There are two distinct forms of common acne. One results in red or white blemishes which are swollen and often painful to the touch. These blemishes are the result of bacteria which has entered a pore.
Another type of acne is less painful but, in many cases, more widespread. When a pore becomes clogged but not infected, the resulting blemish appears as a dull gray or black ‘dot.’ This dot is actually the top of built-up sebum (skin oil) which has collected in a pore.
How to Choose a Face Wash
Before you tackle your clogged pores, it’s important to choose a face wash which is specifically designed for your individual skin type. If you’re not sure of your skin type, you can use this easy test:
- Wash your face using your regular soap and warm (never hot) water.
- Gently pat your face dry using a clean towel.
- Without applying any facial products (lotions, creams, toners, serums, anti-aging treatments), wait fifteen minutes.
- Press a clean, dry tissue to your face. Notice where (if anywhere) you see oil on the tissue.
If you see no oil on the tissue, your skin type is most likely dry. Some oil (usually from the nose and forehead) indicates combination skin, while oil on all parts of the face indicates oily skin.
In addition to knowing your skin type, you must be aware of your skin’s tolerance for different skin-care ingredients. If you react very badly to cosmetics or perfumes in facial products, be sure to purchase a face wash labeled as hypo-allergenic or one designed for sensitive skin.
Exfoliation is Key
Since you’re tackling clogged pores, not acne-causing bacteria, there’s no need for ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Instead, it’s time to focus on exfoliation. Exfoliation simply means sloughing off the dead, dried layers of skin which many of us carry around. While it’s difficult to see this dead-skin buildup except in severe cases, it’s a leading contributor to clogged pores.
Face washes which contain small particles are designed to help remove dead skin and gently open clogged pores. The tiny particles act like massaging agents, gently rolling out blackheads and encouraging dead skin to detach and be rinsed away.
The type of exfoliation particles in your face wash depend on how sensitive your skin is, how many clogged pores you have and how well your skin naturally sloughs off dead cells.
If your skin is sensitive, seek out an exfoliating face wash containing very small and round exfoliation particles. These specially-designed beads have no sharp edges to irritate skin, and are the gentlest option available for opening clogged pores. Normal and oily skin can typically tolerate larger and jagged exfoliation particles.
Regardless of which type of face wash you choose, a good manual exfoliator will help a great deal in unclogging your pores. You may choose a facial scrubber, a small loofah or a regular washcloth. Remember your skin type during manual exfoliation, and stop immediately if your skin begins to hurt, turn red or bleed.
Once you’ve found a face wash and manual exfoliator combination which works for you, keep using them after your pores have unclogged to prevent the problem from recurring in the future.