Top 5 Steps to Unclog Your Pores & Refine Your Skin

Top 5 Steps to Unclog Your Pores & Refine Your Skin

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Can you imagine HD perfect skin in your T-zone and cheeks?

If you look in the mirror and see large and visible pores now, this image seems like a dream that’s almost impossible to achieve.


What if I told you that by incorporating pore-refining techniques in your daily skincare, this can be your reality?

However, this solution isn’t a one-off fairy dust that will permanently clear your pores and shrink them overnight.

It’s adopting to a daily skincare routine that is scientifically proven to unclog pores and keep blackheads and whiteheads at bay.

It involves having the right products suited for your skin, learning how to use them properly, and sticking to this regime faithfully.

This article will help you understand what causes large pores, what makes them clog, what we can do to unclog them, as well as preventive measures to avoid skin congestion.

Read on and hopefully by the end of this post you’ll have found what you needed to keep your pores clear day in and day out.

Disclosure: We independently research, test, and only recommend materials that we truly feel will deliver value to you. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

Pore sizes differ depending on an individuals skin condition, age, hormones, and heredity. However, in all circumstances, unclogging is crucial to minimizing pores.

If you’re suffering from large or dilated pores, doing quick fixes like masks or blackhead extractions are a good start. However, these are temporary solutions to a long term skin issue.

Your large pores would only get worse as you age because our skin naturally loses its elasticity and ability to tighten pores. There will come a time when none of these quick fixes will work and you’re left with sagging skin and enlarged pores.

If you have large pores, your goal should be to incorporate products in your daily and weekly skin regimen that will prevent the causes of large facial pores and tighten the skin afterwards. Doing so will condition your pores and make it smaller, resulting in a smoother and healthier complexion.

What causes large pores?

  • TYPE 1 – Pores are openings of a hair follicle where sweat and sebum collect. The most common cause of large pores is the accumulation of sebum and other impurities in these openings. When the pore is congested with excess oil, dead skin, and dirt; they clog the opening and make it appear larger. This is mostly associated with oily and acne-prone skin with noticeable comedones like blackheads and whiteheads.
  • TYPE 2 – The other cause is the collapse or weakening of the pore walls due to the loss of skin elasticity. The results are sagging pores that the skin is unable to tighten on its own. This is associated with aging, acne scarring, hormonal imbalance, and sun damage.
  • Additional factors that can exacerbate large pores is chronic acne, hormones, poor skin regimen and lifestyle.
L-R: Normal pores, blackheads, sagging pores, enlarged pores, whiteheads, acne scars i.e. ice pick scars.
L-R: Normal pores, blackheads, sagging pores, enlarged pores, whiteheads, acne scars i.e. ice pick scars.

How to permanently minimize the appearance of pores

  • Prevent excess oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities from blocking your pores on a regular basis. This is applicable to TYPE 1 and 2 causes, and can be done by incorporating exfoliation in your skincare regimen. There are two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical. You can do one or both, depending on your skin type, age, and sensitivity.
  • If the cause is TYPE 1, an excess of sebum or oil, an additional step can be regulating or inhibiting oil production through mattifying or oil control products.
  • If the cause is TYPE 2, enlarged pores is due to sagging or aging skin, boost skin elasticity through antioxidants, collagen synthesis, and other cell renewal actives. Retinol is one the most effective ingredients for changing the way your gland produces oil. This will visibly tighten address dilated and collapsed pores.

We’ve compiled the best products for unclogging and minimizing pores to help you optimize your skincare regimen. Choose products according to your skin type and needs.

How to Unclog Pores

How to Unclog Pores

A. Unclog pores through regular exfoliation

One of the keys to minimizing pores is to not only constantly remove the buildup of impurities on your skin, but to avoid them reoccurring as much as possible.

