What Causes Clogged Pores?

What Causes Clogged Pores?

When it comes to your skin's pores, there's a lot to learn. If you struggle with visibly large pores or clogged pores, you may have already done exhaustive internet searches looking for answers. While blocked pores are an extremely common skincare issue, when left untreated they can be challenging to clear up. However, the good news is that it's entirely possible to unclog your pores and get back to the healthy-looking, glowing skin you desire and deserve. Our Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts have put together this helpful guide to what causes congested pores, clogged pore myths, and effective treatment methods for blocked pores. 


What Are Pores? 


Let’s start with the basics. What exactly are pores and why do we have them? The middle layer of your skin, the dermis, contains sweat glands that (surprise!) produce sweat. Sweat glands have necessary functions, such as regulating body temperature and removing waste by omitting salt and water from your body onto the surface of your skin. Once you sweat, it needs a place to be released, a.k.a, your pores! When your sweat glands produce sweat, it travels through your pores and onto your skin [1]


What Causes Clogged Pores?

So how do these pores become clogged? There are three main culprits: excess oil (sebum production from sebaceous glands), dead skin cells, and over-cleansing. Over time, excess oil and dead skin will begin to accumulate on the skin's surface. While this is fine in small amounts, if you don’t wash your skin regularly, these irritants build up and clog your pores. That being said, you don't want to overwash or over-exfoliate your skin either. Cleansing your skin too frequently may strip your skin of its natural oils, causing your skin to try and overcompensate. Creating more oil than necessary can result in oily skin and produce buildup that can also clog your pores. The trick to healthy-looking, blemish-free skin is to wash your face just the right amount. So what is that right amount? It depends on your skin’s unique needs. However, for most people we recommend using a gentle cleanser twice a day, once in the morning and once at night [2]. If you’ve got dry skin, you may want to opt for washing your face just once a day to avoid over drying. 


Myths About Pores: BUSTED

Below, we’ve put together some of the most common pore myths and misunderstandings to help you better understand your skin and how to care for it, especially when it comes to unclogging pores. 


Myth: Pores Get Larger

Dirt, oil, and weather have all been accused of making the pores on your face larger in size. The truth is, the size of a pore never actually changes. Instead, when dirt and debris clog pores, it makes them appear larger and more noticeable. Keeping your face and pores clean will help minimize their appearance and give you the look of flawlessly smooth skin.


Myth: Pores Open and Close


Much like dirt is associated with enlarging pores, many people believe that pores open and close. In truth, pores are always open. Steam and hot water help open your pores more and loosen any buildup of dirt for a deeper cleanse. But again, your pores never close. A pore's primary purpose is to help your body secret sweat and waste, and it has to remain open to do so. You can, though, make large pores appear smaller with the right skincare routine for your skin’s needs. 


Myth: The Dark Part of a Blackhead is Trapped Dirt


Contrary to popular belief, the black dots on your nose are not dirt trapped under your skin. The dark tip of a blackhead is due to a clogged pore being oxidized. When the inners of a clogged pore are oxidized, they turn a brownish-black hue that is often mistaken for dirt. If you suspect you have blackheads, be sure that you identify whether they are blackheads or sebaceous filaments as they should be treated differently. 


How to Unclog Pores

As Skin Health Experts, we treat some of the toughest skin issues in our Los Angeles and New York Clinics every day. And while clinic facials are a great method for clearing clogged pores, we like to educate our customers on how to unclog their pores at home. 


Invest in The Right Facial Cleanser

Washing your face is a must, but you'll want to make sure you're using the right products. Whether you have sensitive, oily, dry, or acne-prone skin, there's bound to be a facial cleanser for you. For a go-to facial cleanser that works well with nearly every skin type, use a gentle cleanser like our Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash. Sulfate-free, this cleanser washes away makeup and pore-clogging oil without over-drying your skin. 


Use a Weekly Facial Mask

While facial masks are not a permanent fix, they are an essential step in minimizing clogged pores' appearance. Using a Mask like the Kate Somerville EradiKate® Mask Foam Acne Treatment will work to deep clean pores and dissolve impurities on the spot. Plus, it will help remove dirt and oil to prevent new blemishes from forming.

Exfoliate Regularly

Our #1 recommendation for clogged pores? Regular exfoliation. How often? It all depends on your skin type. As a general rule, we recommend most skin types benefit from exfoliating skin with our ExfoliKate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment twice a week. In just two minutes, you will see smoother texture and pores, PLUS a gorgeous glow. If you’ve got sensitive skin, try our holy grail super scrub once a week or leave on for just one minute. This will help exfoliate without causing any irritation. And a bonus benefit of regular exfoliation? By clearing away the top layer of dead skin cells and debris, your skin is now prepared to better absorb the skincare products and ingredients you use in the rest of your regimen, making them more effective.


Remember, no matter which method you use to unclog your pores, it's crucial that you choose treatments that are right for your skin. By deeply understanding your skin’s needs and applying products that will help enhance its natural abilities to look and feel its best, you can ensure that your skin remains healthy-looking and blemish-free all year long.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337418/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025519/

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