FYI, your skin is constantly battling sweat, pollution and pore-clogging makeup. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, keeping your pores spick and span is especially hard work. After all, there are so many things trying to congest your pores on a daily basis, including certain skincare ingredients and your body’s natural oil production.
See, a pore is “a duct in the skin that is attached to the sebaceous glands that produce sebum,” explains esthetician Renée Rouleau. Oily skin types (which create more sebum) are more prone to experience blockages in their pores, which, in the first instance can lead to blackheads, as the blogged sebum and skin cells oxidise and turn black. As blocked bacteria is allowed to thrive, congestion can also lead to whiteheads and papules. Ick.
The goal, of course, is to clear your pores, allowing oxygen to flow freely through them so that bacteria can’t cause problems. But it’s easier said than done. Lucky for you, we are in the business of helping you solve your skin woes and have put together a list of easy, effective ways to keep your pores in tip-top shape.
1. Parsely Soak
The garnish makes an amazing DIY pore-decongesting treatment. Who knew? As a natural astringent, parsley effectively pulls out toxins and other skin-clogging impurities. Take freshly washed parsley and submerge them in a bowl of boiling water. Allow it to soak until the water has cooled. Then, dip a washcloth into the water and place it on your face for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this ritual every other day.
2. Baking Soda Scrub
Your standard, household baking soda makes for an easy deep pore cleanser that gently exfoliates. Mix two teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water to make a paste. Use circular motions to gently massage the mixture onto your face. Leave it on the skin for about five minutes, and then rinse clean. Do this once a week to remove dead skin cells and balance the skin.
3. Lemon Treatment
For squeaky-clean pores, raid your fruit basket twice a week. The citric acid in lemons works to exfoliate skin, clearing out any dirt or oil residing in your pores. Simply cut a lemon in half and rub it over the affected area. Let it stand for five minutes, and then rinse with lukewarm water.
4. Pore Strips
Yes, the pore strips you remember from back in the day really do get the job done. Bioré Deep Pore Cleansing Strips (£9) are made with selective bonding agents that act like a magnet, locking into and lifting away deep-down dirt and buildup from your pores without harming the skin.
5. Double Exfoliation
The power of regular exfoliation can never be overstated. It’s one of the simplest and most fundamental ways to unclog pores and keep them that way. If your manual exfoliators aren’t cutting it, try combining a cleansing device with a chemical exfoliator. Grab your Clarisonic Mia 2 (£120) or a konjac sponge (we love The Konjac Company Pure Konjac Puff Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal, £9), and use it with an acid cleanser, like Mario Badescu's Glycolic Foaming Cleanser (£16). The cleansing device will help those exfoliating acids get even deeper into pores.
6. Charcoal Mask
Activated charcoal is a skincare superstar for congested complexions. It attracts toxins and absorbs up to 200 times its weight in impurities. The activated charcoal paired with sebum-clearing clay in Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask (£14) and the and Face Inc's Carbon Neutral Charcoal Purifying Pod Mask (£5) work magnetically to draw out excess oil, pollutants and other waste materials that get trapped inside pores.
Going the professional route is often best, especially when you’re dealing with super clogged pores. The extraction process, which usually occurs during a facial with an esthetician, involves a pro manually clearing out clogged and compacted pores with a set of simple metal tools. (Painful, yes, but it hurts so good.)
This post was originally published on February 29, 2016, and has since been updated.