Why do you have clogged pores?
Clogged pores happen because something has gone wrong. To put it simply, at the bottom of each pore on your face there is a sebaceous gland that produces sebum. The function of sebum is to keep your skin nice and soft.
Dead cells and debris however can fall into your open pores and become caught up by the sebum (sebum is really sticky). This is where your problems start, because this mix of debris and sebum forms a plug in your pore, which pushes up towards the surface forming a bump called a comedone.
What is a Blackhead?
When a comedone is formed, if the pore remains blocked you just have a whitehead, but if the exit to the surface becomes stretched, due to the mix of sebum and debris pushing against it, the sebum oxidizes in the air and becomes black – you now have a blackhead!
This is only one of the more common causes of clogged pores. Other causes include:
- Using oil based makeup or moisturizers that increases the amount of oil on your skin and clogging your pores.
- Hormonal changes that also lead to an excess of sebum on your skin.
- Not cleaning your skin properly and letting all of the debris and dead skin cells accumulate in your pores, clogging them and creating an excess of sebum.
Avoid excessive cleaning & exfoliation
Excessive cleaning and over exfoliation of your skin can lead to an exacerbation of your blackheads. This is because when you continually remove all of the sebum from your skin, your skin becomes dry, but it is supposed to be naturally oily (to a degree).
The sebaceous glands then start overproducing sebum to keep your skin nice and soft, so even though you are cleaning your face fastidiously – you end up with an overproduction of sebum and an environment that can lead to clogged pores and blackheads.
So you need to avoid over cleaning and over exfoliating your skin. This means that you should pay close attention to the instructions that come with your facial scrubs, glycolic acid peels and microdermabrasion treatments to ensure that you are not doing more harm than good to your skin.
What is acne?
Whiteheads and blackheads are actually forms of acne, we just don’t tend to think of them that way. When we talk about acne we usually envision a papule (a small pink bump or comedone that can be tender and might or might not come to a head) or a pustule (red at the bottom with a head of pus on top). The pus comes from bacteria entering your pore and it becomes red and swollen.
Cysts take this one step further, because with cystic acne the bacterial infection has gone deeper into your skin and can linger for ages, making your skin look unsightly and leaving you with significant scarring as well. If these cysts burst, they can actually spread the infection over your skin.
The most likely cause of cystic acne are hormonal changes and you will benefit from talking to your dermatologist who can prescribe a customized combination of antibiotics and topical treatments to deal with your condition.
What are acne scars?
Acne scars are usually caused by severe acne or cystic acne. With cystic acne, the cysts actually destroy some of your tissues, causing an indentation in your skin. It is these indentations where tissue has been lost that causes the scarring, but they can also be lumpy areas as well, particularly on your back or chest.
There are a variety of different treatments for acne scarring, depending on the type of scarring and your skin type. These include fillers, corticosteroids and laser treatments. It is best to talk to your dermatologist if you suffer from acne scarring.
Caring for acne and blackhead prone skin
For severe acne, always pay attention to the instructions from your dermatologist. Other than talking to your dermatologist, the following tips work well for people with acne and blackhead prone skin, as well as mildly clogged pores.
The backbone of caring for skin that is prone to clogged pores should be a thorough cleansing, at least twice a day, and using an oil free moisturizer, as well as the right type of exfoliation.
- Use a mild and gentle cleanser twice a day and any time that you sweat heavily, for example after going to the gym. Cleansers that contain salicylic acid are great for keeping clogged pores at bay – check out the Obagi CLENZIderm M.D Daily Care Foaming Cleanser with 2% salicylic acid (currently selling for around $40) or the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash with 2% salicylic acid (currently selling for around $20).
- Use non comedogenic skincare products that won’t give you clogged pores. Check out the Organic Facial Moisturizer by Christina Moss Naturals (around $25) and Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen (SPF 55) for less than $10.
- Gentle exfoliation is also important for skin that is prone to clogged pores, as this helps to keep your skin free from debris and dead skin cells, as well preventing a build up of sebum and the formation of comedones. For acne prone skin it is best to avoid harsh grainy exfoliants, because they can irritate your skin, so check out the Microdermabrasion Vitamin Facial Scrub by MaryRuth Organics for around $40 or the Microdermabrasion Cream by LAVO for around $25.
- You can also check out actual microdermabrasion devices, such as the Microderm GLO Diamond Microdermabrasion System by Nuvéderm (around $200) or the INNOLV Blackhead Remover for less than $50.
Always remember to talk to your medical practitioner or dermatologist, so you can tailor your regime for your skin type.
- Top 10 Body Scrubs for Beautiful Soft Skin.
- Top 10 Spa Facial Steamers for squeaky Clean Skin.
- Glycolic Acid FAQ.