How to Unclog Pores

How to Unclog Pores

If you are reading this, it’s highly likely that you have some concerns with the pores on your face. Whether you are struggling with blackheads, whiteheads, or just seemingly enlarged pores, we have all the tips and tricks for learning how to unclog pores.

While you can’t change the size of your pores, there are definitely things you can do to unclog pores and keep your skin clean and fresh.


Main Takeaways: The best things you can do to unclog your pores is to cleanse your face twice a day and exfoliate regularly.

Good to Know: It’s best to avoid pore strips, as the adhesive can actually be damaging your skin and remove beneficial oils instead of the unwanted gunk in your pores.

Recommended Products: So Clean! Facial Cleanser, Youth Fairy Retinol Moisturizer, and Prince Charcoal Detox Mask.


Looking for a pore purifying cleanser? We've got just the thing.

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What Are Pores? What Causes Clogged Pores?

First, let’s talk about what pores are. Pores are openings in your skin that allow sweat and oil to get to the surface from the lower layers. This helps to keep your skin cool and hydrated. Pores are absolutely necessary for healthy skin, but clogged pores can lead to dull, uneven looking skin.

You may have been led to believe that you can shrink your pores, thus making them less susceptible to clogging. Sadly, this is far from the truth. Pores size is mostly determined by genetics, and you can’t actually make your pores smaller. However, there are steps you can take to shrink the appearance of pores, including cleansing your face properly and decongesting your pores.

Throughout the day, dirt, oil, makeup, bacteria, and dead skin cells can build up on the surface of your skin, clogging your pores and leading to blackheads, whiteheads, or blemishes. Luckily, there are products that can help you unclog your pores and prevent these issues.

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Best Products for Unclogging Pores

If you find yourself with clogged pores on your face often, you may be wondering how to best address the issue. Most likely, you simply need to switch up the products in your skin care routine or add the proper products to your lineup.

Face Wash

Using a gentle cleanser twice a day in the morning and at night is the first step in unclogging your pores. It’s especially important to cleanse at night and remove the dirt, makeup, and potential pollutants that your skin was exposed to throughout the day. The right cleanser will help unclog pores and keep them from getting clogged in the first place.

So Clean! facial cleanser is a lightweight gel cleanser that gently purifies without stripping your skin. It includes pink grapefruit oil, which helps to decongest pores and adds a lovely citrus scent.

So Clean!

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Bonus Tip: When washing your face, use lukewarm water to lather the cleanser, and then rinse with cool water. The lukewarm water will help to loosen your pores, and the cool water will help to temporarily tighten them back up.


Even if you cleans everyday twice a day, you may need to give your skin a deeper cleanse with an exfoliator 1-3 times per week. Exfoliators help to clear out excess dirt, oil and dead skin from your pores. Just keep in mind that over exfoliating can lead to irritation, so use a separate exfoliator and cleanser.

Illustration of a physical exfoliant

There are two different types of exfoliators: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliators often use granules of natural ingredients like coffee, sugar, or sea salt, to cleanse your pores. Make sure that physical exfoliants are small as overly large granules can make small tears in your skin causing more harm than good.

Chemical exfoliators, on the other hand, use acids like glycolic acid or lactic acid to dissolve dead skin cells, excess oil, and dirt, so there is less risk of irritation. These are more ideal for unclogging pores.


Retinol is known to minimize the look of common signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines, because it encourages cell turnover. This means that the dead skin on the top layer sheds quickly and more efficiently. This also benefits your pores, as it helps keep your pores clear.

Retinol use is best eased into. Because it is a highly active ingredient, retinol can cause irritation and other unwanted side effects if you use a product with a high concentration of retinol. Start by using a gentle retinol moisturizer or retinol serum every other day, allowing your skin to adjust to this powerful antioxidant.

We recommend Youth Fairy retinol moisturizer for beginner retinol users. It is supported by botanicals like plant stem cells and squalane to balance your skin and keep them smooth and clear.

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Detox Mask

A good charcoal mask or clay mask can do wonders for unclogging your pores. Charcoal helps to purify your skin of dirt, oil, and other buildup. Mix that with kaolin clay or bentonite clay, which help to draw out impurities and balance your skin’s natural oils, and those clogged pores on your nose don’t stand a chance.

Prince Charcoal detox mask is a great occasional addition to your skincare routine. Coconut charcoal, licorice root and 30 other active botanical ingredients work together to unclog pores and smooth your skin. This mask also features vegan glycolic acid to gently exfoliate.

Prince Charcoal

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Other Tips for Clogged Pores

Don’t touch your face - Your hands touch everything, and then they reach out and touch your face bringing all that dirt, oil, and bacteria with them leading to clogged pores on your face. You should also not pick at your pores. Picking at your skin can lead to scarring or infection, so let your products do their job and keep your hands off!

Avoid pore strips - As satisfying as it may be when you pull them off, the adhesive can actually be damaging your skin and removing beneficial oils instead of the stuff in your pores. It’s best to avoid these, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Avoid comedogenic ingredients - Comedogenic ingredients are ingredients that are most likely to cause clogged pores. If you consistently have clogged pores or oily skin it’s best to avoid them. Some common comedogenic ingredients in skincare are mineral oil, lanolin, and algae extract.

Talk to your dermatologist - Your dermatologist is the best person to talk to if you have clogged pores and nothing you do seems to help. They can perform a chemical peel, facial, or prescribe proper mediation for you.

Charcoal mask on a hand

Frequently Asked Questions About Unclogging Pores

What do pores do?

Pores are tiny openings in the skin that allow perspiration and sebum (the oil naturally generated by the body) to get to the top layer of the skin. They help keep your skin cool and healthy. Many think that pores open and close, when in fact, that’s impossible. What can be altered, however, is the appearance of pores.

Why do pores get clogged?

Pores get clogged because dirt, oil, makeup, bacteria, and dead skin cells build up on the surface of the skin and essentially get stuck in your pores. This is what causes breakouts and blemishes and sometimes gives the skin a dull appearance.

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Can I make my pores smaller?

Nope. Your pores are what they are. There are things you can do to make them appear smaller, like properly cleansing and exfoliating to remove dirt and oil that could be clogging your pores, but you can’t actually change their size.

Are pore strips safe?

Pore strips won’t kill you, but the adhesive can potentially damage your skin, and they most likely are removing the natural oils that aren’t actually the oils clogging your pores. It’s best to stick with natural cleansers or add an exfoliator to your routine instead.

How to clean clogged pores on nose

The best thing you can do is cleanse twice a day and use an exfoliator 1-3 times a week. Clay masks work best for unclogging pores. Prep your skin by cleansing with lukewarm water before applying a clay mask.