The 5 Best Exfoliators For Clogged Pores

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Despite what beauty marketing might have you believe, you can't actually shrink the size of your pores. That said, you can make them appear smaller by keeping them clear of blackhead-causing dead skin and oil through regular exfoliation. Exfoliating is a tricky business, however, and not just any exfoliator will do: you're going to need one of the best exfoliators for clogged pores specifically. But first, it's important to arm yourself with some key exfoliating facts.

There are two ways to exfoliate your skin: chemically or manually. Most people probably associate exfoliating with manual (or physical) exfoliation, which typically requires some sort of physical action, like rubbing, scrubbing, brushing, or even dermaplaning, to buff away dead skin. Face scrubs, for example, fall under the physical exfoliant umbrella. But because many physical exfoliants include abrasive ingredients (like grains, beads, or ground nut shells), they can be a bit harsh on skin — especially if you're already dealing with redness and irritation. That's where chemical exfoliants come in.

Chemical exfoliants use — you guessed it — chemical ingredients to shed dead skin and encourage cellular turnover. And out of all the different types of chemical exfoliants out there, BHAs are the best when it comes to penetrating deep into your pores to clear out dead skin and oil, which is why they're so great for oily and acne-prone skin types (which typically go hand-in-hand with clogged pores). One of the most commonly used BHAs in skin care is salicylic acid, so if unclogging your pores is your main priority, look for a product that contains this key ingredient.

Now that you're well-versed on exfoliating 101, scroll on to discover five of the best exfoliators for squeaky clean pores.