Written by Grove Collaborative

How to safely & naturally clean & unclog pores.

Last Updated: July 9, 2021

Take a look at your face in a mirror. Those small "holes" in your skin are your pores, and we're here to help you ensure they are clean and clear.

Pores are tiny openings that allow skin to absorb or express oil and sweat. When pores get clogged, this natural process can’t happen because the openings are blocked.


Consider us the plumbers of pores. Thanks to Grove's health and beauty experts, we have the tools, information, and tips to help you keep your pores safely cleaned and unclogged.

What are clogged pores?

With all the stuff we purposefully put on our faces, combined with pollution, pizza grease, occasional dog saliva, and the like, our pores can be vulnerable little land mines, filling up with dead skin cells and debris.


Instead of shedding off your skin and face, clogged pores happen when those dead skin cells get stuck in your pores, blocking the openings on your face and body.

What are some signs of clogged pores?

Here are some things to look for as you examine your face in a mirror:


  • You notice you have enlarged pores.
  • Your pores and skin overall look darker and duller.
  • You notice little black dots (aka blackheads) on your skin.
  • You might see pimples and whiteheads.

What causes clogged pores?

Additional causes besides those listed above can contribute to clogged pores.


Here's a more expansive list of most-wanted offenders when it comes to the face.


  • Dead skin cells: Cell turnover is unavoidable, but dead skin cells can build up if not properly washed away.
  • Skin's natural sebum (oil): We all have oil in our skin, but some folks' epidermis has excess oil.
  • Environmental toxins: We face these every day in air pollution.
  • Comedogenic products: This refers to lotion, makeup, exfoliators, cleansers, and sunscreen—all the stuff we apply to our skin.
  • The nature of our skin: Things like sweat, aging, and even ethnicity are related to pore size, which can affect their tendency to get clogged.

See more on causes and conditions here.


5 methods to unclog pores

We at Grove prefer the prevention route when it comes to sparkly clean skin. Here are some effective and natural treatments for clogged pores:

Pore strips:

Though not the sexiest thing to wear to bed, some people swear by these adhesive strips that seem to pull the nasty off of noses overnight.

Facial masks, especially charcoal:

Activated charcoal can be a great but very strong cleansing ingredient. Experts recommend using a charcoal mask no more than once a week.


Learn more about powder clay facial masks and how to use them through this real Grove writer review.

Steam:

Gently steaming the skin can open up pores, allowing a professional to apply treatments or you to gently exfoliate or treat your clogged pores.


This is often part of a professional facial, but you can easily steam your face at home as well.

Extraction:

When it comes to pimples, extraction can sometimes be known as “popping.” But for pores, there are actually gentle suction tools that can vacuum up blackheads and debris causing clogged pores.


Different suction settings allow you to target differently clogged pores so you don’t have to be too harsh on areas of your skin that don’t need it.

Exfoliation:

Gently sloughing off dead skin cells and extra oil is a great step in your skincare routine.


Just be careful not to overdo it. Stripping your skin can actually cause it to overproduce sebum, exacerbating clogged pores. A good exfoliation only needs to happen once or twice a week.

Shop pore masks and exfoliators at Grove

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Pore cleaning methods to avoid

Note that experts have recommended you avoid the following methods:

Baking soda

Touted for all sorts of miracle DIY methods, baking soda is great but too alkaline for your face, which will throw off your skin's pH (moisture balance) levels.

Lemons

Another go-to for DIY recipes, straight lemon juice is too acidic for your skin and can strip and irritate it.

How to prevent clogged pores

Ah, our favorite topic: Prevention.


Here are our top ways to keep your pores in check and prevent them from getting clogged in the first place. We've also included some of our fave Grove items to add to your arsenal.

What are the best facial products for clogged pores?

You'll find many products geared specifically toward cleaning, tightening, or minimizing pores. Here are a few of our favorites:

Cleanser

Alba Botanica Facial Cleanser


This cleanser is super targeted at unclogging pores, with pineapple and papaya to cleanse, brighten, and refine them.

Acure Resurfacing Glycolic & Unicorn Root Cleanser


This cream-to-foam cleaner works its magic using a special blend of amethyst, glycolic, lactic, and true unicorn root. Glycolic acid is almost like a superpower when it comes to fighting clogged pores as it naturally exfoliates dead skin cells off your face and out of your pores, leaving it clean and fresh.

Toners

Andalou Naturals Toner


With willow bark, aloe, essential oils, and more, this purified toner tightens pores without stripping your skin.

Lavido Purifying Facial Toner


This toner is formulated with plant-based hydrosol water and organic Propolis extract, which tames oily skin and clogged pores.

Shop these cleansers & toners

Exfoliation

Gently sloughing off dead skin cells is key to helping pores stay unclogged. Although you don't need to overdo it, which could result in stripping your skin and possibly exacerbating oil production, a good natural exfoliator can be used daily if needed and weekly at a minimum. Try one of these:

Rooted Beauty Purifying Detox Scrub

With walnut shell powder and Rooted Beauty's signature R7 root-nutrient complex, this gentle exfoliator is like a hangover cure for your face.

Alba Botanica Acnedote Scrub

Featuring salicylic acid and ground walnuts, this scrub is the real deal for blasting off surface debris from skin.

Beauty by Earth Facial Scrub

Containing essences of fruit, chlorophyll, and essential oils, this facial scrub is gentle enough to use two to three times per week for effective exfoliation.

Burt's Bees Pore Scrub

This new product is a go-to for a little extra exfoliation in a gentle cleanser. Featured ingredients are willow bark and peach stone.

Shop these pore-exfoliating scrubs

Treatments

Whether by a professional or your own skilled hand, your face deserves some special care if it's plagued by clogged pores. Consider a few specific treatments as alms for the pore.

Osea Blemish Balm

Tea tree, juniper, and thyme oils help this moisturizer restore skin's balance, helping minimize shine and promote radiance.

Yes To Glow-Boosting Acid Pads

A stronger exfoliator, thanks to alpha hydroxy and other acids, these pads can be used once per week for an extra weapon against clogged pores.

Lavido Deep Detox Clay Mask

Clinically proven to reduce facial sebum by 24% in a month, this super clarifying mask is a favorite to banish breakouts.

Shop these pore masks & treatments

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