Pores can become clogged with excess oil, dead skin, or dirt, or they can appear more prominent as a result of too much sun exposure. Other factors that can influence pores becoming clogged include genetics and hormones.
No, You Can't "Unclog" Your Pores.
Baking soda does little to remove the material that clogs your pores and lead to blackheads. Oftentimes, we forget what blackheads are made of: dead skin and sebum (oil). You can find a more appropriate treatment method by keeping these components in mind.
Nazarian recommends exfoliating with topical medications, such as glycolic acid, retinoids, and salicylic acid, to break down the plugs and dissolve them.
Salicylic acid works to treat acne by unclogging blocked pores. It does this by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells so that they can release from the pore more easily, and breaking down oils, such as sebum. Salicylic acid also decreases the skin's sebum production, leading to fewer breakouts.
If you have blackheads and whiteheads, salicylic acid alone should work well to clear out your pores. If your acne tends to be inflammatory, such as papules and pustules, opt for benzoyl peroxide to stop outbreaks at the source. For sensitive skin, start with salicylic acid, since it's less likely to cause irritation.
extreme stress. poor skin care habits (such as not washing your face twice a day, or wearing oil-based makeup) dry skin (ironically, having dry skin can make pores more noticeable due to an increase in sebum production and accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin)
The technical term for an acne seed is a microcomedone. A microcomedone is a cluster of mostly dead skin cells that might be mixed with oil and comedogenic ingredients from pore-clogging products. It's called a micro-comedone because when it first forms, it is microscopic so it's invisible to the naked eye.
Don't: Squeeze them.
You might see a gnarly-looking plug in the mirror, your fingers practically itching to pop and squeeze the blemish—don't. "Squeezing can traumatize the skin, introduce bacteria, and damage the pore, which can spread debris and bacteria deeper into the tissue," King notes.
The white stuff that comes out of your pores like thin strings when you squeeze your nose is called a sebaceous filament. It's mostly made up of sebum (oil that your skin produces) and dead skin cells. This substance typically collects in pores around your nose and chin.
According to a 2016 study , the main causes of enlarged pores are: Excessive sebum: This is when a person's sebaceous gland produces a lot of oil, leading to oily skin. Decreased elasticity around the pore: This is when the skin becomes less supple.
Pimple pus is made from sebum (oil) that gets trapped in your pores, along with a combination of dead skin cells, debris (such as makeup), and bacteria. When you have inflammatory acne lesions (such as pustules, papules, nodules, and cysts), your immune system activates in this area, resulting in noticeable pus.
Each follicle contains one hair and a sebaceous gland that produces oil. This oil, called sebum, helps keep your skin soft. Dead skin cells and oils collect in the opening to the skin follicle, producing a bump called a comedo. If the skin over the bump stays closed, the bump is called a whitehead.
Eventually, the follicle should open enough to release the pus on its own, without you having to push or squeeze. “When you push that pus you compress it and it explodes, which leads to more swelling in your face,” says Finkelstein. When you use a warm compress, “it usually comes out by itself.”
With that said, if you stick with a gentle exfoliating skincare routine, avoid ingredients that are known to clog pores (like too-thick creams and coconut oil), and keep your fingers off your face, you're likely to see an improvement in the appearance of your clogged pores within a few weeks.
Salicylic acid penetrates into your skin and works to dissolve the dead skin cells clogging your pores. It can take several weeks of use for you to see its full effect. Check with your dermatologist if you aren't seeing results after 6 weeks.
Time to turn attention to the other option you mentioned: benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide works in two ways: it kills the bacteria that help cause acne, and it has a drying effect that makes it easier to wash away excess oils and dirt. As it does help unclog pores, it might be what you're looking for!
While benzoyl peroxide can help treat oil and dead skill cells that clog your pores, this may not be the best treatment option available for blackheads and whiteheads. While benzoyl peroxide does help treat certain types of acne, topical retinoids are considered the first line of treatment.