What Causes Blocked Pores?

Pores can often appear quite complicated, with lots of different interactions and blockages to learn about. But they're also one of the most important factors in any skincare routine, and understanding how they work can be transformative.

While blocked pores are a fairly common skin complain that can easily be treated, this can change if they are left to build up, causing problems and becoming much more difficult to remove.

The good news is, when using the right product in the right way, unblocking your pores is super easy.

As a formulator of well-regarded skincare products, we get asked about this pretty often, so here is our complete guide.

First, the obvious:

What are Pores?

The central layer of our skin is known as 'the dermis'. This specific layer of skin contains sweat glands, which produce and secrete sweat. This serves multiple functions such as cooling the body during hot weather or exercise and removing excess water and salts from the body.

Whenever you product sweat, it is secreted via your pores onto your skin.

Why Do Pores Get Blocked?

clogged pores

The main issues that lead to blocked pores come from excess oil (known as sebum), over cleansing, low quality products with irritating ingredients, or dead skin cells.

Excess sebum and dead skin cells occur naturally and will build up on the surface of the skin over time. This is fine in itself, but it's necessary to wash your skin regularly to to prevent these from building up and blocking your pores. Failing to do so will lead to more and more blocked pores over time, potentially leading to all manner of skin issues and complaints.

However, over washing and over-exfoliating can be just as much of a problem. Extreme cleansing can strip the skin of it's natural protective oils. This causes an imbalance where your skin tries to fix the issue by producing oil more quickly than usual, causing oily skin and pore blockage.

To keep things in balance, washing needs to be regular but not too regular. Typically a good quality cleansing twice per day will do the trick - once in the morning and once before bed.

Do Blocked Pores Cause Spots?

There is a common belief on the internet that blocked pores grow and expand. This isn't actually true and your pores should stay a consistent size throughout their lifespan. However, blocked pores can be more obviously noticeable and appear larger than usual due to the portion on the surface being filled. This can cause acne and pimples, as well as redness and other problems. Cleansing your skin and pores properly will make them less noticeable and make your skin appear flawless and smooth.

 On the other hand, cleansing too often or with too much pressure can cause issues too. The problem occurs when you remove too much natural oil from the surface of your skin. This causes your body to overcompensate, increasing oil production significantly which can itself block pores.

The key is to cleanse your skin regularly but not too often. How often this may be depends on your own skin and it's unique requirements, however, twice a day - once in the morning and once before bed, is a great starting point that works well for most people.

Do Pores Open and Close or Change Sizes?

Another common misconception is that pores open and close, or change size based on external factors. Actually, pores need to be able to secrete sweat whenever your body requires, so they can never close, and they don't change size either. It's true that a hot, steamy shower can help to loosen them and make them appear larger, which can indirectly make them easier to clean out. It is also true that certain skincare products can help them appear smaller. However, these are aesthetic changes to the naked eye only, and it is the cleansing of pores that should be prioritised.

 Are Blackheads Caused by Blocked Pores?

Blackheads are caused by blocked pores, yes. However, the dark part of a blackhead is not dirt stuck in the pore, as you may be forgiven for assuming. In fact, it is as sign of the inner part of the pore being oxidised. The best solution to prevent and reduce blackheads is to regularly cleanse your pores thoroughly.

Now that we've covered the basics of blocked pores, including what causes them, and the issues they may cause - what are the best ways to unblock pores? 

Let's take a look:

1) Use an Effective Cleanser Daily

Cleansing your face is an obvious must, but using a low quality product may cause more issues than it solves. A gentle cleanser with minimal additional ingredients will be the way to go for most people. If you have particularly oily or dry skin, you will be better off going for one specifically formulated for your specific issue.

Once you've found an effective cleanser that works well for you, use it with cotton pads to scrub your face daily morning and night .

2) Use a Facial Mask Weekly

While face masks won't directly fix the issue for good, they are an effective way to deep clean pores every week, to dissolve impurities, and prevent blemishes and spots from forming. Our Australian pink clay mask is specifically designed for this and uses multiple active ingredients to deep cleanse the pores, removing toxins, pollutants, dirt, bacteria and more from your pores while also strengthening skin cell production and boosting regeneration.

3) Exfoliate regularly

The above two points represent the bare minimum starting points to keep pores clean and unblocked. However, this last point is our #1 recommendation and will take your skincare routine to the next level. It's simply, regular, effective exfoliation. No more than twice a week. 

You should see smoother skin texture and cleaner pores after the first use. The bonus benefit of exfoliation is that it removes dead skin cells, keeping skin smooth and young and making it easier to absorb other skincare products.

Our retinol serum offers all of this and more, promoting cellular turnover, increasing blood flow to the skin's surface, and boosting collagen production.