The Complete Guide to Clogged Pores
Although wrinkles may get the most attention when it comes to anti-aging regimens, there are actually two things that contribute so much more to your older-looking skin: tone and texture. When your tone is even and your texture is smooth, that’s when your skin can reflect light and look brighter, healthier, and younger. (To get the full scoop, check out our guide on why it’s not just about wrinkles.)
As you age, one of the biggest texture issues you’ll face is having clogged pores. Have you looked into the mirror lately and immediately noticed the size of your pores? Or felt that your pores look larger than they once did? As you get into your forties and beyond, your pores tend to look more enlarged than before; it’s something that you can't hide and that becomes even more pronounced when you try to cover it up with makeup. What makes enlarged pores such a major concern for so many people is that they are a difficult problem to solve.
That’s where Dr. Schultz and his decades of experience come in. He has treated tone and texture issues during over 180,000 patient visits and knows exactly how to transform the look of those pesky pores. He’s spent over 35 years understanding skin, so now you can too. Once you’re armed with the knowledge of what clogged pores actually are, why they appear, and how to combat them, your fresh, bright skin won’t just look good “for your age”—it will look even better than it did in your twenties.
What Are Clogged Pores?
Think of each of your pores as the end of a small tube. This tube extends out from your oil glands in order to bring oil from the glands up to the skin. The walls of this tube are composed of skin cells, which, like all other skin cells, regularly die and fall off. When a surplus of oil travels from the gland below, and up the tube, it can become mixed with these dead skin cells. As time passes and the oil and dead cells continue to mix, a clog develops.
"This is an issue that drives many of my patients crazy," says Dr. Schultz. "Enlarged pores are the antithesis of soft, gentle skin." Those large pores are caused by swollen, engorged oil glands resulting from the sebaceous follicular canal being clogged, giving the skin's surface a thick, cobblestoned look.
This is where unsightly problems begin: as this clog grows and stretches the tube, pores become visibly enlarged. The debris within a clogged pore can further develop into a blackhead (if it lies underneath the surface) or a whitehead (if it lies on the surface of the skin). As the clog develops, the oil is still rising to the surface, and since it has nowhere to go, it causes the pore to expand. As the pores get bigger, they become more visible. “The oil is going to expand the size of the gland, and then expand the size of the pore. If you want smaller pores, you’ve got to get rid of the pore sludge," Dr. Schultz says. Most often, enlarged pores are found on the nose, lower forehead, chin, and inner cheeks, where oil glands are most concentrated. Watch Dr. Schultz explain in more detail why pores become in enlarged and how to help reduce their appearance.
Causes of Clogged Pores
Clogged pores occur whenever there is a mixture of oil and dead skin cells, which is what Dr. Schultz referred to above as “pore sludge.” This pore sludge can result from several things: excess oil on your skin caused by overactive oil glands, extra debris on your face from touching your face with your hands, sleeping with your makeup on, or even just the lack of daily exfoliation. When the pores become clogged with this pore sludge, they grow and thus expand in size. Pores do not open and close on their own; however, their size can fluctuate due to clogging. Pores are naturally very small, almost invisible to the naked eye. When they become enlarged, what we see aren’t “open” pores; rather, they are “stretched,” which makes them more visible.
How to Clean Clogged Pores
So, how do we keep our pores pristine? The magic method is chemical exfoliation. After your shower, when the heat from the water and steam has slightly opened your pores, apply a light layer of a chemical exfoliant to remove the dead surface cells that caused clogging in the first place. Do this once every day, and after two weeks you will see a difference.
Using the right ingredients is essential to transforming your clogged, dull, matte-looking skin into your freshest face ever. In addition to chemical exfoliation, Dr. Schultz recommends another powerful solution: the Dermstick for Pores, a potent pore minimizer enhanced with BeautyRx's proprietary Pore Complex, a blend of Tetrafoliant®, Pumpkin Seed Extract, Tea Tree Oil, and other powerful ingredients. These ingredients target the specific issues—excess oil, dirt, and debris—that cause clogged pores. Clinical tests show the Dermstick to dramatically reduce the appearance of pores in all users without irritation, so you'll be left with more even, smooth, glowing skin.
