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How to Fight Congestion and Unclog Your Pores Once Forever

How to treat clogged pores? Read on to find out!

Everybody wants to know how to get rid of clogged pores, as these foes lead to blackheads and pimples and then post-acne marks — no, thanks. Plus, when pores are congested, they appear larger, another common concern of many (myself included), leading to a dull, uncared-for look. So, we decided to break down everything there is to know, from how to clean clogged pores to the causes and signs of clogged pores, and finally, how to prevent pores from becoming congested in the first place. Let’s start with the beginning. 

What are clogged pores?

Clogged pores are blocked pores by a mix of gunk, sebum, bacteria, and dead cells. When pores are clogged, it leads to pimples and blackheads and makes the pores appear up to three times bigger than they are, giving a dull appearance, far away from the glow you want.

What causes clogged pores?

A few things can lead to clogged pores, but among all, sebum is the biggest culprit. This is why clogged pores is often a condition that happens to oily skin folks. When there’s too much sebum produced by the sebaceous glands, the excess oil can get trapped in the pores, blocking them and ultimately leading to congestion. Other causes of clogged pores include toxins from the environment, not exfoliating enough, sweat, age, hormones, and genetics.

Signs your pores are clogged

The signs of clogged pores are large, bumpy pores, whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and a dull look. Yep, this means that you can tell your pores are clogged whenever your skin breaks out.

How to get rid of clogged pores

Whatever has caused your congestion, there’s an array of ways to unclog your pores and promote a clear and radiant complexion. That said, the most effective treatment for clogged pores is regularly exfoliating dead cells buildup, debris, and excess sebum using one of these exfoliators for clogged pores and congested skin. Once or twice a week will do. These usually include salicylic and glycolic acids, as the first penetrates deep into the clogged follicles where bacteria lurks, working to regulate sebum and clear the junk trapped in pores, while the latter exfoliates the skin’s surface to slough off the buildup of the dead cells and debris.

You can also include salicylic acid in your daily routine by using a salicylic acid serum or salicylic acid toner. This way, you don’t let sebum and dead cells buildup on the surface, while the weekly exfoliation removes the leftovers and any sign of congestion. 

Another thing you can do to unclog pores is to use a detoxifying face mask for clogged pores with clay or charcoal — as both have oil-absorbing properties. These masks act as a magnet to draw out pore-cloggers and impurities, clearing congestion and boosting radiance.

One more tried-and-true ingredient great for unclogging pores is retinol. With its ability to encourage cell turnover and shed away dead skin, retinol decongests pores, diminishing their appearance and minimizing chances of breakouts. For the best results, use your salicylic acid product in the morning and the retinol serum at night, before you hit the hay. Finally, the last ingredient that shouldn’t miss from your routine is niacinamide. It’s gentle and can be used daily, doing great at refining pores and shrinking their appearance. For the record, niacinamide and salicylic acid together make a winning team for battling clogged pores.

Steam is amazing for unclogging pores too. It opens pores and helps loosen dirt that’s blocked inside, softening blackheads and making them easier to clear. Also, steaming is key to removing dead cells, excess oil, bacteria, and junk that blocks pores, leaving you with oxygenated and relaxed skin.

How to prevent clogged pores

As with anything, prevention is better than treating, so perhaps you want to know the catch: how to prevent clogged pores? Is that even possible?

Obviously, there are ways to stop pores from becoming congested, and here are the most important steps:

  • Stick to a diligent skincare routine
  • Use non-comedogenic products
  • Cleanse and moisturize your skin regularly
  • Exfoliate 
  • Remove makeup at the end of the day
  • Avoid touching your face

Skincare routine for clogged pores


  1. Use a gentle cleanser
  2. Layer your toner for clogged pores 
  3. Apply salicylic acid serum 
  4. Moisturize with a non-comedogenic formula
  5. Use mineral SPF


  1. Cleanse makeup, sunscreen, and impurities
  2. Use toner
  3. Apply retinol
  4. Slather a lightweight gel-like moisturizer


  1. Apply a detoxifying face mask with charcoal
  2. Exfoliate
Who wrote this?
Picture of Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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