How Do I Fight Clogged Pores? 9 Expert Tips For Clearer Skin

Skin woes can feel incredibly frustrating, but they happen to everyone. Instead of panicking, it's better to start at the source — your pores. Fighting clogged pores and preventing breakouts is entirely doable with a few expert tips. Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a New York-based dermatologist, gave her advice for getting clearer skin with effective products and skin care approaches that (if not already in your bathroom cabinet) certainly should be on deck.

One of her favorite methods for taking care of blocked pores and breakout-prone skin? She suggests working a glycolic acid face wash into your skin care routine. Those formulas can be very effective at gently exfoliating dead skin, creating a lasting smooth texture free of bumps and blemishes. For getting rid of blackheads, she recommends some fast-acting and deep cleansing facial strips that remove the deepest traces of dirt and oil that stop up your pores. Dr. Papantoniou also offers some insightful tips on understanding which cleansers and toners could work best for you, according to your skin type. 

Between your busy schedule of work and school and anything else you have on your plate, the last thing you should be stressing about is a new breakout or clogged pores. Read on, and check out the Dr. Papantoniou-approved tips that will finally help you get your pores unblocked for clearer skin.

Use A Face Steamer Before Washing For A Deeper Clean

Secura Nano Ionic NanoCare Facial Steamer, $35, Amazon

According to Dr. Papantoniou, "Face steamers work well to help hydrate and loosen debris on the skin and clogging pores." Why do they work so well? "The warm temperature relaxes your skin, allowing for pores to dilate, which also makes it easier for them to be cleaned," she says. This essential beauty tool releases hot steam in seconds, which opens up your pores. This allows you to better eliminate pesky breakouts that come from not washing excess dirt and oils from deep within the skin's surface. Bonus: This facial steamer even comes with a one-year warranty. 

Wash With A Saclicylic Acid Cleanser To Reduce Breakouts

Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Cleanser, $20, Amazon

Dr. Papantoniou recommends washing your face twice a day with a salicylic acid cleanser. "Salicylic acid cleansers work to exfoliate the dead top layer of skin cells and penetrate into the oils inside pores for deeper cleansing." This orange-scented face wash works to reduce breakouts and clear your skin without any irritation. Users rave that this product is a great cleanser and makeup remover. Pro Tip: Dr. Papantoniou recommends letting the cleanser sit for two to three minutes after you lather and before you rinse, as "the longer the salicylic acid cleanser stays on your skin, the more beneficial it will be." 

And Glycolic Acid Wash Also Exfoliates To Prevent Pore Blockages

This oil-free cleanser softens and exfoliates your skin to improve overall texture, and it's one of Dr. Papantoniou's personal recommendations. Because of its glycolic acid content, it's able to stimulate cell turnover, which keeps your skin looking fresh for a bright complexion that's free of blocked pores. It also contains allantoin to calm any irritation that results from the glycolic acid.

...or Wash With A Charcoal-Based Product To Minimize Pore Size

All Natural Charcoal Cleansing Cream, $13, Amazon

In the morning, use apply to two pumps of this mild cream charcoal cleanser to your wet face and neck, before rubbing it in a circular motion. According to Dr. Papantoniou, "charcoal based cleansers can also help to physically exfoliate and remove impurities from the skin." This will result in minimized pore sizes that will give your skin a healthier and brighter appearance. This formula is also packed with calming aloe leaf juice and green tea leaf, in addition to nourishing vitamin E oil.

After Cleansing, Witch Hazel Toner Wipes Away Dead Skin Cells On Oily Skin

Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner, $9, Amazon

"Using a toner after washing can help remove residual dead skin cells and oils on the skin," says Dr. Papantoniou. For oily skin types, she recommends using a toner with witch hazel to give you smooth and balanced skin. This vegan toner removes everything from oil to dirt to makeup residue — all without over-drying your skin. One user said, "I love this toner. My skin feels wonderful after using it, and the redness and irritation from the inflammation has decreased significantly."

...Or For Dry Skin, Follow Cleansing With  Alcohol-Free Toner To Remove Excess Build-Up

Clarins Toning Lotion Normal to Dry Skin, $16, Amazon

If your skin tends to be on the drier side, Dr. Papantoniou suggests choosing a toner that is completely alcohol-free. This toner contains camomile for an extra gentle touch, which is great for clearing even the most sensitive skin. Users say this toner even works for gently removing makeup, and one reviewer said, "Love this toner. It's very soothing and it makes my skin very soft."

Use Fast-Acting Deep Cleansing Strips To Eliminate Black Heads

Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips, 24 Count, $13, Amazon 

Getting rid of blackheads can seem impossible, but Dr. Papantoniou recommends these deep cleansing strips for removing deep, stubborn pore blockages. She said they "can help reduce the size and appearance of dilated pores on the nose." They're easy-to-use, and they pick up deeply built-up dirt and oil from your pores to leave skin looking (and feeling) refreshed. Bonus: These strips are unscented, hypoallergenic, and dermatologist tested, so even those with sensitive skin can enjoy their benefits. 

Treat Skin To A Natural Face Mask With Pore-Cleaning Kaolin

Clay Face Mask with White Kaolin Mineral Clay, $13, Amazon

If you struggle with a lot of blackheads or an uneven skin tone, this mineral face mask will be your next best friend. Loaded with Kaolin, a natural-found clay that Dr. Papantoniou says is "excellent at drawing extra oils from skin," this product will give you a well-balanced, hydrated complexion that glows. It pulls out the deepest impurities from the skin's layers, and it won't strip skin of the natural oils it needs to stay healthy and bright. Users rave about this mask, giving it top ratings for stimulating circulation, removing dead skin cells, and calming their skin. 

...Or Remove Skin Impurities With A Charcoal Face Mask

Freeman Facial Charcoal & Black Sugar Polish Mask, $10, Amazon

Like face masks with kaolin, charcoal masks "can also help remove impurities and draw oils and debris from your pores," says Dr. Papantoniou. This skin polishing mask also contains black sugar, which acts as a natural exfoliator. One reviewer said, "This leaves your skin perfect, smooth, and doesn't dry your skin out one bit! It actually hydrates your skin the right way. I will use this for the rest of my life." Pro Tip: Leave this mask on for about five to seven minutes before rinsing, and use it twice a week for the best results. 

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Images: Fotolia (1); Amazon (9)

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