Pore-fect skin Part 2: All about clogged pores

Pore-fect skin Part 2: All about clogged pores

Today we're going to talk about pore blockage - aka congestion or clogged pores. From the causes, to how to get rid of them, to what they actually are - the information online can be confusing and inaccurate at best. We're going to try and set the record straight.

Let's dive into the world of pore blockage – also known as congestion or clogged pores. Navigating through the causes, solutions, and what these pesky pores really are can be like finding a needle in a haystack online - there's a ton of misinformation out there. But don't worry, we're here to clear things up!

You and your pores

Understanding how your pores function and why they sometimes get clogged is essential. Pores are those tiny openings on your skin's surface that play a vital role in its health. They act as pathways for oil (sebum), sweat, and other substances to reach the skin's surface, keeping it hydrated and regulating temperature.

The process kicks off in your skin's sebaceous glands, where sebum – an oily substance – is produced. This sebum travels up through hair follicles and exits through pores onto your skin's surface. Sweat, produced by sweat glands, also joins the party, helping cool your body down and rid it of toxins.

While pores are essential for maintaining healthy skin, they can become clogged with a buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and debris, leading to common skin concerns like blackheads, whiteheads, and acne.


How your pores become clogged - hint... it's not because your skin is dirty

When we talk about clogged pores, the technical term is a comedome, and there are two types - open (which are blackheads) and closed (which are whiteheads).  Since our pores visibly sit on the surface of the skin it makes sense that people think that the pore gets clogged when external factors such as dirt and debris get inside them and clog them up.

Contrary to popular belief, dirt and debris aren't the main culprits. Pore congestion happens beneath the skin's surface, mostly due to a buildup of dead skin cells and sebum.

While maintaining a clean and healthy skincare routine is important, factors beyond hygiene contribute massively to the formation of comedones - hormonal fluctuations, genetic predispositions, and lifestyle habits. In fact excess hygiene (over-cleansing, use of anti-bacterial products etc) can make the problem worse - especially if the skin's sebum production becomes unbalanced.

Is your pore actually clogged?

Ever look closely at your nose in the mirror and wonder what those tiny darker spots are? Generally we think they're blackheads or clogged pores and it's time to reach for the pore strips or get scrubbing - but this may be causing more harm than good.

Blackheads ocour when dead skin cells and sebum block the opening of the pore, causing it to dilate and bring the oil to the surface. Once the oil makes contact with the air it oxidises, causing the darker/ blackish colour. This build up will also often cause inflammation and the pore will be over-dilated.

The thing is - not every darkish pore on your face is a blackhead or open comedome. In fact, most slightly darker spots are just your natural, healthy pores - because all pores contain oil or what we call Sebaceous filaments.

Sebaceous filaments are often misunderstood as blackheads, but they're actually a natural part of the skin's anatomy. These tiny, tube-like structures are found in hair follicles and are lined with sebaceous glands that produce oil (sebum) to keep the skin moisturized. Unlike blackheads, which are a buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria, sebaceous filaments are primarily composed of sebum. While they may appear as small, pin-like dots on the nose, chin, and forehead, sebaceous filaments are typically lighter in color and softer in texture than blackheads.

There's a misconception that these need to be permanently eliminated to keep the pores clear. Your skin needs these to function correctly. By removing these, either through squeezing, aggressive exfoliation methods, pore-strips, or just excessive cleansing - what you're actually doing is disrupting the skin. It can cause dehydration, stimulate excess sebum production, and reduce the pore's elasticity, causing it to become more dilated over time. 

Skincare and your pores

Stop me if you've heard this one before. I used product x the other day. It clogged my pores and gave me breakouts.

We've all had that product that we blame for clogging our pores and causing breakouts and we often see customers swap from product to product to product continually because of this. 

But did you know that it takes weeks for comedones to form? So, that breakout you're experiencing might have been brewing beneath the surface for a while.

Research estimates that a comedome tends to form over a period of 4-6 weeks. This means, when introducing a new product in your routine - it's highly unlikely that the product will suddenly seal off your pores and give you a breakout a few days later. 

Yes, long term use of certain comedogenic ingredients - (oils and compounds in cosmetics) can exacerbate comedones and should be avoided. Especially if you have oily/ combination skin. But often it's not the skincare that is 'clogging the pore' - it's likely that broader, more holistic issues are the actually cause of pore congestion. 

Secondly, allow yourself time to properly test new products/ skincare routines. Any fixes for congested pores are likely to take much longer than you might expect. The body takes time to resolve issues - it's why we always recommend using a new product for 4-6 weeks to best understand how your skin responds to it.

So how do I get rid of Clogged Pores?

Most importantly - understand that we will all get a blackhead or whitehead from time to time. It's a natural side effect of how our skin operates. However - there are steps to minimise the frequency and severity of comedomes. 

  1. Reset your skin first and focus on your skin barrier
    Before you reach for the next new trending active ingredient on TikTok - pause. You want to focus on treating the cause, not the symptom. The starting point should be ensuring your skin barrier is healthy and happy. This means removing everything from your routine for a few days to allow the skin to reset. Take the weekend. Don't use any makeup - just cleanse gently with water and allow your skin to self-regulate for a few days. Then move on to rebuilding your skincare routine from there.
  2. Next step - Regulate your sebum levels
    Remember that comedomes form deeper in the skin as sebum and skin cells build up. Excess sebum production can cause more frequent and severe formation of comedomes (it's also why hormonal fluctuations have a large part to play). Your objective is to limit the skin's over-production of sebum. Again - this starts with the skin barrier - if this is compromised your skin will be prone to dehydration and produce excess oil. Start with a simple routine that encourages balanced and healthy sebum levels - a mix of oil cleansing and humectant serums is ideal (this is a central principle behind the effectiveness of all our routines). 
  3. Finish by routinely helping your skin remove dead skin cells
    Your objective is to help your dead skin cells slough away properly rather than sticking to themselves and causing blockages. Exfoliation is key to this, but you need to be careful with causing excess wear and tear on the skin and further disrupting your skin barrier. We recommend focusing on your new simplified 3-step Goodieco routine for at least a month before introducing exfoliation. Once you're ready to introduce this step - focus on plant based AHAs to gently break down the dead skin cells and/ or a very gently physical exfoliant. You should use no more than twice weekly.

    Our exfoliating line was designed to complement our daily routines to achieve this:
    Unmask; for dry and sensitive skin
    Bright Skin powder; for oily and combination skin
In conclusion, understanding and caring for your pores is essential for achieving clear, healthy skin. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this guide and incorporating Goodieco products into your skincare routine, you can minimize pore concerns, improve skin texture, and achieve a radiant complexion that glows with health and vitality. Remember, skincare is a journey, so be patient and consistent in your efforts. With the right approach and the help of Goodieco products, you can unlock the secrets to flawless, beautiful skin.