Acne and clogged pores

Acne and clogged pores are not the same thing, but they almost always come together. (Clogged pores are one of the causes of inflamed acne). It makes sense to tackle both issues together in your routine.

Acne is an inflammatory skin condition. In other words, when you have acne, it means that the immune system in skin is on high alert. It attacks any possible threat with inflammation. As the result, inflamed spots appear.

The other part of acne coming to be is a presence of acne-triggering bacteria. An interesting fact that these bacteria live both on acne-prone and acne-free skin. The bacteria on their own do not cause acne. This is why acne is not an infectious skin condition.

Inflamed acne spot appear when immune cells in skin are on high alert and too many acne-triggering microbes live on the skin. We do not know for sure what comes first: the immune cells going on high alert responding to the bacteria, or more acne-causing bacteria growing (when the immune cells goes on high alert, our skin becomes a more favorable environment for the bacteria). In practice, it does not matter much. To help reduce and prevent acne, we need to both help our skin immune cells calm down, and reduce the number of acne-causing bacteria on the skin.

To help calm down your skin immune cells, we recommend treating acne-prone skin as a sensitive skin. In a nutshell, it involves using a minimal amount of products, going fragrance-free, and moisturizing well.

As for the acne-triggering bacteria, there are two main ways to reduce their number on our skin:

  1. kill or prevent them from growing with antibacterial ingredients (for example, benzoyl peroxide or prescription antibiotics);

  2. make their living conditions on the skin less favorable.

Acne-triggering bacteria do not like oxygen. That's why they live inside the pores. The more closed, or clogged a pore is, the better it is for the bacteria. This is why reducing clogged pores helps prevent acne.

We can reduce clogged pores with two methods. First, we can reduce the amount of "skin debris" (aka loose dead skin cells) that get stuck inside pores. We can do it using exfoliation. Salicylic acid is the most effective exfoliator for preventing clogged pores. The second method is reducing the amount of sebum (natural skin oil) that our skin produces. When sebum mixes with the "skin debris", it creates a sticky substances that clogs pores. Retinoids are the most effective skincare actives that can help reduce sebum production. (Retinoids also help regulate inflammation that results from the immune cells activation, which helps reduce acne as well).

Sebum production in our skin depends on hormones. This is why we get acne when we have more sebum-stimulating hormones in our bloodstream. For example, this is the case during teen years, in times of stress, and before female monthly period.

There is also a link between diet and acne for some people, but we need more studies to understand how exactly it works. Healthy balanced nutrition without excessive free sugars is probably helpful for preventing clogged pores and acne.

Other WIMJ resources about tackling acne & clogged pores:

Top actives against acne & clogged pores

Healing acne patches

Hydrocolloid spot patches help to heal the skin trauma from active blemishes faster and minimize the scarring. Hydrocolloid patches alone do not reduce inflammation. It is best to apply a spot treatment with Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide on the blemish first, and then apply the patch. Or you can select a patch with an anti-inflammatory active added to it.

Recommended patches

Starface Hydro-Star + Salicylic Acid
Price: $12.99
US, Canada, UK
Key ingredients
  • Hydrocolloid patch
  • Salicylic acid 1%
What we like about it:

Hydrocolloid patch with anti-inflammatory active Salicylic Acid. Reduce inflammation & help heal the acne-caused wound faster and with less scarring.

Example routines against acne & clogged pores

RoutineWizard
2 years ago
Ayoushi (https://whatsinmyjar.com/users/19262/ayoushi) is looking for a minimal budget-friendly skincare routine for acne-prone skin. The routine we've put together relies on the following actives: - Niacinamide (about 4%) in the moisturizer - 2x daily - Broad spectrum sunscreen ☀️ - Azelaic acid 10% - 1x daily - Retinoid - retinol + HPR, every other day (could be used daily once the skin "gets used" to it). For spot treatment, we recommend hydrocolloid patches with 1% salicylic acid (instead on the ones in the original routine - those included tea tree essential oil)
AM - Everyday
1
Skin Clear Lotion with niacinamide Boots - Skin Clear Lotion with niacinamide
2
Sun UV Face Sensitive Soothing UVA/UVB, 0% sticky skin feeling sunscreen protection SPF50+ Nivea - Sun UV Face Sensitive Soothing UVA/UVB, 0% sticky skin feeling sunscreen protection SPF50+
PM - Everyday
1
Ingredients Squalane Cleanser Boots - Ingredients Squalane Cleanser
2
Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% The Ordinary - Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
3
Skin Clear Lotion with niacinamide Boots - Skin Clear Lotion with niacinamide
PM - Every other day
1
Retinol Serum The INKEY List CA - Retinol Serum
PM - Once a week
1
HYDRO-STAR + SALICYLIC ACID Starface - HYDRO-STAR + SALICYLIC ACID
5
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RoutineWizard
2 years ago
This is a routine makeover for Katiev (https://whatsinmyjar.com/skincare-routines/public/7176). The original routine already includes good actives, but is too harsh on the skin barrier. The updated routine relies on these actives: - 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide every other day in the AM allover and daily as a spot treatment on active blemishes. We recommend to stop it after 3-4 month, or at least reduce the frequency. - Adapalene 0.1% daily in the PM (it's a good idea to start using it every other day at first and only increase the frequency once the skin feels not irritated or too dry). - 20% Azelaic Acid daily in the AM - Niacinamide about 4% 2x daily - Linoleic acid at about 1.5% combined (Honest Beauty serum + BeautyStat moisturizer) - Salicylic acid 2% once a week and as a spot treatment on active blemishes as needed
AM - Everyday
1
Azelaic Acid 20% Dermatica - Azelaic Acid 20%
2
Calm & POREfect Serum Honest Beauty - Calm & POREfect Serum
3
Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream BeautyStat - Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream
4
Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 PA+++ Supergoop! - Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 PA+++
AM - Every other day
1
CLEAR Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide Paula's choice - CLEAR Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide
PM - Everyday
1
Oat Cleansing Balm The INKEY List CA - Oat Cleansing Balm
2
Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment Differin - Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment
3
Calm & POREfect Serum Honest Beauty - Calm & POREfect Serum
4
Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream BeautyStat - Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream
PM - Once a week
1
Clear Regular Strength 2% BHA Exfoliant Paula's choice - Clear Regular Strength 2% BHA Exfoliant
2
0
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Latest community discussions about Acne & clogged pores

CHS CHS
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After workout skin care

Hi all,I have acne prone skin and have an alright routine going at the minute to keep the pimples at bay.I’ve started to do some more exercise recently to try and get a bit healthier and I think t ... Read more

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Boink Boink
2 weeks ago

Comedogenic?

Some sources indicate Sodium Chloride has comedogenic rating of 5. Shouldn't this be considered a comedogenic risk? I was looking at La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Cleanser on this website and ... Read more

Ingredient: Sodium chloride
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