5 Skincare Experts Share the Best Products and Tips for Unclogging Pores


In the pixel-perfect digital days of 2019—when every pore seems to be visible in selfie mode—it’s understandable to be concerned or even borderline obsessed with the state of your skin. We know healthy skin comes from a combination of a clean diet, a consistent routine, regular exercise, and good genes, but sometimes all those variables just add to the stress and confusion of an already overflowing beauty cabinet.

Maybe you’re burnt out from work, or perhaps you overdid it with sunshine and salt at this weekend’s poolside barbecue… The good news? We have a solution. Below, we aggregated an all-star panel of skincare experts to share their smarts about all things pores including the tried-and-true ways of giving your face a thorough cleansing, the best products to achieve and maintain radiance, and other tips for glowing, clean skin.

The reality is that if your pores are clogged, you’re in need of a professional facial with extractions. “You should schedule a facial that deep-cleans the pores and cleanses,” says Christine Chin.

Renée Rouleau agrees: “As much as skincare companies want you to believe it, products will NOT remove them. When there’s a blockage of hardened oil that is impacted deep in the pore, it must be gently extracted. Depending on how quickly they come back or how many of them you have, you may need to get this done every two weeks for a while until you can get ahead of them.”

Have a bad habit of falling asleep with your makeup on? Your pores are suffering! “Going to sleep with a clean face is absolutely vital if you want your skin to be healthy and avoid breakouts,” explains Joanna Vargas. “While we sleep, the body repairs the damage that occurred during your day. Stress, pollution, and the sun are just some of the everyday offenders that will prematurely age you, cause breakouts, clog pores, and create dull, lifeless skin,” says Vargas. 

The next time the idea of a nightly cleanse seems like a hassle, remember this wisdom from Vargas: “If you leave makeup on your face at night, there’s no way the body can fix itself the way it needs to. This will lead to clogged pores today, loss of elasticity, and older-looking skin in your future.” That’s some serious motivation for starting and sticking to an evening cleansing routine, no matter what time your head hits the pillow.

If you’re overdue for a facial but prefer for a calming at-home treatment, Tammy Fender recommends turning on the steam, exfoliating, and refreshing with lemon essential oil. “Use gentle steam on your face and then apply an exfoliating mask,” she suggests. “I also find working with pure lemon essential oil can be beneficial—say, anointing the bottoms of the feet with a single drop of the essence, or adding a drop to a bowl of warm water and using it to wet your washcloth,” Fender explains.

“To prevent the pores from becoming clogged again, you’ll want to use an ingredient that can penetrate into the pore lining and keep it clean,” says Rouleau. “Salicylic acid is excellent for this because it’s an oil-soluble, keratolytic beta-hydroxy acid famous for its ability to help clear out impurities,” explains Rouleau.

Rather than reaching for cleansers with salicylic acid, Rouleau recommends topical products you don’t wash off your skin. She suggests using serums (like her BHA Clarifying Serum), acid toners (just wipe them on clogged areas), and masks, noting that even though they’re rinsed off after five to 20 minutes, they can still be effective since they get fully absorbed into the pores.

Keep your skin bright, and your pores clean with consistent resurfacing and exfoliation. “Exfoliating twice a week at home is key,” says Vargas. “I’d recommend a physical exfoliant that uses volcanic rock plus an enzyme—like my Exfoliating Mask—to effectively clear pores.

Made with a trio of balancing and pore-clearing ingredients—willow bark extract, niacinamide, and zinc—Versed Just Breath Clarifying Serum is an editor favorite for fighting congested pores. We especially love the dreamy formula that feels like a cooling water gel as a refreshing way to keep acne at bay.

Chin says this mask packed with zinc and witch hazel makes a huge difference in keeping your pores clean in between professional facial appointments.

We adore this hydrating solution (which feels like a lightweight serum) that helps keep oily skin matte and magically makes pores look smaller.

This ultra-light toner is the perfect splash of pore-protecting ingredients (salicylic acid and copper) to use daily post-cleanse.

Like a smoothie for your skin, this mask does a top-notch job at toning and tightening large pores thanks to a combination of blueberry and blackberry juices.

Lightweight, yet potent and pore-zapping thanks to high-quality salicylic acid, Caudalie’s Pore Minimizing Serum is a must-have when your skin is refusing to behave.

This serum goes to work at night (Rouleau recommends using it three times a week) with a 17% glycolic/salicylic/lactic acid blend that clears pores and also helps with aging, blemishes, and uneven tone.

This moisturizer truly feels like a barely there veil of moisture. The best part? While it hydrates with natural nilotica, it’s also hard at work exfoliating your skin (and pores) with naturally derived hibiscus flower acids.

Fresh’s Umbrian Clay masks is referred to by insiders as “magic clay” because it genuinely is a miracle worker. After just one use of this earth-hued mask (that dries up in a jiffy), your pores will feel tighter and appear visibly cleaner.

“I love using Odacité charcoal cleanser and mask—charcoal pulls 1000 times its weight in toxins.” — Cayli Cavacko Reck

“Epi-Peel is my micro-exfoliating mask and peel with a clay base that draws out impurities so well.” — Tammy Fender

This serum made a difference in my skin in just a few days. After applying nightly and daily, my pores looked less pronounced, the bumps on my forehead received, and my skin felt far less oily throughout the day. 

Seeking more skincare secrets and solutions? Step right this way: 

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