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Unclog Pores with Expert Advice


Are you prone to acne, clogged pores and blackheads? A comprehensive skin care routine will help tackle existing spots and prevent new ones from forming.

Clogged Pores? Follow This Decongesting Skin Routine

If you feel like you’re constantly battling clogged pores, blackheads, and blemishes without success, chances are your skincare routine isn’t working hard enough. Unclogging pores requires patience, persistence and consistency – as well as the right skincare products and routine.

La Roche-Posay acne expert Rachel McAdam explains the purpose of pores, what is happening when they get blocked, as well as what to use, when to use it, and why.

What Do Pores Do?


Sebaceous oil glands are attached to each hair follicle and on top of each hair follicle is a pore. Blocked oil pores create blemishes and breakouts.

Pores are small openings in the skin that enable oil and sweat to be pushed out through to the surface. There are two types of pores; sweat pores and oil pores. Oil pores are the ones that get blocked and cause breakouts.

Pores play an important role in healthy functioning skin. Skin is covered in tiny hair follicles and each hair follicle has a pore on top of it. Sebaceous glands are attached to each hair follicle and they release sebum (oils) into the follicular duct and through the pore opening and onto the skin surface. The sebum released through your pores, is your skin’s natural oil; it is rich in lipids and lubricates as well as protects hair and skin from dirt and bacteria.

What Are Clogged Pores?

Pores that are “clogged” occur when the associated (sebaceous) oil gland becomes blocked with sebum and dead skin cells, and then becomes inflamed, which is why they’re often raised and occasionally a bit sensitive to touch. When pores are clogged, comedones such as blackheads and whiteheads form inside the pore. Acne is the result of clogged pores.

What Causes Clogged Pores?

Shed skin cells and excess sebum combine in the hair follicle to create blockages, swelling, inflammation and clogged pores. While the cause can differ between individuals, whiteheads, blackheads, and clogged pores can be the result of hormonal imbalances (which is why acne is so prevalent during puberty), lifestyle habits, diet, and stress. The environment, sluggish skin cell turnover, and what you’re putting in contact with your skin can also play a factor.

What’s The Difference Between Blackheads, Whiteheads And Cysts?

Whiteheads and blackheads are relatively similar with the main difference being that blackheads are open and exposed to air. They undergo a process called oxidation turning the congestive oils black or darker in colour.

Whiteheads are not exposed to air and remain white in colour. Blackheads and whiteheads are referred to as open comedones and closed comedones, respectively.

Cysts occur in deeper tissues, which is why they often result in scarring. They do not come to a head, and can be painful, and difficult to treat. Note: acne characterised by cysts, or ‘cystic acne’ is generally referred to as severe acne, and usually requires medical support and advice.

Can I Minimise My Large Pores?

No. You cannot physically shrink the appearance of your pores. You can however make clogged pores look smaller, or enlarged pores appear more refined when they are kept clear and free from congestion and oils.

Skin Care Routine for Unclogging Pores

6 Products to Use for Clogged Pores

It can be easy to complicate your skincare routine if treating clogged pores, blackheads and breakouts but the reality is that a few effective products are all you need. Select cleansers, exfoliants, moisturisers and masks with the right ingredients, formulas and features to target congested pores and support reduced inflammation. La Roche-Posay acne expert Rachel McAdam explains that when it comes to clogged pores and blackheads, “topical treatments can be extremely effective”, meaning that if you’ve got the right products, you’ll see noticeable improvements in due course.

1. Cleanser for Clogged Pores
According to McAdam, the first step is to cleanse morning and night with a soap-free, pH balanced cleanser. Try a Foaming Face Wash and double cleanse with a micellar water at night if you tend to wear heavy makeup.

Another cleansing step which is good for acne is steaming your face. The steam causes the pores to expand this process helps loosen the debris in the pores. You should steam your face once a week, or twice a week if your pores are really blocked.

Cleansing Mistake for Clogged Pores
A common mistake by those seeking to clean pores is over cleansing or cleansing with harsh ingredients. Cleansers with fragrances can aggravate acne, and face wash with alcohol strips the skin of its natural oil. These irritating cleaning ingredients can dry the skin. Over-drying skin causes the sebaceous glands to overcompensate and produce more oils – which then creates more excess sebum, more clogged pores and more pimples.

2. Chemical Exfoliants
It’s essential to exfoliate the skin to prevent a build-up of dead cells that can contribute to clogged pores. Mechanical exfoliants such as facial scrubs can cause redness, irritation and micro tears in the skin and do not get to the root of the problem – the clogged pore. Whereas chemical exfoliants – despite the aggressive sounding name – provide a gentle, smoother and deeper exfoliation. What ingredients unclog pores? Chemical exfoliating ingredients include salicylic acid which is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), lactic acid, mandelic acid and LHA. Salicylic acid is recommended to treat clogged pores as this beta hydroxy acid penetrates deeper into pores than AHAs. The Effaclar Acne skincare range includes 3 salicylic acid products to remove build up in congested pores and dissolve oils.

3. Non Comedogenic Moisturiser
Avoid thick occlusive moisturising ingredients such as cocoa butter and coconut oil if you are prone to clogged pores. Choose a moisturiser that is listed as non-comedogenic and contains lightweight hydrating ingredients that won’t cause blockages. Efflaclar Anti Shine is a matte moisturiser that is non-comedogenic and non-greasy.

A hydrating, oil free serum can also be an effective and safe way to increase moisture in congested, acne prone skin. La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 is an oil-free gel serum with vitamin b5 and hyaluronic acid which provides lightweight hydration and assists the skin to retain moisture. Hyalu B5 assists in improving signs of ageing, however the ingredients and formula can also be beneficial for acne prone skin. A dual-action serum for those who are acne-prone or have clogged pores.

4. Blackhead Face Mask
A weekly clay mask will work to draw out impurities, refine large pores, and absorb excess oil. Try the La Roche-Posay Clay Mask once a week after cleansing and before moisturising. This anti-acne mask is made from gentle kaolin clay to purify congested pores. It also contains glycerine, thermal spring water, and vitamin B5 to soothe and hydrate. Apply a thin layer and leave for five minutes.

5. Non Comedogenic Sunscreen
Sunscreen is vital part of your skincare routine, especially if you are using any exfoliants or retinols that make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure. However, many sunscreens can clog pores, which then leads to blemishes. To keep your pores clear use a non-comedogenic sunscreen doesn’t cause congestion and breakouts. The Anthelios Anti-Shine Tinted Sunscreen won’t clog pores or feel greasy, and gives skin a soft, diffused tint.

6. Non Comedogenic Makeup
If you crave coverage – choose makeup that has ingredients specifically formulated for oily skin and won’t clog pores. The Victoria State Government Health Department recommends oil-free, water-based cosmetics for acne-prone skin. La Roche Posay has a makeup range for sensitive skin which includes lightweight, mattifying foundations for oily skin types. Of course, always wash your makeup off before going to bed or you’ll create more blocked pores.

Gentle, effective skincare products assist in unclogging pores. Find what works for you and regularly cleanse, exfoliate, treat and hydrate to keep your pores clean and clear.

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