“Have clogged pores? Here’s what you can do to un-clog them.”
Here’s the thing: Everyone has pores. So why does it seem like some people have none, and some have ones that are visible from a mile away? There are a few factors at play. One, good ol’ fashioned genetics, which, unfortunately, are out of your control. Just like you’re born with a certain eye color or hair color or body type, your pore size is also predetermined…to a certain extent.
Oh, while we’re on the topic, let’s get one thing straight before we go any further. Pores do not—we repeat, do not—open and close. File that one under ‘urban skin legend.’ Your pores simply don’t open or close; what they do do is expand and contract, based on how much stuff is inside of them and whether they’re clogged or not. And THAT fact also contributes to how large (or small) they appear. When pores are clogged, they look larger…even if they technically aren’t any bigger. So while yes, you’re born with pores that are a certain size, they can still end up looking bigger or smaller, based on how clogged or clear they are, respectively. Now what you can you do about it? Keep reading.
First off, a quick refresher as to what a pore is. Pores are small openings in the skin, and—ready for this?—you actually have two kinds. There are sweat pores, through which, you guessed it, sweat comes out. However, these are super tiny and can’t be seen by the naked eye, so we don’t need to focus on these at the moment. The pores we’re talking about are oil pores, also known as hair follicles. These are VIPS (Very Important Pores) because they allow your skin’s natural oil to make its way from the oil gland to the surface of the skin.
So, what causes clogged pores? Any number of things. Normally, they’re pretty self-sufficient, keeping themselves clean and clear. But sometimes, not so much. Dirt, makeup, excess oil, pollutants, any other number of assorted gunk can get lodged in and clog pores. And those clogs can show up in a number of ways. There are blackheads — clogged pores where the ‘stuff’ inside has been exposed to air, oxidized and turned black. Whiteheads are essentially the same thing, but with a thin layer of skin over the pore that keeps oxygen out so it doesn’t turn black. And there are those big, red pimples, often caused by the presence of p.acnes bacteria feeding on excess oil stuck in the clogged pore.
When it comes to addressing clogged skin pores, the best offense is a good defense, meaning prevention is always your best plan of attack. It sounds simple enough, but proper cleansing is key. It’s the skin care step that can truly make the biggest difference in keeping pores clog-free. Exactly what type of cleanser is best for you depends largely on your skin type and a host of other factors; conveniently, Skinsei has created a diagnostic tool to look at all of that and find the right formula for you. But regardless of the cleanser you’re using, it’s imperative to clean your face at least once a day, before bedtime, to wash away the day’s gunk and grime. (Repeat after us: I will not go to bed without washing my face.) Another good option: Adding a toner into your routine. Think of the face wash as doing the heavy lifting, removing all the large particles of dirt, oil, and makeup. A toner gets deeper into the pores, sweeping away all the smaller, leftover residue that might otherwise end up lodged in your pores. The Skinsei All Toned Up Toner does just that, all in a pH balanced, alcohol-free formula that will leave your complexion feeling clean, but never stripped.
Also, while it may not seem like the most obvious pore product, sunscreen is also imperative. Exposure to UV rays causes a breakdown in collagen and elastin, the proteins responsible for firm, healthy skin. Diminished amounts of collagen and elastin ultimately lead to saggy, stretched out pores, that are not only more prone to clogs, but will look larger, too. And nobody wants that.
Still, clogged pores happen to the best of us. Happily, there are easy ways to unclog them, exfoliation being at the top of that list. While daily cleansing is important, dead skin cells can still build up on the surface of your skin, and cause clogs. You can either physically slough them off with a scrub, or use a chemical exfoliator that contains ingredients, such as acids, to dissolve the dead cells. To that point, salicylic acid is a choice ingredient for pore-unclogging, particularly if you’re dealing with blackheads or whiteheads. It effectively dissolves oil, meaning it can get into those pores and eliminate all of that excess sebum. If you’re dealing with red, inflamed blemishes, look for treatments with benzoyl peroxide, which is both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. And what about those blackhead strips? Not your best bet. While sure, they’re admittedly pretty fun and kind of addicting, they can be far too harsh on your skin. Yes, they’ll rip off blackheads, but they also take a layer of skin with it, leaving your pores exposed and vulnerable to just getting clogged all over again. You’re removing the culprit, sure, but also potentially damaging your skin and not really addressing the root issue in the first place.