If you have large pores, particularly if you also have combination or oily skin, exfoliation should be an essential part of your daily skincare routine. Dead skin cells and excess oil collect at a rapid pace inside your pores, overloading them to capacity and making it look larger than it should be. Cleaning them thoroughly on a daily basis prevents accumulation of dirt, dead skin cells, sebum, and excess oil. This also reduces your chances of getting blackheads, whiteheads, and acne.

Blackheads are a key focus, not only in minimizing pores but in acne prevention as well. Blackheads occur in the first stage of acne–you get this blocked pore which can then get infected as it goes along, and then you get the redness and the larger spots later on. Prevention is key!

There are two types of exfoliation: mechanical or physical exfoliation, and chemical exfoliation.

Mechanical or Physical exfoliation

Mechanical or Physical exfoliation

Your skin produces sebum and dead skin cell, as well as collect dirt on a daily basis.

Physical exfoliation does a great job in making sure that these impurities are removed thoroughly, especially those beyond the reach of your basic cleanser.

This involves the use of facial scrubs, power brushes, and microdermabrasion devices that we know of. This method instantly reveals clear and fresh new skin.

The downside of this is its process, which can be too abrasive for some and can run a risk of skin irritation. If you have sensitive skin, make sure to use a gentle and anti-inflammatory scrub. If you have oily or combination skin, use a power brush with cleansers aimed for oily skin.

If you also have inflamed acne, physical exfoliation can spread the bacteria (gross, I know). So skip this step if you have active acne lesions.

This will also not be very effective on hard or plugged blackheads. Those kinds of clogged pores would need keratolytics like benzoyl peroxide to soften and release them.

If you have oily and resilient i.e. not sensitive skin with blackheads and whiteheads; we recommend doing both physical and chemical exfoliation.

Best for: combination and oily skin with noticeable blackheads and whiteheads, but without inflamed acne, i.e. cysts

Chemical exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation

Uses AHA and BHA to gradually exfoliate the top layer of the skin. AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acid is water soluble and works to dissolve the upper layer of the skin to get rid of dead skin and dirt. The most common AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and various fruit acids. It functions the same way as physical exfoliation without the devices. Although there’s really nothing like physically sloughing away impurities, if you’re not keen on using mechanical scrubs, this is a great alternative. AHA also promotes cell turnover and renewal, which helps keep your complexion young and healthy. These type of products work well for all skin types. Best for: All skin types. You just need to be aware of your skin sensitivity when choosing the right product. If you’re just starting to incorporate acids in your skincare routine, start from the lowest concentration and work your way up.
BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid is oil soluble, meaning unlike AHAs, it has the ability to go down into the skin to unclog blocked pores and flush out excess oil. These are keratolytics, which means they loosen any firm plugs like whiteheads and blackheads and makes the pore release its content. This makes BHA based products are especially useful for oily and acne-prone skin. The downside of using acid-based products is the increased skin sensitivity. You will need to actively use non-comedogenic sunscreen with high SPF and UV protection on a daily basis. If you have sensitive skin, you will need anti-inflammatory products in our daily regimen as well. Best for: Acne-prone, oily, and combination skin. We recommend using AHAs and BHAs in your skincare routine one after the other, with a 20-minute interval if possible for maximum absorption. For an in-depth guide and to know which kind is better for you, refer to The Best At Home Chemical Peels – The Ultimate Guide.
Use a clay-based or charcoal-based masks to instantly unclog pores

B. Use a clay-based or charcoal-based masks to instantly unclog pores

One of the easiest and quickest ways to decompress the pore is to draw the impurities out naturally. Clay-based masks are like magnets that absorb deep-seated oils and contracts the skin as it dries out.

Use them twice a week to dislodge deep-seated oils. Make sure to moisturize well right after to avoid dehydrating your skin.

