Clogged pores are a major cause of Acne and Blackheads (other culprits include bacteria; certain cosmetics; and hormonal triggers). You can partially blame retention hyperkeratosis, which causes dead skin cells to loiter in the pores rather than shedding normally. Retention hyperkeratosis is a hereditary factor, which might help explain why acne tends to run in families. Another factor is excessive sebum production—or rather, too much oil in the skin. Sometimes oil production is ramped up by hormonal changes and sometimes your skin just normally produces a lot of oil all the time. Either way, when excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells in the pores, comedos occur.
Comedos = clogged pores. When clogged pores are closed off from the environment with a seal of skin cells, they can become whiteheads, pimples, or cystic breakouts. Blackheads are the opposite of this—they are clogged pores which are exposed to the air, thus oxidizing the oil/skin cell mixture and causing it to turn a darker color.
Step 1: Double-check your skin care products. Oil-based moisturizers, for example, are a bad choice if you have oily/acne-prone skin. Instead, choose an oil-free moisturizer. The same goes for your makeup products. If you’re using foundation, check out the ingredients. Is your daily foundation oil-free?
Step 2: Start a regular skin care regimen. This includes twice-daily cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Regular care will help normalize oil production in the skin. Also, cleansing regularly can help reduce bacteria on the surface of the skin (the bacterium that causes acne among them), while toning works to target specific skin issues such as excess oil, acne, or sensitivity.
Step 3: Incorporate chemical exfoliants into your regimen. Don’t be afraid of the term chemical, here—we’re just talking about ingredients that naturally dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells, thereby helping to shed more quickly. Glycolic Acid, made from sugar cane, is an alpha hydroxy acid that offers fantastic exfoliation. Salicylic Acid comes from the bark of the willow tree and is a beta hydroxy acid perfect for helping to encourage desquamation (the shedding of skin cells)
Step 4: Reduce oil in the pores. Using oil-absorbing masks and other products can help address the other main cause of clogged pores—excess sebum production. Masks that contain Kaolin Clay help absorb excess oil to help treat and prevent pore clogging.