Pores are the great vanishing skin feature. For most of us, when we look in the mirror, there are at least a few areas that catch our eyes because all we can see are those big pores staring back at us and making our skin look like a strawberry. But you rarely notice other people’s pores and when you see people’s pictures online or magazine photos of models, or even when you see some people with expert makeup skills in person, you would think they never had a pore in the world.
We’re all our own worst critics so you pay more attention to your pores than other people do, but that doesn’t mean you love how they look. Let’s get into the dirty details about pores, why they’re so visible, how they get clogged, and what you can do about them.
Why Do Pores Get Clogged?
First of all, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page: pores are tiny openings in your skin that allow sweat and oils to get from inside your body where they’re produced to the surface of your skin where they’re meant to be. They’re necessary but they sure are high-maintenance.
Pores get clogged easily because there are so many different particles moving through them and falling into them from your skin. Excess skin oil called sebum is a common cause of clogged pores, and so are dead skin cells that detach from your skin but get stuck in a pore before they slough off.
Some skin care products can also clog pores by getting stuck in those little openings. And here’s something that may surprise you: your pores are more likely to get clogged the older you get. As you age, your skin loses its firmness and starts to sag and stretch. This makes your pore openings larger so it’s easier for unwelcomed guests to pop in and refuse to leave.
Why Are Clogged Pores a Problem?
Most people have at least some clogged pores without realizing it, but they can be quite the nuisance whether you have a few or a lot of stubborn blockages. The best-known problem with clogged pores is that they can cause acne and acne-like blemishes. That’s no one’s cup of tea.
But did you know that if you have large, visible pores, it may be because your pores are clogged? The debris that clogs pores can make the openings larger, making them more visible. Blackheads come from pore blockages too. Of course, your body isn’t happy when its passages to the outside world get blocked, so it tries to fight back, and this can create irritation and inflammation around clogged pores.
How Can You Get Rid of Clogged Pores?
We’ve gotten all the negative aspects of clogged pores out of the way, so now let’s bring the sun out from the clouds and bring back some hope: clogged pores are fixable! Sure, some are more stubborn than others, but there are several reliable ways to break up and pull out those blockages and clear your pores.
Deep Cleansing Masks and Black Masks
Masks are one of the ultimate ways to pamper your skin, and the effect they have will depend on the type of mask you choose. There are hydrating masks, exfoliating or resurfacing masks, and more, but if your enemy #1 is clogged pores, you want to go for either a deep cleansing mask or a black mask.
A deep cleansing mask like a clay mask is designed to reach deep into your pores and break up blockages of oil, dead skin cells, sweat, and other troublemakers. It’s a gentle yet effective strategy. A black mask, the masks you apply, allow to solidify into a film, and then slowly pull off of your face, will attach to pore clogs when it solidifies. When you pull off the mask, you’ll pull out blockages with it.
Professional Facials and Extractions
At-home masks do a great job of clearing clogged pores and getting rid of debris before it causes a blockage. But some blockages are more stubborn than others, and those pesky ones need the hand of a skilled professional.
An experienced facialist, licensed esthetician, or other skin care professional has more tools at their disposal to break down blockages and extract them from your pores. Without a doubt, this is the most thorough route for clearing clogged pores. Keep in mind, though, that it’s still a good idea to occasionally use masks at home to keep your pores clear.
How Can You Prevent Clogged Pores?
While there are reliable ways to clear clogged pores, in an ideal world, your pores would stay clean and open on their own. You can give them a hand and cut down on blockages by taking some steps to prevent clogs.
Use Non-Comedogenic Skin Care Products
It looks like a long and daunting scientific term, but “non-comedogenic” just means that a skin care product won’t clog your pores. For reference, “comedone” is the scientific term for a blocked pore.
If a product is marked as non-comedogenic, it means that it doesn’t contain ingredients that have a significant likelihood of clogging pores. It’s a good idea to look for this label on any skin care product, but moisturizer is often the most likely part of your skin care routine to clog your pores. That’s why it’s particularly helpful to choose a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
Launder Your Pillowcases More Often
While you’re snoozing away, debris from your facial skin is coming off onto your pillowcase. Dead skin cells, oils, it all ends up on that pillowcase. Every day that you don’t clean it, that debris builds up more and more. Each time you lay your head back on that pillow, the buildup can make its way back into your pores and create a blockage. Make sure your pillowcase is in the laundry at least once per week.
Develop a Knockout Skin Care Routine
There are two parts of your skin care routine that are particularly important for clogged pores: cleansing and exfoliating. Generally, it’s best to wash your face twice per day and exfoliate two or three times per week.
Here’s the trick, though: if you go overboard on either cleansing or exfoliating, you’ll be more likely to get pore blockages. This dries out your skin, making your skin cells flake off and get stuck in your pores. Keep it in moderation and opt for a hydrating cleanser that doesn’t dry your skin.
Keeping Your Pores Clear
As common and annoying as clogged pores are, they don’t have to follow you around for life. With the right steps above, you can get rid of them and prevent new ones from popping up so you’ll get the smoother complexion of your dreams. Enjoy!