Manual extraction for deep-seated sebum & tough comedones

C. Manual extraction for deep-seated sebum & tough comedones

Honestly, once you’ve incorporated physical mechanical and chemical exfoliation in your regime, you would hardly need to do manual extractions. However, there are instances when it does call for it like deeply seated sebum, tough blackheads, bad skin days, or if you have excessively oily skin because of hormonal imbalance, etc.

Below are our selection of tools you can use and keep in your arsenal for emergency fixes.

If you have oily skin, inhibit your skin’s oil production during the day

D. If you have oily skin, inhibit your skin’s oil production during the day

Excess sebum secretion is one of the leading factors in dilated pores. Inhibiting oil production throughout the day is the first step in preventing clogged pores from coming back.

Making sure that the skin is well-hydrated is essential as well in keeping your skin shine-free and your pores healthy and tight.

Sun damage is the no. 1 cause of skin aging, which will be (if it’s not already) a factor in your enlarged pores.

Using a light, non-comedogenic, and mattifying moisturizer-sunscreen on a daily basis is both a corrective and preventive measure against large and clogged pores.

If you have oily and acne-prone skin and find that most sunscreens and moisturizers break you out, it’s likely that you’re using the wrong kind.

Light products like thin creams and gel-types are easily absorbed by the skin and would not feel heavy. It should sink in after 10-15 minutes of application and not feel like it’s just sitting on top of your skin. (If you have products that feel like this, your skin type may be incompatible with it.)

The right type of moisturizer or sunscreen can drastically improve the texture of your skin, keep your pores in shape, and control oiliness.

For those with oily skin, I know it feels scary to put on sunscreens but the right type of sunscreen WILL NOT break you out at all or cause problems.

Once the mattifying effect kicks in, it will not only control oil but also diffuse the light that hits your skin and make your pores appear smoother to the naked eye. A win-win!

Use this before any non comedogenic primers for large pores and any makeup.

Nourish your skin during the night to tighten your pores

E. Nourish your skin during the night to tighten your pores

PM – Incorporate retinols in your nighttime skincare routine

Not only does this key ingredient tackle blackheads, pores, and acne; but is also one of the forefront in anti-aging. It absolutely changes the way your skin changes and clears out your pores.

In terms of maintaining pore size, having enough collagen and skin elasticity keep your pores taut and upright is extremely important. If your skin has lost its firmness, the pore would be saggy and very much prone to traffic through oil and sebum.

If you start using this in your 20’s, you can slow down your skin’s aging and keep your pores refined well into your 30’s and 40’s.

The Oily Skin Solution

by Patricia Everson

This acclaimed skincare program aims to condition the skin to generate less oil, providing a permanent solution to excessive oily skin. Highly recommended.
  • Katsuta, Y., Iida, T., Inomata, S., & Yoshida, S. (2004). Improving the appearance of facial pores. Cosmetics and toiletries, 119(10), 59-64.
  • Kim, B. Y., Choi, J. W., Park, K. C., & Youn, S. W. (2013). Sebum, acne, skin elasticity, and gender difference–which is the major influencing factor for facial pores?. Skin Research and Technology, 19(1), e45-e53.
  • Kim, S., Shin, M., Back, J. and Koh, J. (2014). Pore volume is most highly correlated with the visual assessment of skin pores. Skin Research and Technology, 20(4), pp.429-434.
  • Lee, S. J., Seok, J., Jeong, S. Y., Park, K. Y., Li, K., & Seo, S. J. (2016). Facial pores: definition, causes, and treatment options. Dermatologic Surgery, 42(3), 277-285.
  • Uhoda, E., Piérard-Franchimont, C., Petit, L. and Piérard, G. (2005). The Conundrum of Skin Pores in Dermocosmetology. Dermatology, 210(1), pp.3-7.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Michelle Evans
Michelle Evans
Michelle Evans is passionate about everything beauty and skincare. She is excited to continue her education and go on that journey with the readers of HealthyBeautiful. “Knowledge is a gift and you have the opportunity to educate and empower with it.” She believes that everyone should be able to look and feel their best.