I’ve never wanted to consider myself to be a terribly vain person. But to hell with it. I’m just as vain as (almost) everyone else. It seems to me it’s only natural to want to look good. Especially when it comes to your face. It is, after all, the first thing people usually notice about you and first impressions are, unfortunately, lasting ones. I, like many people, have large pores. When I’m meeting new people or am faced with a potential employer, the last thing I want is a colony of miniature Jabba the Huts poking their heads out of my pores and waving hello.
Pimples, be they blackheads or whiteheads, are the result of clogged pores. These clogs are generally a cocktail of natural skin oil (sebum), dirt, grime, make up, dead skin, and bacteria. The only difference between a blackhead pimple and a whitehead pimple is that the blackhead has been exposed to air, oxidized, and dried out. Well that, and in my experience, skin pores with blackheads are more difficult to clean out. But whatever, the point of all this is that you want to clear blocked pores before they sprout into pimples and to make your face look cleaner, smoother, and more symmetrical.
- Begin with basics. The very first thing you should concentrate on is working some face washing into your schedule. It is without question the most important thing you can do to clean oily skin and to clear pores. You will want to wash your face twice a day with a gentle face cleanser. Once in the morning and once just before bed. Washing too much can dry out and irritate your skin and cause excess sebum production. After washing, use an alcohol free toner. It’s also a good idea to change your pillow case at least twice a week. There’s no point in transferring the nastiness from your sheets to your nice clean face.
- Use an exfoliant. A simple washing is excellent. However, take things one step further and use a gentle exfoliant. Exfoliants work through the use of either itty bitty bits of abrasives such as crushed apricot pits, crushed almond shell, micro-beads, pumice, etc., or light acids like salicylic, citric, malic, etc. The means are different but the results are the same. Exfoliants remove the dead skin cells from the face that cause a clogged pore. The removal of these dead skin cells will minimize pores and open pores for cleaning. Microdermabrasion is yet another effective exfoliation method that, while it can be done at home, is generally done at salons.
- Clean pores with acne strips. I’m not gonna lie: this is disgusting, but it works. Acne strips are little Band-Aid lookin’ things that are designed to be stuck to your face with a primary focus on cleaning nose pores. After wetting your face and applying the strip, you let it sit for about 15 minutes before tearing it off. When the strip is removed, it takes with it many of the little plugs of nastiness that have been hanging out in your pores. Like a said…gross. Many people go one step further and cut the strips into smaller pieces that will fit different areas of the face. Some people, in an effort to save money, have had similar results using Scotch Tape or by applying Elmer’s Glue to the face, letting it dry, and peeling it off.
- Moisturize your face and your body. Washing your face removes a good portion of your skin’s oils. These oils are your bodies natural facial moisturizers. Without them, you will turn into one giant dried up scale. So, after washing your face, apply an oil free facial moisturizer. Find one that also has an SPF rating of at least 15 such as Olay Complete. Sun light thickens the skin around pores and increases their visibility. Along with your face, it’s very important to keep your body properly hydrated. Drink at least four tall glasses of water a day. This will allow your body to properly regulate the moisture level of your skin, increase healing time, and allow for a healthy amount of sweating. Sweating helps to clean pores.
- Try to avoid make-up. Gentlemen, I realize that for most of you this is not going to be a problem. And ladies, I know it’s not an issue for all of you either. But for those of you who do enjoy the use of make-up. Stop. Or at the very least, cut it back. Make-up clogs pores like there’s no tomorrow. Try to use less of it and use it less often. If you’re just going to the gas station, unless the clerk is hot, there’s probably no reason to apply. Also, if you’re going to use make-up, don’t use old make-up. If what you’ve got is more than a year old, get rid of it. Make-up is notorious for harboring bacteria. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that neither you or your pores want that on you.
- Go into relaxation mode. I know it’s not always the easiest thing to do, but put in the effort, your pores will thank you. High levels of stress can mess with your hormone levels. When hormones are out of whack, it’s not uncommon for faces to explode into fits of sebaceous confetti tossing. It’s nasty. Get plenty of sleep too. It’s been proven that the skin of people who are short on sleep and/or high on stress takes longer to repair itself. Exercise is good too. Not only can it reduce stress levels, but it also makes you sweat, and as we learned before, sweat is good. Sweat cleans pores. Just make sure to wash after sweating…gunk left over from gym isn’t good for the ol’ skin.
Products for Clogged Pores
There are more pore cleaning products available than you can shake a stick at. The trick is finding one that works for you and your skin type. Everybody is different. Just because something works well for one person, doesn’t mean it’s gonna work well for the next. Many people swear by face masks like the Fresh Rose Face Mask or the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. For some people they work great and for some people they dry the hell out of their skin. As far as all ’round facial care goes, Olay products are hugely popular. I personally have stolen them from my fiancè, claimed them as my own, and have had great success with them. While I do not have personal experience with Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear products, I have read numerous reports praising their effectiveness. If you plan to go out and look for something on your own, just make sure to pick a facial cleaner containing either salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acid. These are the golden children of pore cleaners. Whatever you choose to use, don’t expect immediate results. It can take several weeks before you start to notice a difference. Also, if weeks have passed with no discernible change, try something new. You may be surprised.
Natural Pore Cleaners
Deitanseki Soap.This stuff is made with Kaolin Clay, carbon powder and bentonite. It’s not pretty, but the stuff works great for cleaning pores. This face soap usually costs around 12-13 bucks and can be easily found through online stores. The only complaint that I’ve found is that it can be drying, so keep some moisturizer handy. You can order Deitanseki Soap from Amazon.
Blackhead removers/ extractors. No chemicals, no drying out your skin, no fuss. Just a hunk of metal designed to help you remove blackheads. After your face is softened with warm water or steam and you have open pores, press the cup-like tool over the blackhead until it pops out. If it doesn’t come easily, don’t keep trying. Wait a couple days and try again.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). This is a North American shrub from which an astringent can be derived. It’s been used since the beginning of time for a number of things including reducing pore size. Witch hazel can be found as an essential oil or as an added ingredient in a wide variety of facial cleansers.