How To Unclog Pores

If you’ve found yourself searching for a remedy to banish clogged pores from your face entirely, join the club. Clogged pores are a common skin care concern that can be a major pain, and knowing how to handle them can be a challenge, too. The truth is, before even knowing how to clean out clogged pores, you’ll need to learn a few basics, starting with the answer to one important question: What causes clogged pores? 

Here, we’re sharing what you should know about clogged pores, including what clogged pores look like, some of the most effective pore-clogging ingredients you can use to treat them and skin care tips you can use to manage and get rid of clogged pores.

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What Are Pores?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there are little pockets called sweat glands in the middle layer of your skin (the dermis). As the name suggests, these glands make sweat, which go through little tubes and come out of tiny holes called pores. Pores play an essential role in keeping our bodies cool and flushing out toxic substances the body doesn’t need. When those tiny pores get clogged with dirt, oils or dead skin, they can lead to breakouts and severe acne. 

What Do Clogged Pores Look Like?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, clogged pores occur when dirt, oil or dead skin gets trapped in your pores. This can lead to  skin congestion, which includes pimples, whiteheads, blackheads and cysts. Clogged pores on the nose, forehead and chin are very common but fortunately, they can be addressed with the proper skin care routine. 

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4 Common Causes Of Clogged Pores

If you’ve been experiencing breakouts, it could be due to clogged pores. Read on to learn about four of the main causes of clogged pores.

1. Dead Skin 

The skin goes through a frequent cycle of shedding and creating new skin cells. According to the Mayo Clinic, pores can become clogged when dead skin cells accumulate on the skin’s surface. As you get older, your skin’s ability to shed those dead skin cells from the skin’s surface slows down, which can lead to a dull complexion and buildup. 

To avoid this, make sure to exfoliate one to three times a week. You can use a physical exfoliator with microbeads, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Brightening Daily Scrub Cleanser to manually buff away dead skin. Or, you can use an exfoliating toner, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner to chemically exfoliate dead skin cells, while unveiling a brighter, smoother complexion. 


Editor’s tip: If you need another reason to use SPF daily, exfoliation makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. To stay protected, we suggest adding the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Invisible UV Fluid to your daily morning routine.

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2. Excess Oil

Your skin has sebaceous glands, which create natural oils (aka sebum) that are meant to nourish it. In a perfect world, sebum would simply keep the skin soft and hydrated. However, there are times when sebaceous glands can become overactive, leading to an excess amount of oil being created. This can then cause dead skin cells to stick together instead of shedding off, which can lead to clogged pores. If you produce an excess of oil, there’s a good chance that you deal with clogged pores on the forehead or clogged pores on the chin, because the T-zone has the most oil glands. 

To manage excess oils, reach for a detoxifying cleanser, like the L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Detox & Brighten Cleanser. It’s formulated with charcoal to help draw out impurities from the skin, like dirt and oil. After each use, the skin feels clean and appears more luminous.  

3. Over-Cleansing and Over-Exfoliating 

Cleansing and exfoliating should play an essential role in your skin care routine, but too much of a good thing can turn bad. If you cleanse or exfoliate too much, you may risk stripping your skin of its natural oils, which can cause your oil glands to overcompensate and create even more oil. Then, that excess oil can clog your pores. 

The AAD also suggests that scrubbing your skin too frequently can cause irritation, leading to inflammation and enlarged pores. Make sure you cleanse twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed) and pay attention to your skin when you exfoliate. According to the AAD, how often you exfoliate depends on your skin type and the type of exfoliation you practice. If you notice irritation, reduce the number of times you exfoliate per week.

4. Using the Wrong Beauty Products 

Sad as it is to say, some of your favorite beauty products could be to blame for your clogged pores because of their ingredients. So, look for products with non-comedogenic formulas, which are created with ingredients that won’t clog pores. We love the L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation, the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder and the L’Oréal Paris True Match Eye Cream in a Concealer, 0.5% Hyaluronic Acid because . In addition to using non-comedogenic makeup, the AAD recommends sticking with face products (makeup and skin care) that are oil-free if you have acne-prone skin as oils can be one of the main causes of clogged pores. 

What Are Pore-Clogging Ingredients? 

Some pore-clogging oils to avoid include coconut oil and squalene. Additionally,  a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, revealed that lanolin, kernel oil and avocado oil can also clog pores.  

Lanolin and coconut oil are emollients that are commonly found in moisturizers to lock in moisture and boost hydration. If you’re looking for a formula without these ingredients but with the same benefits, try the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. It includes hyaluronic acid and ceramides to draw in moisture and strengthen the skin barrier without feeling heavy or greasy.

How to Get Rid Of Clogged Pores

Now that you know what causes clogged pores, here are a few things you can do to get rid of them. 

1. Double Cleanse Before Bed

Before bed, double cleanse with a cream cleanser and a water-based cleanser. The cream or oil-based cleanser will remove all your makeup and sunscreen, while the water-based cleanser removes any leftover dirt and oils to make sure that your skin is fully clean. Depending on how oily your skin is, in the morning you can double cleanse your face or opt for a water-based cleanser.

As a first cleanse, reach for something gentle that can easily remove your makeup. For the second cleanse, we recommend the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Radiant Smoothing Cream Cleanser, a gentle cleanser that cleanses while lightly exfoliating the skin. Or, the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 3.5% Glycolic Acid Cleanser, a gel cleanser that includes glycolic acid to dissolve dead skin cells and reveal smoother, brighter skin.

2. Use Products With Salicylic Acid and Retinol

Routinely exfoliating with topical acids, like salicylic acid or topical retinol, is a good way to manage clogged pores as they help to clear out the very dirt, oils and debris that clog pores, per the Cleveland Clinic. 

The L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum is a brightening serum that contains salicylic acid to address enlarged pores. Add it to your morning routine after cleansing and before applying SPF. At night, use the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Pressed Night Moisturizer with Retinol + Niacinamide. With a blend of retinol and niacinamide, this non-comedogenic moisturizer quickly absorbs into the skin and smooths uneven texture with continued use over time.

3. Moisturize 

While you may want to skip moisturizer because you feel like it clogs your pores or makes your skin oily, it’s a bad idea because it may have a negative effect on your overall complexion. Instead, use a lightweight, non-comedogenic formula, like the aforementioned Revitalift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. It contains hyaluronic acid to retain hydration in the skin and its silky, lightweight texture is fast-absorbing without feeling heavy or greasy.

4. See a Professional for Extractions

If your clogged pores manifest as blackheads on your face, avoid picking at them and save that for a professional, like a dermatologist. Picking at blackheads and acne can lead to infection, scarring and worsening of the breakout. 

5. Consult With Your Doctor

If your acne becomes painful or if you’re doing the right things for your clogged pores and you’re still not seeing results, talk to your doctor. You may be a good candidate for topical creams or prescription medications that can help to manage clogged pores. 

Next: What Is Dimethicone Used for in Skin Care and Hair Care?

Photo Credit: iStock

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