Pores are essential for our glowing and healthy skin. These small openings allow skin to breathe by evacuating sebum, sweat or dead cells. Skin pores are generally more noticeable on oily areas of the face such a chin and nose. As part of the skin’s natural renewal process, dead skin cells move up to the top layer of skin, while new skin cells are regenerated below. When the skin produces excess oil, these dead skin cells, along with dirt and other debris, can stick to the walls of individual pores and clog them.
Clogged pores are the beginning of acne. When sebum gets “sticky” and stuck in the pores, then it creates a blackhead or whitehead. The pore then dilates or expand to facilitate the elimination of this excess sebum. If it has trouble coming out then it’ll get inflamed and infected as our skin tries to push the clogged sebum plug out. This is when the pimple forms.
So as you can see, we want to prevent clogging as much as we can. Let’s look at what creates clogged pores.
- Excess sebum production (from an internal imbalance).
- Dry skin cells getting stuck in the pores
- Products – cleansers, moisturizers, makeup etc. getting stuck in the pores
Excess sebum production
Sebum is actually a really good thing. It’s part of our skins natural protection barrier and provides us with hydration when our skin is too dry. One of the reasons why as you age your skin gets thinner and dryer is because you begin to produce less sebum. So a healthy production of sebum is actually great for young healthy looking skin!
Oddly enough you can also have excessive sebum production and dry skin. If your skin is out of balance and/or not well nurtured by the right skin care products, then your skin can be producing an excess of sebum but your skin is drying externally from a harsh environment or the wrong skin care. OR if your sebum does not contain a good makeup of linoleic acid then it can be too dry and hard and therefore not hydrated at all and more likely to get stuck. So don’t think that just because your skin is dry you’re not necessarily producing a lot of sebum – that may not be the case.
We’ll be working with our liver and hormones to normalize our sebum production, but we can also help externally with the products we use.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is the best cleanser and moisturiser for your skin. Please don’t be afraid of it being an oil, hemp seed oil is not pore clogging. It has a comedogenic rating of 0 which means it is safe to use on acne prone skin and will not clog your pores. In fact, it will actually help to balance out your excess sebum.
Hemp oil has a composition very close to the natural lipids of the skin. It is therefore particularly suitable for dry, dehydrated or irritated skin because it is extremely nourishing for the skin. This oil also plays an important role in maintaining the skin’s hydrolipidic film and thus helps prevent skin dehydration. Hemp seed oil also has an anti-aging effect and protects the skin from free radicals. It is therefore an excellent anti-aging treatment.
So if you have a lot of comedonal acne (whiteheads and blackheads), the best thing you can do for your skin is to use hemp seed oil and exfoliate 2-3 times a week.
To help with providing our body with the right amounts of linoleic acid in the skin, it is also advised to take good quality hemp seed oil internally as a supplement.
Jojoba oil is another great raw ingredient to use to help prevent clogging of the skin. This oil is technically not an oil, it’s a liquid wax, but has been given the name because of its oil like consistency.
Sebum is composed primarily of gycerides, free fatty acids, wax esters and squalenes. Jojoba oil is composed primarily of wax esters and fatty acids which is why many say that is the oil that most closely resembles human sebum.
Because of this similarity when used as a cleanser and moisturiser it can actually help to reduce sebum production. However, if you have a lot of clogged pores then it can begin the process of purging them out, which can be a bit of a difficult process for some. I have found that jojoba oil is best suited for those that do not have a lot of comedonal acne.
Jojoba oil is naturally anti-bacterial so it can help to prevent new acne from forming. But remember, it is very unlikely for any external treatment to successfully work at curing our skin – it’s important to work internally too.
Dry skin cells getting stuck in the pores
It’s a myth that dry skin is acne free skin. Skin that is too oily and skin that is too dry can suffer from acne. In fact, if you’re acne prone then excessively dry skin is one of the easiest ways to get acne – simply because dry skin can get stuck in your pores and begin the process of the formation of acne as we discussed above.
How do you prevent this? Make sure that your skin is not too dry. Do not use any products that are harsh or drying to the skin, and make sure to use a moisturiser if you need to.
Do not use products that will clog your pores
I cannot stress this to you enough. If you are acne prone then it’s just something that you’re going to be a little more careful with than those who aren’t. But to avoid using the wrong products and accentuating certain imperfections, you need to know the nature of your skin. By intelligently choosing skin care products, moisturize your face without making it greasy and reduce the risk of seeing our pores dilate.
I actually recommend using raw and natural ingredients (and not products) so it’s quite easy to avoid everything that clogs up your skin. All you need to do is learn what raw ingredients and oils can potentially clog the skin.
Remove makeup before exercise
Sweat can be harmful to the quality of your skin. It’s best to remove your makeup before your workout because makeup can trap sweat and get lodged in your pores, resulting in blackheads. If you don’t have the time, use as little makeup as possible and opt for “athleisure” makeup, developed for your workout and non-comedogenic. In any case, remove your makeup and cleanse your face after your workout.
Avoid touching your face
Touching your face constantly can spread the acne-triggering bacteria. Every day, we touch a lot of germ-carrying objects: money, doorknobs, ramps, keys, and the list goes on. When you touch your face, you’re not only depositing these bacteria, but also viruses, greasy substances and allergens that can clog your pores. The best way to combat this bad habit is to constantly sanitize your hands. So ask your friends to tell you when you touch your face so you can become aware of this habit and try to get rid of it.
Use sun protection creams
Protect your skin when you go out in the sun because UVA and UVB rays damage elastin and collagen fibers, causing pores to dilate. In addition, the sun thickens the epidermis and stimulates the sebaceous glands which produce excess sebum. Under the sun, protect your dilated pores and your skin with a sunscreens.
How to know what will clog your pores
Lucky for us plenty of studies have been done on the comedogenicity of raw ingredients. “Comedogenicity” means how likely it is to clog our pores. Raw ingredients are given a rating from 0-5, with 0 being no chance at all that it will clog our pores and 5 being very likely.
For acne prone skin it’s better to stick with ingredients that have a rating of 0-2. The most common natural skin care mistakes I’ve seen with acne prone skin is the use of coconut oil which has a rating of 4 so has a good chance of clogging the pores and creating acne. I personally learned this one the hard way before I knew any better.
We don’t recommend the use of products but if you absolutely must, then you can check each ingredient on the label. If there are many ingredients then you can check just the first eight.
Here are some list of comedogenic ingredients for you to check:
What We Recommend
We recommends using either hemp or jojoba oils to both cleanse and moisturise the skin. Both raw oils help to balance out the skins natural oil production resulting in a normalisation of the skin – that is skin that is neither too oily or too dry. If you’ve ever felt that you have combination skin then you’re likely just using the wrong products. Switch back to being gentle on your skin and protecting your skins natural acid mantle and it’s likely that your skin will over time become “normal” (not oily and dry in patches).
Both hemp and jojoba oils are easy to use. Simply use them in place of your usual cleanser. If your skin is feeling tight or dry after you’ve washed and towel dried, then use a few drops as a moisturiser too.
Hemp oil is recommend if you have a lot of comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads), while jojoba oil is recommended if you cannot get hemp oil into your country or are traveling so cannot keep an oil refrigerated (jojoba oil does not need to be refrigerated).