How to Prevent Clogged Pores
Getting rid of all the reasons your pores are clogging in the first place is ultimately the best way to clear up your skin and reveal a fresher face. Making sure you’re thoroughly cleansing with both a cleanser and toner—and using a daily exfoliant will keep future clogs at bay. All pore clogs are made up of the same “pore sludge”—dead cells, oil and debris—and as a result, any effective pore treatment that works for one person should work for all.
Treatments for Clogged Pores
DIY Clogged Pore Treatments
While honey, coconut oil, sugar, salt, and lemon juice are all natural and delicious, creating your own DIY exfoliating scrub is not the most effective for cleaning out clogged pores. Exfoliating is a great idea to help loosen up those pores, but concoctions that are made from household items unintended for your skin may not deliver real results. At-home physical exfoliants can be harsh and irritate your skin, unlike gentle chemical exfoliants that are specifically designed with precision and potency for your skin. This warning also goes for any school-grade glue that you think might substitutes for a peel-off mask. Try leaving the glue for your kids’ arts and crafts projects, not your skin!
Treating Clogged Pores with a Dermatologist
If at-home exfoliating products aren’t enough to reduce the appearance of your clogged pores, you might consider visiting your dermatologist. You may have hereditary pores, which are a type of enlarged pore that is more difficult to treat because it is permanent. These pores are almost analogous to scarring because they’re, in essence, misshapen. However, they can be treated and diminished with Fraxel or Profractional Lasers. Another way your dermatologist can help is to supercharge your treatment with a stronger in-office chemical peel.
Best Products for Clogged Pores
In addition to the products listed below, using a product with all the ingredients necessary to dissolve pore sludge, like our Dermstick for Pores, can make a huge difference in reducing the look of enlarged pores. Using ingredients that actually penetrate the pore to remove the sludge, instead of just sliding over the pore, is essential in your skin’s transformation.
Best Cleanser for Clogged Pores
The BeautyRx Balancing Cleanser is a brightening cleanser made with lavender and chamomile. It washes away dirt and dissolves the excess oils that can clog pores, all without over-drying the skin.
Best Toner for Clogged Pores
If you’re truly cleansing your skin, you’re using a toner. That’s because toning your skin removes all the remaining dirt and debris that a cleanser can miss. And it can even remove remnants of cleanser left on your face after rinsing. The BeautyRx Clarifying Toner is the best toner to use after cleansing to completely prepare your skin to better absorb whatever products you’re using to reduce the look of your pores.
Best Peel for Clogged Pores
Our BeautyRx Tetrafoliant® 8% Peel Solution is a starter-strength, lightweight, oil-free exfoliating treatment that removes dulling, dead cells to reveal brighter, softer, healthier looking skin. It’s buffered and pH-balanced to be potent enough to see real results, but gentle enough to use every day. After a consumer study, 100% of participants showed no signs of skin irritation. To really make a different in the look of your pores, use this product daily, and when you’re ready, you can increase to the Tetrafoliant® 10% Peel Pads.
Best Moisturizer for Clogged Pores
Without sacrificing deep hydration, the BeautyRx Light Rehydrating Lotion is in an oil-free, lightweight moisturizer suitable for those with the oiliest and most breakout-prone skin. This moisturizer is formulated to not clog pores, and it maximizes hydration with natural humectants, emollients, and other hydrophilic compounds.
Your At-Home Regimen
To successfully help reduce the look of enlarged, clogged pores, use a daily exfoliant to clean out the pore sludge that’s clogging the pore, as well as a pore minimizer with powerful ingredients to reduce the look of pores.
Remember, you don’t need any gimmicks when it comes to cleaning out your pores. You simply need a little bit of knowledge and the right ingredients. Now that you know a little bit more about why pores clog and how to unclog them, you are well on your way to discovering an even fresher texture for your skin and the youthful glow you thought you’d lost.