Let’s face it: we all experienced having zits at some point in our lives. After years of minimal to no skincare at all, you started feeling the bumpy pimples on your face. That’s when you know there is something wrong with your current skincare routine, and you need to level up your skincare game.
Congested skin is no joke. The way how your skin looks can take a toll on your self-esteem and can affect your everyday life. If you’re struggling with this problem, we’re here to tell you how to fix congested skin, unclog your pores and take care of your skin in dermatologist-tested ways.
What is Congested Skin?
Okay, let’s do a little science here. Congested skin happens when our sebaceous glands (the oil-secreting glands) overproduce oil. Our pores are overfilled, resulting in closed comedones (or whiteheads) and open comedones (blackheads). Congested skin isn't just one thing, it’s a combination of things. If your skin is congested, you might notice bumps underneath the skin, blackheads, whiteheads, acne, and an overall dull appearance.
How Can I Tell if I have Congested Skin?
A way to do it is to do a little finger check. All you have to do is to run your finger across your skin – does it feel bumpy and rough? Next, look at your skin in a well-lit mirror. Take a look at your nose and chin as these are commonly the most congested areas of the skin. Do they look dull? Can you see bumps, acne and small blackheads?
If you just checked yes to all of those questions, your unlucky stars say you are experiencing skin congestion.
What are the Causes of Congested Skin?
Overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands is the main culprit of congested skin. However, there are other factors why you are facing this skin problem. The key on how to fix congested skin is to understand the causes to properly care and choose the right skincare products for overall skin health.
Hormones affect how the sebaceous glands behave. For women, the monthly menstrual cycle increases the production of sebum, the skin's natural oil. The same can be said to men. When testosterone is released excessively, it increases the amount of oil produced by the sebaceous glands which lead to acne breakouts. Acne found in the nose, chin, and forehead areas of the face is mostly caused by hormonal changes.
Diet greatly affects how our skin looks. Numerous health studies claim that healthier skin is linked to healthy, well-balanced meals. The junk food we consume can make our skin feel like trash as well. Fatty foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol can trigger acne, and it's best to consume those in moderation.
Lack of a Regular Skincare Routine
Minimal to no skincare routine at all can do damage to the skin without us even knowing it. The everyday material we face can penetrate to the pores, thereby causing blackheads, whiteheads, or worse, acne. Practicing a regular skincare routine can make a lot of difference.
Using Incorrect Skincare Products
If you already have a skincare routine, chances are you already experienced bad products. Some of these products are toxic to the skin and can potentially cause breakouts. Choose dermatologist-approved skin care products that suits your skin type.
What to Avoid When You Have Congested Skin
Dermatologist Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica shares some things to avoid when you have congested skin. Here are some of her tips:
- Avoid Comedogenic Skincare Products. Comedogenic products are those skincare products inducing to clog pores and can potentially lead to acne. According to Dr. Hobson, “Steer clear of comedogenic makeup and skincare products, and avoid ingredients like mineral oil, lanolin, skin-stripping S.D (specially denatured) alcohol, and artificial colors.”
- Avoid processed foods where possible and limit refined sugar intake. “Sugar can promote acne by elevating blood sugar levels, resulting in a cascade of hormonal effects, including increased androgens (acne-causing hormones), excess oil, and increased cell production, all of which lead to clogged pores and breakouts,” Hobson adds.
How to Fix Congested Skin: 6 Dermatologist-Tested Ways
1. Start a Strict Cleansing Routine
The best place to start is to clean the surface of your skin and unclog your pores with a strict cleansing routine. Dermatologists suggest using a pH-balanced cleanser twice a day as a non-irritating way to remove excess oil. Clay-based cleansers, mildly granulated scrubs, and creams with AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids) and salicylic acid. Plant-based products are also good such as lavender, papaya, and tea tree oil.
2. Exfoliate Regularly for a Healthier Skin
Regular exfoliation can dramatically improve your skin. Doing so removes clogged oil and dead skin cells out of the skin. It is recommended to exfoliate at least once a week using the right exfoliant. Natural scrubs and exfoliating cleansers are some of the easiest ways to exfoliate. To do it, you can use a washcloth and gently massage the product into the skin in a circular motion.
3. Use Non-Comedogenic Products
Comedogenic products usually come in makeup foundations, creams and lotions. These products block the pores which cause breakouts. To look for non-comedogenic products, carefully check the label and or see if it is oil-free.
4. Hydrate Like Your Skin Depends On It
Skin dehydration can lead to further issues that result in skin congestion, so it is important to keep the skin well-hydrated. Products with retinol and other topical forms of vitamin A can also help fight against congestion by increasing cell turnover and preventing the skin’s opportunity to congest. Vitamin A can also reduce oil production in the sebaceous glands which also helps in the reduction of congestion.
5. No Picking and Scratching, Please!
The habit of touching the face can do more damage than good. Picking and scratching clogged pores or acne can make it worse by increasing the chances of infection. It may be tempting to do it, but it doesn't help, leave your face alone.
6. Try Dermatologist Treatments For Congested Skin
The safest and fastest way to treat skin congestion is to go to the nearest dermatologist and see what they can do. There are clinical treatments to unclog the pores and restore your skin's radiance. Multiple sessions may be required depending on the severity.
- Extractions: Dermatologists use special tools to safely extract plugs of sebum, which could cause blackheads or whiteheads from the pores. Never ever attempt to do this at home.
- Skin Peels: Chemical skin peels are used to treat dull or rough-textured skin.
- Microdermabrasion: This treatment involves physical exfoliation using a diamond any or crystal-tipped tool. Dermatologists do it to improve uneven skin texture.
- Hyaluronic Acid treatment: A quick study in 2017 found that injections of hyaluronic acid could reduce pore size with a few side effects.
The Bottom Line: Take Care of Your Skin More to Reduce Clogged Pores
Simply put, congested skin can be treated using a regular skincare routine especially cleansing, hydrating and exfoliating. It is best to identify the causes of the congested skin to properly diagnose where the problem came from. Using the right skincare products makes a huge difference, and it is important to choose what suits you.