The 3 Active Ingredients to Clear Your Pores

The 3 Active Ingredients to Clear Your Pores
by Truly Beauty

Are you one of those people who loves squeezing your clogged pores? Even though the derms advise against it, we get your frustration, and we know you'd do anything to see the back of your clogged pores. 

Fortunately, you don't need to resort to squeezing to dislodge that gunk. You can do it much more seamlessly (and safely!) with the help of three special active ingredients.

Wanna know what they are? Let's find out!



Skin debris is one culprit.

Dead skin cells and dirt mix with sebum (the oil your skin produces) and clog your pores.

"If the keratin or dead skin cell plug oxidizes by exposure to oxygen then it turns into a blackhead," says Dr. Anna Guanche, a board-certified dermatologist and celebrity beauty expert. "If the plug does not get exposed to oxygen then the clogged pore remains as a white head."

Slow cellular turnover is another factor. 

"Increased stress, bad diet, and lack of a great skin care routine can cause your dead skin cells to pile up and clog pores," she adds.

So, what is the solution? Ultimately, the key goal here is to speed up cell turnover so that debris doesn't end up clogging your pores. 



Salicylic Acid

To remove the impurities out of your pores, you need the best gunk and buildup buster available -- salicylic acid. 

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that loosens old, dead skin cells and cuts through sebum through gentle exfoliation. 

"Salicylic acid can directly dissolve the keratin plugs and regulate the skin cells," says Rachel Nazarian, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "It does have some effectiveness against cystic acne due to its antibacterial activity, but less so than the classic blackheads and whiteheads."

Its unclogging abilities also make it a fantastic acne treatment. That's why you'll often find salicylic acid in cleansers, toners, and other skincare products designed to treat acne.

Our fave products with salicylic acid: Tansy WaterCBD Jelly Anti-Blemish Cleanser, & CBD Jelly Facial Serum.


Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is one of the best skincare ingredients for unclogging pores, thanks to its incredible exfoliating capabilities.

When topically applied, glycolic acid swiftly permeates the skin cell and dissolves the bonds holding excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells together. Once it removes the pore-clogging debris from the cell, large pores will shrink.

Glycolic acid is also great at unclogging pores thanks to its ability to promote cell turnover. Using this exfoliant in your daily skincare routine can effectively speed up skin cell turnover to help get rid of blackheads, whiteheads, and angry red pimples.

Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that penetrates the skin more deeply than any other AHA thanks to its small molecular makeup. That means it's one of the most effective acne-fighting ingredients out there. By keeping the pores clear, it keeps breakouts at bay.

"In addition to exfoliating skin, glycolic acid also helps bind moisture to skin’s surface and can stimulate collagen production for noticeably firmer skin," notes founder of Paula’s Choice, Paula Begoun. "It also helps to ramp up vital substances skin needs to look and feel smooth, soft, and supple."

Our fave products with glycolic acid: CBD Jelly Toning Solution & Dragon Milk.



Acne-prone skin can benefit significantly from adding charcoal acne products into their daily regimen. Charcoal is an excellent acne-fighting ingredient that quickly and seamlessly unclogs pores. Dermatologists recommend using face masks formulated with the substance.

"Some of my favorite ways to unclog pores are by using either clay or charcoal masks which can help draw impurities, bacteria and sebum/oil out of pores," says Shari Marchbein, MD, dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. 

However, she cautions that masking is only a temporary fix. For best results, charcoal masks and pore strips need to be applied at least once a week in order to reduce the appearance of pores.

Charcoal is well-tolerated ingredient suitable for most skin types including oily skin and sensitive skin. It's least recommended for dry skin, as charcoal dries out the excess oil from the skin. 

Our fave products with charcoal: 24k Gold Black Soap Impurity Cleanser Black Jelly Blemish Treatment Body Serum.



Try Retinoids

If you're prone to breakouts, another great ingredient to try is retinol. There are many over-the-counter options like Differin gel that work well at clearing your pores and zapping away zits. 

As Dr. Marchbein points out, "Retinoid creams can build collagen over time, thereby strengthening the walls of pores and making them appear smaller. They also act to exfoliate the skin."


Only Use Non-Comedogenic Products

Non-comedogenic means a skincare product uses ingredients that do not clog the pores. Since you're looking to decongest them, always look out for non-comedogenic topical products.


Continue Moisturizing

The biggest misconception about acne and clogged pores is that you no longer need hydration. You do! Provided that you use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that won't clog your pores, it's still essential to keep your skin hydrated. Otherwise it can dry out and your skin will compensate for that dryness by creating more oil.


Try an In-Office Facial

If all else fails or you're simply looking for a quick way to unclog pores, book an appointment for a professional treatment, such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion which improve the appearance of pores by intensely exfoliating the skin.

These treatments also allow pore clearing ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and charcoal to go deeper into the skin, which can help minimize the appearance of pores.


If you've spent a lifetime searching for a way to make your pores less visible, it's time to give these three active ingredients a try. You can use them in cleansers, exfoliators, or serums. Just make sure you give them the benefit of the doubt and believe us, you really will notice a difference. 




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