How To Keep Your Pores Clean

Updated 12/2/14. I’m often asked by my clients, “How can I keep my pores clean?” As a licensed esthetician and someone who has been manually cleaning out blackheads and clogged pores out of people’s skin for 25+ years, I’m well qualified to answer this question.

You need to do TWO things:

1. To get blackheads and clogged pores clean, you must get manual extractions either by doing it yourself or from an experienced esthetician on a regular basis, ideally monthly. Without a doubt, nothing will clean them out more effectively than manual extractions—not even a facial cleansing brush like the Clarisonic. If you want to try cleaning out your pores at home, read how to manually extract blackheads and clogged pores from your skin.

2. Keep them cleaned out by using a pore-clearing product with salicylic acid. Once they are clean, my favorite ingredient for penetrating into the pore lining and helping to keep them clean is salicylic acid. It’s a keratolytic beta hydroxy acid (BHA) famous for its ability to smooth the skin without causing irritation, reduce acne-causing bacteria and oil to prevent blemishes, all while penetrating the pores to help clear out impurities. If you have clogged pores, I recommend you to use BHA Clarifying Serum. It really works. (Even if you use it without cleaning out your pores first, it will still offer pore-clearing benefit.)

Keeping blackheads and pores clear takes work but if you commit to doing these two things, you’ll definitely notice a big improvement. I know we all want a quick fix solution but unfortunately this just isn’t possible.

What causes clogged pores?

For those who produce oil (due to genetics and more common in darker skin tones than in light), the oil gets blocked in the pore along with dead skin cells that don’t shed normally. This results in small, white bumps under the skin (also known as closed comedones) that don’t seem to go away. Sometimes moisturizers, such as those with mineral oil or petrolatum, can also cause bumps and clogged pores in the skin so it’s best to avoid these ingredients in your products.

What causes blackheads?

In the case of blackheads, they are enlarged pores (developed in your oily teenage years) containing oil that has oxidized from the air causing it to turn black. Contrary to what most people believe, it’s not dirt, it’s simply oxidized oil. This is why you should use an antioxidant serum with vitamin C to reduce oxidation; thus preventing blackheads from turning black as quickly after they have been removed from extractions.

How do I find a reputable skin care professional to clean out my pores?

You need to find an experienced esthetician to manually extract your clogged pores. The estheticians at Renée Rouleau Skin Care Spas are very skilled at gentle extractions but if you’re not nearby, then read how to find an esthetician in your area.

How can I shrink my large pores?

Long-term use of a product containing Retinol will really help smooth the skin and make pores look smaller and less noticeable. My very favorite product for making pores smaller is Advanced Resurfacing Serum with pure Retinol. Watch this video of me talking about how retinol products can dramatically smooth the texture of your skin with continued use.

Can the Clarisonic brush help clean my pores?

The Clarisonic brush will help to exfoliate the skin and while this may help a bit, it will never work as effectively as manual extractions or a salicylic acid serum that actually goes directly into the pores to clean out the lining. I have some definite opinions about the Clarisonic brush which you can read here.

Clean pores are essential to keeping the skin looking healthy, so while you do have to put in the effort regularly to keep the pores clean, my expert advice should give good results.

Read: Five Tips To Get Rid Of Adult Acne For Those In Their 30s, 40s And 50s

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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Content found on, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.