Oily skin and clogged pores go together like a hand in a glove. And while a naturally porcelain complexion is hard to come by, bumps and oil can make for a particularly uneven complexion.
Clogged pores are technically known as comedones. They’re caused by a buildup of dead skin cells and excess oil – also known as sebum. This buildup clogs hair follicles, leading to small bumps on the skin, often the result of clogged pores.1 Fortunately, there are things you can do to unclog pores and balance out oily skin. So, if you’re ready for a smoother complexion, read on.
1. Exfoliate Your Skin
Regular exfoliation is a cornerstone of any great skin care regimen, but it’s even more important if you’re prone to oily skin and clogged pores. When you exfoliate, you ensure that all those dead skin cells are sloughed away – decreasing the risk that they’ll settle into hair follicles, combine with sebum, and produce whiteheads and blackheads.
Now, there are two kinds of exfoliants you can use: a physical exfoliant and a chemical exfoliant.
A physical exfoliant will lightly scrub the top surface of the skin to lift away any impurities, leaving you with a brighter, smoother complexion. But when using a physical exfoliant, be sure to look for formulations that don’t use harsh ingredients that may irritate the skin.
Chemical exfoliants renew the skin from the inside out, with the help of alpha-hydroxy acids, like glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids. These alpha-hydroxy acids stimulate skin cell turnover, and keep layers of skin cells from building up.2 Chemical exfoliants may also use retinoids – these are extremely helpful. They actively work to reduce the number of clogged pores by discouraging the overproduction of skin cells.3
2. Facial Extractions
Yes, it can be really tempting to use your fingers to try to squeeze at your skin to unclog your pores. But this is a task best left to professionals. Squeezing and picking at your face can damage the skin and cause irritation and – in the end – leave you with problems that are more noticeable than simply clogged pores.4
So, if you really want to get those pores cleared out, stat – see a professional esthetician for a facial. The esthetician will use a small metal tool called a “pore extractor” to gently compress the skin around the clogged pore, which will encourage the release of excess oil and dead skin cells. You’ll walk away with a face free of blackheads and whiteheads!
3. DIY Bentonite Clay Mask
Okay, so you’ve resisted the urge to squeeze at those clogged pores yourself. But you also don’t want to spend money paying an esthetician to do it for you. What to do? Well, how about a DIY mask to clear those pores and balance out oily skin? This mask uses bentonite clay, which acts as a magnet to suck up excess sebum from pores.5 The addition of honey means you’re getting a good dose of moisture to rehydrate the skin – which will help balance out any drying effects the clay might have.6
- 1 tablespoon bentonite clay
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon honey
Combine the ingredients in a bowl (avoid using a metal bowl or metal utensils – they can reduce the effectiveness of the clay). Apply the mixture to your face, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with a washcloth and lukewarm water.
4. Use A Gentle Cleanser
This probably goes without saying, but make sure you’re washing every morning and evening to keep the skin free of excess oil. And while you might think that a heavy-duty cleanser is your best bet for oily skin – it’s actually better to use a gentler formulation. A gentle face wash will remove surface dirt and oil without compromising your skin barrier.7 And, you do want to keep your skin barrier in good shape. The skin barrier is the topmost layer of your skin, and one of its main tasks is to keep bacteria at bay.
Now, keep in mind that pimples are caused when clogged pores come into contact with a bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes.8 So, to prevent the risk of those clogged pores transforming into pimples, treat your skin barrier with care.
Bid Farewell to Oily Skin and Clogged Pores
You can’t Photoshop your skin when you’re out in the real world. But a good skincare regimen that addresses the specific needs of oily skin can help. With these tips, you’ll be on the road to a smooth, bump-free complexion in no time.
For more about how to keep your skin clean and clear, keep reading here:
How To Shrink Pores! (12 DIY methods to minimize their appearance)
Stop Using Neosporin for Acne (it makes it worse!)
Powerful Acne Fighter from a Tree? (Why Salicylic Acid Works)