Clogged, blocked, congested. They all mean the same thing when it comes to our skin, or more specifically, our pores. Pores that become clogged, blocked or congested will all have the same fate too - spots and acne breakouts.
So the better we are at keeping our pores unblocked, the clearer our skin will be - in theory. But, not all skin conforms, and we know that first hand.
Here’s our lowdown on congested pores, how to prevent them and how to treat them…
What is a Congested Pore?
Perhaps a better question is, what is skin congestion? The answer to both is the same, and it’s all down to a substance called sebum.
Sebum is the oily, wax-like substance that’s produced naturally by the skin. Each pore contains a hair follicle and a sebaceous gland, and it’s the job of the sebaceous glands to produce sebum. The pores then bring this sebum to the surface of the skin where it can do its job.
The skin needs sebum to keep it well moisturised and also protected from the environment. If we produce too little sebum, we have dry skin, too much and we have oily skin.
If we have oily skin, or we don’t regularly cleanse away excess sebum, then this sebum can build up on the skin, eventually filling the pores. This then traps dirt, makeup, bacteria and dead skin cells inside the pores leading to, you’ve guessed it, congested pores. On a larger scale, this then also leads to skin congestion.
Blocked pores and skin congestion can at best cause dull looking skin, and at worse, lead to inflamed, angry red skin and acne.
What Are the Causes of Congested Skin?
Congested skin is caused by a combination of several factors including:
- Excessive sebum production - Pores become clogged when the sebaceous glands in the skin produce too much sebum. The excessive amount of oil clogs the pores causing congested skin.
- Dead skin cells – our skin regenerates itself every 27 days, resulting in the formation of layers of dead cells on the skin. If not removed regularly, the build-up of dead skin cells can clog the pores causing congested skin.
- Make-up and skin care products – most skin care products contain ingredients such as petrochemicals, talc, parabens and silicones that clog pores. Using very old makeup (contaminated with bacteria) can also cause skin congestion. Liquid foundation, regardless of its age, can also cause skin congestion, which is why we always recommend a powder, mineral based one instead.
- Accumulated toxins – our blood transports nutrients as well as toxic substances to the skin cells for elimination through sweat. If the skin doesn’t eliminate the toxins properly, it can lead to skin congestion and other skin infections. Eating a highly acidic diet full of animal protein, meat and dairy can lead to this toxin build up.
Other factors that cause congested skin include dehydrated skin, allergic reactions, excessive sweating and eating a high-sugar diet.
What Are the Signs of Congested Skin?
Run your hands gently across your face. Do you feel nothing but smoothness? Or do you feel areas of small lumps and bumps? If the latter, then this is a sign of congested skin.
Uneven skin that has visible blackheads and whiteheads, especially around the T zone, is another sign of congested skin.
How to Treat Congested Skin
There are several different congested skin treatments. However, if you’re unsure about what method to use, consult with your dermatologist.
Here’s some tips on how to clear congested skin and some whitehead and blackhead treatment advice:
The best way to treat congested skin is to exfoliate regularly (at least twice a week). Exfoliating removes dead skin cells and oils that clog your pores. You can purchase cleansers, gels, creams, and scrubs at beauty stores and drug stores or make your own facial scrub at home.
Try the Sönd face mask
Detox and purify your skin with this exfoliating zeolite and bentonite clay face mask. Clear out toxins, bacteria and heavy metals for clearer, brighter skin. Absorbing toxins and replacing them with healthy minerals for a clearer, more radiant complexion
Unclog your Pores with Steam
Steaming your skin is a great way to open up your pores. Start the process by washing your face thoroughly and patting it dry with a soft towel. Fill a large bowl with boiling water. You can add peppermint tea, chamomile tea, green tea, or another extract to the water to help nourish your skin.
Place a towel over your head and angle your face over the bowl. Now allow the steam to soak into your face for about ten minutes. Rinse your face with cool water then apply a moisturiser. For the best results, steam your face once a week, for a period of 5-10 minutes.
Cleanse your Skin Twice Daily
The buildup of makeup, dirt, and oil can easily clog your pores, causing blackheads and acne. Get into the habit of washing your face with warm water and a mild facial cleanser every day.
Avoid using cleansers that contain sodium laureth sulphate as they can increase the skin pH level causing an increase in sebum production. Some of the best products for congested skin contain lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid.
Make Dietary Changes
A high-glycemic diet may trigger the overproduction of sebum which causes congested skin. To eliminate clogged pores, eat low-glycemic foods including dry beans, whole grain foods and green leafy vegetables.
Following a mostly alkaline diet full of vegetables and plant proteins will also help to decongest the skin.
Use Non-Comedogenic Products
Non-comedogenic, or non-pore clogging products have been developed to not sit in the pores, potentially blocking them. Look for non-pore blocking skincare, makeup and sun protection products. They’re often also labelled as oil free.
Avoid Picking at your Skin
It’s oh so tempting to pick at your skin if you can feel spots, lumps and bumps. But this is a big no-no for the skin! It only serves to damage or irritate the skin further, and potentially introduce dirt and bacteria from your hands, causing infected spots.
Try Retinol Based Skincare
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A that’s usually used as an anti-ageing ingredient in skincare. But retinol can also help to manage congested skin and blocked pores by helping to increase the elasticity of the skin.
It can be a little harsh on the skin, so it’s best to start on a lower strength retinol product before building up to a higher strength if you feel no adverse reaction. Retinol can increase the sensitivity of our skin to the sun, so it’s also best used at night.
If you’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant or you’re breastfeeding, it's not recommended that you use any products that contain retinol.
The Best Skincare Routine to Prevent Skin Congestion
At Sönd, we know what it is to have stressed out, non conformist skin. That's why we developed our own range of alkalising skincare to help manage everything from acne and eczema to oily skin and skin congestion.
Using our skincare range of cream cleansers, toners, serums and moisturisers can significantly help to improve your uneven complexion, blocked pores and skin congestion. We hope you’ll love it as much as we do!
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.