How to Unclog Your Pores

Skin is constantly bombarded (from both inside and out) with pore-clogging debris – dead skin cells, oil, makeup, bacteria, sweat, and pollution, which congest pores and cause blockages. The result is breakouts and blackheads (a clogged pore becomes a blackhead when the build-up breaks through at the skin’s surface, oxidises and turns black) – neither of which anyone wants. So how do you get rid of pores?

Contrary to popular belief, there’s actually no way to remove, close, or shrink pores – they’re all over our skin, and they’re the natural way our skin keeps itself hydrated. If they’re noticeable, that’s because they’re clogged. Getting rid of them (and keeping them clear!) is a process that requires both the right products and the right technique. Scroll down for both.

1. Look for products containing charcoal

Charcoal has many amazing uses when it comes to beauty, but using it to unclog pores is one of the most beneficial. It basically acts like a magnet, attracting and lifting anything on or in the skin contributing to clogged pores, and absorbing deep-rooted toxins and pollutants in the process.

Beauty Editor’s Pick: Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Mask

Charcoal needs to be in physical contact with impurities in order to absorb them efficiently, so the longer a product sits on your skin, the better the results. Which is why it’s recommended to get your charcoal fix in mask form, like this one – designed specifically to detoxify pores.

2. Use peels to lift surface build-up

It might seem like a gimmick (and they won’t work to prevent clogged pores), but a peel-off mask is one uber efficient way to lift build-up – especially blackheads. There’s also something weirdly gratifying (if a little bit gross) about pulling all the crap from your face in one go and actually being able to see it.

Beauty Editor’s Pick: Revolution Skincare Pore Cleansing Charcoal Peel Off Mask

Paint on this thick black gel, leave it for 20 minutes (snap a few selfies), and it dries into a skin-tight paper thin layer that easily peels off in one go, leaving only empty pores in its wake. It’s our favourite way to target problem areas (T-zone we’re looking at you).

3. Manually exfoliate 2-3 times a week

Manual exfoliation will lift impurities and dry skin cells instantly – and combined with cleansing and treatment masks, is one of the fastest ways to keep your pores clear of debris and improve your skin’s clogged pore problem. It’s basically a means of resurfacing your skin and buffing away the dead skin cells kickstart the clogging process.

Beauty Editor’s Pick: Foreo Luna Mini 3 Electric Facial Cleanser

If you have clogged pores then cleansing with an electric cleanser  will be far more efficient than hands alone – and they’re also so gentle.

4. Use chemical exfoliants to dissolve buildup

Chemical exfoliation is basically a supercharged version of the above, since it works by dissolving anything clogging pores – dead skin, makeup, dirt, bacteria, oil, you name it – chemical exfoliants (typically derived from fruit acids) will cut right through and destroy even the deepest-rooted blackheads that have taken permanent residence on your face. For best results, alternate between physical and chemical exfoliants – but don’t overdo either, you don’t want to strip your skin

Beauty Editor’s Pick: The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

This glycolic acid toner exfoliates skin in an incredibly gentle and refreshing way. A potent 5% blend of glycolic acid breaks down build-up and jumpstarts skin’s metabolism to improve cell turnover. Just a quick wipe a couple of times a week is all you need.

5. Always double cleanse

Cleansing might be a given, but going back in for round two will make a massive difference, especially if you’ve been wearing makeup. Build-up of makeup quickly clogs pores, causing skin to break out and look dull and congested, and a once over with a face wash simply won’t cut through it. Get into the habit of double cleansing to really reap the benefits of your cleanser and ensure that every last morsel of makeup is removed.

Beauty Editor’s Pick: Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

When it comes to unclogging pores (especially blackheads), look for cleansers containing salicylic acid. This miracle ingredient triggers cell turnover by penetrating skin and dissolving the ‘glue’ that binds the dead skin cells that clog pores. Use this light gel cleanser for a week and skin will appear clearer and brighter.