Skin is the largest organ of the body. It is an organ which has many glands to carry out different functions. Along with glands, there are tiny pocket-like structures called sweat glands in the middle layer of the skin. These pocket-like structures produce swear and is released on the outside through small holes, called as pores.
Pores help on cooling down the body by releasing sweat and flush out toxins from the body. The sebaceous gland, found in underlying layer of the skin secretes an oily substance called sebum, the purpose of which is to keep the skin well lubricated and prevent from drying. But, when there is excess sebum production and it gets combined with skin debris, bacteria, environmental particles, it causes the pores of the skin to get clogged.
Causes of clogged pores
- Skin debris : The skin, in the process of carrying out its routine function, regenerates and producing new skin cells, shedding off the old ones. Pores get blocked due to this dead skin accumulation on the skin’s surface. With age, the skin’s ability to regenerate decreases, causing excess build-up of skin debris causing clogged pores
- Excess sebum :Sebum is the natural body lubricant that is produced by sebaceous glands in the skin to prevent the skin from dryness. However, when there is overactivity of the sebaceous glands, producing more sebum and causing skin debris to stick together, resulting in blocked pores
- Comedogenic skincare products : Some of the cosmetic products, like make-up products, moisturizers, may be comedogenic – have the ability to clog pores. These make the skin very oily and cause blocked pores
- Over exfoliating : Cleansing and exfoliating with scrubbing more than required can irritate the skin and cause inflammation and make the pores more noticeable. Also, exfoliating too much can remove the natural oils present on the skin, causing the sebaceous glands to over compensate and produce more sebum, thus clogging the pores
- Excess dairy consumption : It is believed that consuming a lot of dairy products can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, resulting in clogging pores
How to treat clogged pores
- Using a cleanser : The American Academy of Dermatology suggests using a facial cleanser appropriate for the skin twice in a day to keep the pores unclogged and clean. It will also help in removing the excess dirt and oil from the skin without causing excessive drying, thus keeping the pores unclogged
- Avoid heat : Hot water can cause skin irritation and make the pores appear larger. It is advisable to use lukewarm water to face the face and for bathing
- Face masks and exfoliators : The face masks most suited for the skin type, help in getting rid of the excess dirt, sebum and skin debris. The clogged pores are minimized and help in enhancing skin texture. Exfoliators help in purifying the skin and remove skin debris, and are one of the best ways to unclog pores. Using exfoliators that contain the compounds Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) have proven to be effective in treating clogged pores.
- Steam : Steaming the skin helps in unclogging pores, release toxic buildup in the skin layers and helps in purifying the skin naturally
- Use the right skincare products : For an oily skin, using greasy skin care products can make matters worse and clog the pores. It is wise to opt for skin care and makeup products that are non-comedogenic and water or gel based instead of oil based for minimizing pores on the skin. Makeup products stay on the skin for long hours, and hence it is best to invest in products that are light without any pore-clogging fillers
- Anti-aging : Experts suggest that, with age, the skin starts to sag and sagging skin makes the pores appear larger. The skin loses its natural elasticity and increase the pore size. Some of the anti-aging formulations contain retinol which is a potent anti-aging component. It helps in improving skin barrier to resist loss of firmness and elasticity
- Cleaning makeup tools : This is one of the smallest, yet an effective way to help in unclogging pores. Overtime, makeup brushes and tools have oil, dirt and makeup products accumulated on them. These tools with buildup of substance when reused on the skin causes breakouts and blocked pores
- Skin extraction : As a part of facial treatment, a board certified dermatologist can carry out extractions by using a metal tool or fingers, they manually apply pressure at the right spots around the clogged pores. This helps in extracting and removing blackheads on the skin. This method is strictly carried out by the expert as attempting at home can actually cause damage to the pores and result in breakouts
- Sunscreen : Exposure to ultraviolet sun rays can cause damage to the skin and clog the pores. Applying a sunscreen with good SPF helps in protecting the skin from environmental pollutants and thus does not cause clogged pores
Remedies for Clogged Pores
There are some known natural remedies that help in unclogging pores. They are safe, and inexpensive and can be done at home.
- Charcoal mask : Activated charcoal has become very popular in recent times as a skincare product. It is widely been used in body scrubs, masks and cleansers. Activated charcoal helps in absorbing all the excess oil on the surface of the skin and removes skin impurities. This proves to be very effective in unclogging pores
- Parsley and Thyme : Parsley is known to have natural astringent properties, by which it removes dirt and toxins from the skin and unclogging the pores. Parsley water can be prepared at home and applied on the face for getting rid of the excess sebum. Also, thyme, a herb can be used for the same purpose
- Egg whites: Egg white masks contain substances that are beneficial for sealing the pores and protecting the skin from impurities to penetrate in the layers of the skin, thus preventing blocked pores
- Grapeseed oil : Grapeseed oil has numerous benefits on skin and hair. It has been used as a medicinal oil for acne prevention and treatment. Grapeseed oil contains Vitamin E and linoleic acid, which makes the oil a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, helping in unclogging of pores
- Lemon juice : Lemon juice is acidic in nature and direct application can cause skin irritation and drying. Therefore, it is always recommended to dilute it with water. It acts as a cleanser and makes the skin look naturally fresh
- Oatmeal : The natural antioxidant in oatmeal reduces inflammation stimulating compounds that cause itching, dry skin and dead skin. It is an inexpensive and easy way to exfoliate the skin and removes excess sebum, unclogs the pores and leaves the skin supple. It can be mixed with milk and applied as a mask
- Aloe vera : Aloe vera has multiple skin benefits and has been widely used for many skin problems. The moisturizing gel of the plant helps in reducing the pore size, removes oil and dirt on the skin, and gives the skin a natural glow
- Baking soda : It is commonly found in everyone’s household. Baking soda has natural exfoliating properties that help in removing the dirt and dead skin. It can be made into a paste by mixing it in water before applying it on the skin
- Multani mitti : Also known as fuller’s earth, it makes a great home mask that can help in soaking the excess oil on the skin and clears the pores of sweat and sebum
- Honey : Honey has been one of the ancient go-to for many conditions like burns and wounds. It has multiple medicinal properties – especially improving the healing process and clearing out clogged pores. Honey also has some antibacterial properties which help in fighting infections and thus reduce acne breakouts. Honey can be combined with cinnamon to make a honey and cinnamon mask and used on acne-prone skin as an effective home remedy
- Fruit mask : Using fresh fruits like papaya, banana, muskmelon, orange have skin cleansing properties. The enzymes found in these fruits help in deep cleaning the pores, add glow to the skin and maintain the skin’s moisture
- Maintaining hydration : Along with all the skincare regimen, it is essential to keep the skin well hydrated from within to get rid of toxins and enhance skin texture. Consuming adequate quantities of water, well balanced diet and including fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants help in maintaining good skin overall
- Exercise : Being physically active and exercising regularly helps the body get rid of toxins by means of sweating. This helps in unclogging pores and keeping the skin naturally healthy
There are numerous remedies available to get rid of clogged pores. It would be even better to prevent them in the first place. This can be done by following a good skin care routine and hygiene, using non-comedogenic skin care products, removing make up every time before going to bed and exfoliating at regular intervals. It is also recommended to visit a dermatologist for this to know what is safe and effective for the skin.