Everyone knows the term clogged pores. But this commonplace facial condition alludes toward the ambiguous. What exactly are the pores clogged with? What does it mean? And how can one unclog them? The internet yields a number of remedies to unclog your pores ranging from the gentle to the extreme. We sat down with some experts in the field—dermatologist Yuri M. Kim, DO and esthetician Karoly Spring—to figure out the best ways to unclog your pores, with or without the presence of an acne breakout and also to look a bit further into the internet’s most viral unclogging trend.
According to Dr. Kim, “Clogged pores occur when oil, dirt or dead skin cells start to build up. This can be caused by makeup, not having a good skin care regimen, bacteria, sweat, excessive oil production and even hormones.” Clogged pores often catch a pointed finger as an acne-causing culprit, which is not unfounded. However, clogged pores are not the sole cause of acne.
This buildup of dirt, oil and dead skin blocks and clogs your pores thus making your skin prone to possible acne breakouts. The signs of clogged pores are pretty tell-tale. Dermatologists and estheticians alike confirm that the presence of blackheads and whiteheads means that your skin could benefit from a refreshing cleanse.
“Sometimes patients may start to develop whiteheads or blackheads under the skin. If there is more inflammation, then that is when the ‘pimples’ start to form. The face will look dull and not refreshed,” says Dr. Kim. Spring agrees and adds, “You can also feel your face with your fingers and notice a bumpy, rough surface.”
Social media is saturated with these addicting-to-watch videos. The videos situate a well-lit shot, framed shoulders-up of some wide-grinning millennials seemingly covering their faces with charcoal paint. Clever editing and a speedy time-lapse show the paint hardening into a face mask. And then: bam! The climax. The moment we all stalled on the video to see—the peel off. The satisfyingly slow pull and peel shows the viewer just how clogged pores can be, and by the same token, the necessity of the face mask to unclog and prevent acne.
This viral face regimen has stormed the internet in droves; however, because of the very nature of the digital sphere, cutting and editing omits some of the less glamorous sides the compelling face mask pull. Many of the popular products have harsh ingredients that do not bode well on sensitive skin. Also, the very act of the pull can be too aggressive, removing skin and doing more damage than it’s worth. “There should be little to no pain when unclogging your pores,” says Spring. “The right preparation and ingredients make a great difference.”
Dr. Kim suggests preparation, a regimented skin care routine and a couple of ingredients to look for when seeking a remedy that won’t be too rough for your skin: “Over-the-counter washes with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid may help with clogged pores. These can help exfoliate your skin and help open up your pores.”
Across the vast skin disciple, various experts agree that, while clogged pores can certainly lead to acne problems, the face-mask sensation sweeping the digital realm may not be the most effective treatment. Rather, a regimen rooted in gentility, adept research and expertise advice will leave your skin feeling rejuvenated and alive.