The Right Way to Clean Out Your Pores

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No matter how good your skincare routine, at some point you’re going to have some clogged pores. Clogged pores are pores that are blocked from a compilation of dead skin cells, oil, moisturizer, and/or cosmetics, and they’re sometimes just going to happen if you’re a human in the world. For anyone unsure of what clogged pores look like, they’re those little black dots you sometimes see around your nose and chin, and above your eyebrows.

If you’ve ever messed with a Bioré strip, you know how satisfying it can be to clean clogged pores out. But simply washing your face and applying a strip is not terribly effective, because you haven’t removed dead skin that is blocking the pores, or opened the pores up to make it easier to get into them. The same goes for squeezing your pores - not only is it usually useless, but it can actually lead to infections and scarring. We’re here to tell you how to take that pore cleaning to the next level, and how to do it safely, so as not to damage your delicate facial skin. (A brief disclaimer before we move forward: if you’re dealing with chronic, painful acne, your best bet is to see a dermatologist, who can help you to figure out a long term, comprehensive treatment. The below steps are to treat mild pore-buildup in the form of blackheads).

Step One: Clean Your Face

First things first, this pore deep clean should be done on top of a regular, daily face washing routine. These next, deep-pore-cleansing steps are a once a week kind of thing, because they're too intense, and also unnecessary, to do more frequently. For this once a week treatment, start with a clean, makeup, moisturizer, and serum free face.

Step Two: Exfoliate

The next step is to exfoliate to remove any dead skin cells that are blocking your pores. You can either use a scrub or an exfoliating face mask. I am extremely partial to the Alder New York Clarifying Face Mask, because it has the dual benefits of exfoliation through its unique blend of clays, and oil and dirt extraction through activated charcoal, which works to get at whatever is beneath those clogged pores at the same time.

Step Three: Bring On The Heat

Next, bring on some heat. Once you’ve exfoliated, either use a warm washcloth pressed gently against your face, or pour some boiling water into a bowl, drape a towel around your shoulders, and hover you head above the bowl, using the towel as a tent to steam your face. If you want to make the whole thing even more treat-yo’self, put a drop or two of essential oils in the bowl to add a spa-like touch. Do this step for around five minutes, to allow the steam to open up your pores.

Step Four: Get Into Your Pores

Now, finally, it’s time to get at what's beneath those pores. If you’re a strip kind of person, stick that baby on- you’ll find it works a lot better now that you’ve opened up your pores. As for you pore squeezers (and I fully admit I am one)- this is not your chance to start going at it. If you truly can’t help but get in there, you’re best bet is to use a comedone extractor - they’re the same little tools you will find at the dermatologist, and they cost less than ten bucks at your local drugstore. However, dermatologists really frown upon home-use, as misuse can lead to broken capillaries, infected pores, and even permanent facial scarring. If you’re going to do it no matter what, make sure to read up on using it the right way. (I’ll sum it up in two words: be gentle).

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