If you’ve read my some of my acne posts, then you know that from a dermatologist’s perspective all acne starts off with a clogged pore. But what do we really mean when we say clogged pores. Literally, clogged pores result when dead skin cells are retained in the pores of your skin rather than being shed into the environment. This creates whiteheads and blackheads. When this happens bacteria on your skin can get very excited, because they love to feed off of the dead skin cells that are clogging your pores. The end result can be inflamed bumps and pustules. For most acne sufferers, there are many things that control this process (to find out more read the Cure Your Acne Once and For All post). However, even if you have perfectly clear skin most of the time, they are certain things you could be doing that may explain your occasionally clogged pores and breakouts.
- Smog – This is location dependent but if you live in a city, you likely suffer the effects of smog on your skin. Unless you’re up for relocating, there isn’t much you can do to prevent this. To combat these environmental toxins, make sure to cleanse with a gentle cleanser twice a day. You can also try applying a weekly mask that contains activated charcoal which can help to draw oil, dirt and other substances from pores.
- Cell Phone – If you are constantly on the phone, you may notice your face is more prone to breakouts in certain areas. If you think about it, cell phones can be pretty gross. They come in contact with multiple surfaces during the day and often end up in the bottom of a purse (along with everything else that is in there). Use hands-free when possible and clean your phone every day.
- Your Hands – Stop touching your face! Yes, you can get rid of the bacteria on your hands with regular hand washing. However, hands have naturally occurring oils which will clog pores. The less you touch your face, the better! And please please don’t pick your acne… this usually just results in more scarring.
- Pillowcase – Wash it once weekly, at least. Your skin may be clean when you go to bed every night, but your face is not the only thing coming into contact with your pillowcase. Some swear by a silk pillowcase to help retain moisture and help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Makeup Brushes – Bacteria can accumulate here, quick! I always suggest a deep clean of makeup brushes every month. Bonus, a clean brush seems to help with makeup application too!
- Athletic gear: Working out regularly is so good for you! If you are into sports where you’re wearing a helmet or other equipment all the time, beware. The constant friction from equipment can make it difficult for your skin to shed dead skin cells properly, resulting in clogged pores. These pieces of equipment can also be a bacteria breeding ground. This can contribute to inflammatory acne. They can also result in staph infections of the skin a condition called impetigo. Make sure the gym equipment in washed regularly, and always wash your face with a gentle cleanser after a tough work out.
- Makeup – This one may seem pretty obvious but it is amazing how many women don’t wash their face before going to bed! A solid evening skincare routine is important. Removing makeup will ensure clear pores and will allow your skin to repair itself.
If your pores are clogged, stick to a gentle cleanser twice daily. Avoid vigorous scrubbing as it can stimulate more sebum production. Exfoliation once per week will help slough off dead surface cells and a product with salicylic acid will help to clear pores (and keep them clear).