HOW TO REMOVE BLACKHEADS AND UNCLOG PORES?
Large or clogged pores are often an unwanted visible presence on the complexion. The beauty ideal of smooth, ‘poreless’ skin has led to countless skincare products claiming to be the answer to the longstanding question: how to get rid of blackheads and pores.
Unfortunately, the concept of removing pores is a myth. As pores are an essential structural element of the skin, it is impossible to remove them. However, pores that are excessively visible have usually become enlarged due to a blockage of excess sebaceous matter or external impurities.
Pore size is genetically determined to a certain extent, but enlarged pores are frequently a sign of excess oil production and clogged pores.
While you can’t remove or erase enlarged pores, there is significant potential to minimise pores via a targeted skincare routine. By utilising high efficacy ingredients and products, it’s possible to unclog problem pores and reduce their appearance.
WHAT CAUSES ENLARGED PORES AND BLACKHEADS?
Although they can be sometimes prone to issues, pores serve an essential function within the skin. Just as the entire body is covered in hair that is more visible in some places than others, the same goes for our pores. Each hair follicle within the skin also contains a pore at the top, which perform the vital function of releasing sweat or sebum (oil) to help regulate the body’s temperature and moisturise the skin.
Pores can become clogged when impurities reach the surface of the skin and are able to settle. This can be due to environmental impurities such as dirt, dust or pollen particles. If you use makeup that is not non-comedogenic or an inadequate makeup removal routine, these remnants can also clog the pores. The last factor that can cause clogged pores comes from within the body. If you have an oily or combination skin type that’s prone to excess sebum production, your pores may become clogged with a ‘plug’ consisting of excess sebaceous matter and dead skin cells.
When a pore is clogged, it will stretch to accommodate the additional matter and may become enlarged. The result: visibly enlarged pores, or pore plugs that are exposed to the air and darken to become open comedones (blackheads).
HOW TO GET RID OF CLOGGED PORES
There are two approaches to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores on the face. All skincare products that aim to reduce pores either target clogged pores or regulate sebum to tighten them. Attempts to tighten a pore that remains clogged with sebaceous matter or impurities will be ineffective, so lets first understand the benefits of chemical exfoliants such as hydroxy acids to unclog pores.
HOW TO UNCLOG PORES USING AHAS AND BHAS
When it comes to targeting blocked pores, hydroxy acids are the most effective category of ingredients to integrate into your skincare routine. These acids can be divided into two distinct types: Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids. Both these types are water-soluble acids that have the powerful ability to unclog pores by exfoliating the skin on a cellular level. It is useful to understand the difference between the types of hydroxy acids and why including products containing both can help resolve existing clogged pores and reduce future occurrences.
BENEFITS OF PRODUCTS WITH ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (commonly known as AHAs) are a category of highly beneficial chemical exfoliants often derived from plant sugars. AHAs increase cell turnover, working to dissolve the connection between dead skin cells and the stratum corneum. AHAs are also an ideal chemical exfoliant option for more sensitive skin types, as they are gentler than BHAs. Key types of AHAs include glycolic acid and lactic acid.
If you haven’t previously used any products containing AHAs, we suggest introducing them to your routine gradually to reduce the likelihood of possible side effects such as burning on the skin. Use products with a concentration of 10% or less every second day, before working towards applying each day. AHAs can be used in a variety of different stages in your skincare routine, depending on what kind of product they are contained in, e.g a cleanser or a cream.
BENEFITS OF PRODUCTS CONTAINING BETA HYDROXY ACIDS
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) function similarly to AHAs, however they penetrate deep into the pores to help dissolve and remove skin cells and sebaceous matter that forms blockages. For this reason, BHAs are recommended for oily skin prone to blackheads. Use BHAs with caution if you have a dry or sensitive skin type. Salicylic acid is the most commonly used BHA in skincare and can be found naturally in the bark of willow trees.
Just as with AHAs, BHAs can eventually be used daily for optimal pore un-clogging results. We recommend beginning by using a cleanser, toner or serum containing BHAs once a week, then slowly increasing the frequency of use depending on sensitivity. The process of application varies depending on the product type, as does the ideal concentration. Salicylic acid may not be suitable for very sensitive skin types.
HOW TO GET RID OF BLACKHEADS USING SALICYLIC ACID AND RETINOL
Blackhead removal is a key concern for many people looking to minimise their pores, however a skincare routine enriched with targeted ingredients can help prevent open comedones and eliminate the need for more invasive techniques like extractions.
If blackheads are one of the causes of your enlarged pores, try incorporating salicylic acid and retinol into your routine to unclog and tighten the pores. Here are the specifics on how to best integrate these two ingredients into your routine.
Our Simply Clean Makeup Removal Cleanser cleanser contains sulfonic acid to efficiently remove all traces of stubborn makeup to avoid blocked pores. Follow up with our SkinCeuticals Equalizing Toner enriched with both BHAs (salicylic acid) and AHAs (Glycolic Acid) to freshen and decongest the skin while minimising the appearance of pores.
On the days in between applying your hydroxy acid products, try gradually introducing the skin to our Retinol 0.3 cream to tighten your newly unclogged pores. Retinol creams are highly effective in tightening pores due to their dual function of stimulating the synthesis of collagen while reducing excess sebum production. However, this powerful ingredient can cause irritation, so increase the frequency of application slowly over time to minimise pores without dryness or flaking.
SKINCARE TIPS TO COMPLIMENT YOUR PORE MINIMISING ROUTINE
Now that you understand how to unclog pores and reduce blackheads using targeted ingredients, take note of a few final tips to avoid enlarged pores.
If your skin is still feeling oily despite your targeted skincare routine, consider eliminating facial oils from your routine or swapping to an oil-free moisturiser. For an instant purifying and pore-unclogging effect, try our Clarifying Clay Masque. This masque is enriched with kaolin and bentonite clay as well as a hydroxy acid blend to deeply refine the pores and kickstart the process of pore minimisation.
Lastly, be sure to apply a high SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen every day to compliment your pore refining routine, since hydroxy acids and retinol are both known to increase sun sensitivity.
Enlarged pores are often related to an oily skin type. Learn more about how to help manage your skin by reading our Ultimate Skincare Routine for Oily Skin.