Pay Attention to the Pores! Skincare Routine for Clogged Pores

Pay Attention to the Pores! Skincare Routine for Clogged Pores

If you’re a newbie to skincare, you must be wondering, why is everybody so obsessed with their pores? Clogged pores, oily pores, enlarged pores, discolored pores, etc. We’ve seen every article and product targeting them. And let me just tell you, don’t buy into pore propaganda. Everyone has pores! There’s no permanent way to change the size of the pore itself. All you need to worry about is keeping them healthy.

What’s the purpose of pores?

While I often think why do my enlarged pores have the audacity to be on my face, pores actually serve a purposeful function in our bodies. Pores are indentations on our skin where sweat or oil move from the gland and reach the surface of our skin (1).

We have two kinds of pores: ones for sweat and ones for oil. When the skincare industry and experts refer to pores, they are talking about our oil pores, as sweat pores aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Our body produces sebum from our oil glands to keep our skin nice and moisturized. Your pores are essentially the end of the oil distribution pathway. This is why you can never truly “get rid” of your pores, nor should you want to.

How do pores get clogged?

Most of the time, your skin has no trouble dumping out excess oil and dead skin cells. But sometimes, there might be a blockage along the way. Clogged pores occur when that oil, dead skin cells, and other gunk get stuck in the hair follicle. This sucks because when you got clogged pores, you got acne.

While pore-clogging can naturally happen on its own, the products you put on your skin may increase the chance of blockage. Have you ever seen conflicting reviews for a moisturizer where some people love it and some people start breaking out? I sure have. Everyone’s pores are different and may be sensitive to different formulas. 

Makeup is another big factor. First, did you remember to take off your makeup before going to sleep? Having makeup on for prolonged periods of time may not let your skin breathe enough (4). Furthermore, makeup like silicone-based primers is literally filling in your pores to create that smooth, air-brushed effect.

Your safe bet is to look for non-comedogenic formulas and ingredients. Comedogenic is a term that refers to the tendency to clog pores. By checking for the non-comedogenic label, you are lowering the chances of developing clogged pores. You may be surprised that coconut oil is rather comedogenic.

The Ultimate Guide to Clogged Pore Prevention and Elimination

Pay attention to the Pores! Ultimate guide to skincare routine for clogged pores

Achieving healthy pores can be easier than you think! The keyword is exfoliate. I feel like there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the term exfoliate. When we hear the word, we may think I’m referring to a specific product like a scrub or a toner. However, any ingredient can be exfoliating if it gets rid of dead skin cells and supports skin cell turnover. Especially for products targeting oily skin, there are exfoliating ingredients in any step of the ritual like cleansers and moisturizers.

The best ingredients for clogged pores:

  • AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids)
    • These water-soluble acids slough off the dead skin cells on the top layer of your skin (the epidermis) and a lower layer of your skin (the dermis).
  • BHA’s (Beta Hydroxy Acids)
    • These lipid-soluble acids can penetrate the deeper, fatty layers of the skin, which is super effective for oily or acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid is a popular type of BHA found in all sorts of products.
  • Retinol/Retinoid
    • Truly a powerful product. While boosting collagen production, these products can also help with overactive oil glands and reduce dead skin cells. Clogged pores begone!
  • Clay Masks
    • Bentonite clay can really zap up excess oils. And less excess oils means less chance for clogged pores.

But besides exfoliating, moisturizing is just as important. If you don’t moisturize properly, your skin will create more oil to compensate. Choose your moisturizer or facial oil carefully. If it’s too thick, it may not let your skin breathe!

Habits that may be clogging your pores

1. Touching your face

Look. I totally get it. Sometimes your face gets itchy or you might need to rub your nose. When I’m stressed or thinking deeply, I can’t help but touch my forehead. But this is a habit you need to quit. Every time you touch your face, you are transferring oils and bacteria from your hands. Maybe one touch isn’t enough to cause a breakout, but all the oils can build up, especially if you are prone to oiliness already.

2. Not washing your pillowcase often enough

Same principle as touching your face. The oils from your hair and overnight sweat get on your pillow. If you’re anything like me, I tend to roll around in my sleep, soaking up all that gunk into my face. I daresay that we should be washing our pillowcases about once a week (2). It might sound too much at first, but honestly, think about how often we go to bed with squeaky clean hair. Don’t you ever just hit the hay with lots of dry shampoo in your hair?

3. Not knowing your skin mood

Over the last couple of years, oils have been extremely popular in beauty care. Coconut oil has been especially ubiquitous. The catch is that coconut oil isn’t great for everyone’s skin. Before you incorporate a new step in your ritual, look where the product lies on the comedogenic scale to avoid clogged pores.

4. Skipping the shower after you exercise

Do you ever feel grimy after a good workout? You probably are. Old sweat + dirt + bacteria = clogged pores and acne. It’s good practice to cleanse after a workout. If you can’t hop into a shower right away, at least give your face a quick rinse to keep your skin fresh. (4)


It’s no real rocket science. Maintaining healthy pores really comes down to avoid excess oil and dead skin cell build-up. This can be achieved by exfoliating, using non-comedogenic products, and keeping good hygiene. 

Written by Jessica Lu


Removing Blackheads Yourself – The Right Way

How Comedogenic Ingredients are Making the World a "Pore" Place


  1. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-pores-15488
  2. https://www.popsugar.com/beauty/How-Often-Should-You-Wash-Pillowcase-Avoid-Acne-44911952
  3. https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-unclog-pores-4686861
  4. https://www.bustle.com/articles/189102-11-habits-that-could-be-clogging-your-pores-without-you-even-realizing-it

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