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How to Clear Clogged Pores and Get Smooth Skin

Clogged pores and clear skin

Clogged pores are so annoying – they prevent a nice smooth complexion and can be really hard to clear up.

Even with a covering of foundation they can make your skin look bumpy. Perhaps you squeeze a few occasionally but they just come back the next day. Ugh.

So how do you unclog your skin, and keep it clear and smooth? This article will show you how.

Clogged Pores vs Blackheads: Are They The Same Thing?

Clogged pores aren’t necessarily blackheads (although blackheads are clogged pores…)

Because there are differences, it is much more helpful to be specific! Treatment is then a lot more successful.

What Is A Clogged Pore (this is important!)?

A pore that is blocked… Yes yes, obvious.

But we can separate them from pimples by the fact they don’t involve inflammation. This is good, but also crap because they can stay blocked indefinitely (there’s no need for your body to get rid of them like a pimple).

This is what makes them stubborn.

Sometimes you can’t even see the things unless you’re in a certain light at a certain angle! However, they do interrupt smooth skin. And they can turn into pimples or even cysts.

They are also a sign that your skin is unbalanced, so are definitely worth treating.

They can be your only skin problem or be a part of acne breakouts, dehydration, or even dry skin. Whatever your skin type, the advice on this page will help.

What Is A Blackhead?

Similar, but let’s differentiate – a blackhead is a plug in a pore. Because it is open, it oxidizes and turns black.

Blackheads can be more stubborn that “simple” clogged pores, and they tend to form in larger pores especially on your nose or chin. While the steps and advice on this page will help them too, see this article for everything you need to know about getting rid of those black plugs!

Let’s get on with treating clogged pores and clearing your skin – we’ll look at common causes, specific areas (like nose and forehead), and exactly what to do about them!

How To Treat, Clear and Unclog Those Pores!

Clogged Pores On Your Nose

This is probably the most common area to get blocked pores – and also blackheads. The nooks and crannies of your nose make it a prime spot for oil, dirt, dead skin cells and skin care products to collect!

Here is how to clear the pores on your nose:

  • This area tends to have larger pores than the rest of your face, so extra attention may be needed
  • Use a Salicylic Acid Exfoliant every day or two, leave it on for several seconds then rinse. Be sure to apply it to the crease/sides of your nose where oil and dead skin cells get trapped. The salicylic acid will help dissolve and clean out the pores.
  • You may not need to apply moisturizer on your nose all the time! This is blasphemy in some skin care circles, but the truth is, the nose can generally handle not being moisturized as it makes a lot of its own oil.
  • Your nose also doesn’t get as assaulted by the environment like your cheeks or forehead thanks to its shape, so it may not dry out as much. Just use a moisturizer when needed on this area.
  • And use an oil free moisturizer when you do! There is nothing worse than a greasy or too-rich moisturizer that actually just makes your skin worse.
  • A great tip is to apply a layer of clay mask to your nose at night and leave it on. This helps “shrink” your pores overnight by preventing too much oil production,  the ingredients in the clay mask will also help get into the pores and clear them out as you sleep

You can squeeze the pores on your nose if needed – do be careful as this area tends to scar or bruise easily with over zealous squeezing. A blackhead extractor is often the easiest way to get out that gunk safely!

How To Clear Clogged Pores On Your Forehead and Cheeks

These often appear as lots of little bumps on your skin that prevent a nice smooth complexion. They may only be visible in natural light at a certain angle!

On the forehead it is usually due to this area being naturally oily (T zone), wearing a fringe/bangs, wearing a hat, or hair products that can clog the pores.

On the cheeks clogged pores are often caused by makeup or sunscreen and not washing it off thoroughly enough.

For both these areas, a good cleanse and exfoliation is really important:

  • If you use makeup removal wipes as your cleanser, be sure to use at least two or three. The first should be to remove most of the gunk and makeup, the next should be to ensure your skin is clean. This means the wipe you should be clean at the end! If it is still coming off with foundation or dirt, you need to keep cleansing your skin.
  • Be sure to cleanse/wipe right to the ears. Don’t stop at the middle of the cheeks which is so easy to do. You can do a “circle” by wiping or massaging your cleanser from your nose, down the sides of your ears, then back to your chin.
  • Be sure to remove the cleanser thoroughly. A soft clean wash cloth is a great way to do this – use it to gently wipe your face at the end to ensure everything is off. Because yes, cleanser left on the skin can clog pores!
  • Using an exfoliating toner is one of the best ways to ensure clean skin. especially because once your skin is cleansed, the exfoliator can really do its job by getting deep into the pores, instead of having to deal with a surface layer of the day’s makeup or grime.
  • See our Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% here which is super easy to use as a toner

Forehead special tips:

  • If you wear a hat, be sure to wash it frequently! If you wear a hat when working out, it might be best to stop…. but I understand 🙂 Just make sure it is clean, you take it off as soon as your done with your workout, and cleanse your skin. Sweat allowed to accumulate under a hat isn’t good for clear, smooth pores!
  • If you wear your hair down or it touches your forehead pay extra attention to the cleansing tips above. Further, you may like to experiment with different hair products and see if that helps – some can cause a reaction with your skin and increase oil production and breakouts.
  • Like the nose, the forehead can get away with not being moisturizer all the time if needed. Pay attention to your skin and give it what it needs 🙂

Extra Important Tips For Keeping Your Skin Clear and Smooth:

  • Cleansing after exercise/sweating is important, but so often we forget to cleanse before exercise! This is perhaps more important, as when you sweat your pores open. This can lead to lots of clogged pores and breakouts.
  • An easy and quick way to do this is by wiping your skin with witch hazel or micellar water beforehand, until the cotton pad comes off clean. This is much easier than actually using a cleanser, especially at the gym!
  • If your skin suddenly becomes more clogged and/or starts breaking out, think back to any new products you may be starting. Moisturizers in particular can cause this – it may just not agree with your skin even if its a generally good product.
  • Experiment with replacing the suspected culprit for a week. If it is the product that is causing breakouts and blockages you will know very quickly

How To Treat Deep Clogged Pores

The advice above is standard and important for keeping your skin clear. However if you are dealing with deep clogged pores you need some extra tips.

These may be really buried in the skin and may have been there for a long time.

It’s important to get through the “top layer” of skin to clear the clog underneath. This is where good exfoliation comes in!

Chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid and salicylic acid are perfect here. They both dissolve dead skin cells and oil, and provide a nice even exfoliation.

Which chemical exfoliant is right for your skin?

Salicylic acid is great if you also have acne or breakouts. Its anti bacterial and slight drying effect make it a standard in acne treatment.

Glycolic acid is great for everything… it provides a more surface exfoliation by sloughing off the top layer of skin.

This is especially good for clarifying and smoothing. It can also be effective on fine lines and pigmentation.

Use these acids consistently! 

  • With deep clogged pores it may take a week or two to loosen them up. Exfoliating will help the top layer of skin “release” them, so you might be able to extract them at this point (gently!).
  • Keep exfoliating – it has to be a part of your routine – to prevent any more deep blockages

A Retinol product is also beneficial:

  • Retinol (Vitamin A) increases cell turnover. This turnover helps keep skin clear and smooth as pores don’t get a chance to block
  • This can be really beneficial for deep clogged pores, as it will help bring them to the surface
  • It is important to give it at least two weeks to start noticing a difference. Like most active products, the good stuff takes time (and is worth it)
  • A good retinol moisturizer combined with a glycolic acid product can be a great way to clear up skin

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