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Pores: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they play a huge role when it comes to your skin, which is your body’s largest organ. After all, without the many, many pores we all have, our skin wouldn’t be able to breathe. Still, it’s easy to get frustrated. Pores that become clogged with oil, dirt, or makeup can potentially cause breakouts, which are never fun. It’s important to know how pores work and what can cause clogs so that you can plan how you’re going to address them. Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your pores, including why they can become clogged and what you can do about it.
When it comes to your pores, there’s a lot of misunderstanding. The following myths were meant to be debunked:
1. Myth: Pores open and close. Ever hear that hot water—think: steam facials—will open your pores? Hate to break it to you, but that’s not the case. The reality: Pores are always open—in fact, that’s why you’re able to sweat!
2. Myth: You can get rid of pores. Nope, you can’t. Even if you don’t like the way they look, pores serve an important purpose as a gateway for oil and a home for your hair follicles.
3. Myth: The black dots on your nose are from dirt. They’re actually blackheads, according to the Mayo Clinic, which are clogged pores that have oxidized and turned a lovely brownish-black hue.
Now that we’ve debunked some of the common myths about pores that are out there, it’s time for a lesson on what can cause clogged pores. Here are some of the most common ones:
1. Dead skin. Our skin is always creating new skin cells and shedding old ones. But as you get older, your skin’s ability to shed those dead skin cells from skin’s surface slows down, which can lead to buildup if not exfoliated.
2. Excess oil. Your skin has sebaceous glands, which work to create natural oils (a.k.a. sebum) that are meant to nourish your skin. In a perfect world, sebum would simply keep skin soft and hydrated. However, there are times when sebaceous glands can become overactive. During these periods, your sebaceous glands can actually create too much oil, which can cause dead skin cells to stick together instead of shed off.
3. Over-cleansing or over-exfoliating. This might sound counterintuitive, but hear us out. Cleansing and exfoliating should play an important role in your skin care routine. But it turns out there really is too much of a good thing. And when you cleanse or exfoliate too much, you actually risk stripping your skin of it’s natural oils—this in turn can cause your oil glands to overcompensate by creating even more oil. That excess oil has the potential to clog your pores. (When it comes to exfoliation, aim for doing it once or twice a week.)
4. Using the wrong beauty products. Sad as it is to say, some of your very favorite beauty products may be to blame for your clogged pores. How to deal: Look for non-comedogenic formulas—they’re formulated with ingredients that reduce the chances of clogging your pores.
Now that you know what causes your pores to become clogged, it’s time to learn how to help purify them. One good option you can try is using a face mask. Try the L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Mask Exfoliating & Refining Treatment Mask. Formulated with pure clays and red algae, this mask can help exfoliate dead skin cells, dirt, and oil that has piled up on your skin’s surface. To use, apply an even layer to dry, clean skin, avoiding the lip and eye area. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes, then wash it off with water. Use the mask three times a week for best results.