Congested pores, dull complexion, uneven skin, whiteheads and blackheads are actually signs of clogged skin and it does not happen only on young people but also on adults. Also known as open comedones, blackheads are actually small plugs that seal the pores. They are made of oils, dead cells and sebum, due to exposure to the air, the plug darkens. On the other hand, whiteheads stay under the skin surface and covered by debris, so they remain lighter in color.
Whiteheads, blackheads, and clogged pores occur due to a few factors, such as accumulated toxins, excess fat and sebum. In addition, pollution, dead skin cells, make-up and dirt can enter the open pores, which continuously producing sebum and oil. Each factor contributes to congestion differently, but still significantly:
• Oil and sebum: They contribute in causing clogged pores and stimulating the growth of bacteria around it. When combined with other factors like dirt, black spots may form easily.
• Toxins: Skin cells are supplied with nutrients by the blood and lymphatic fluid, they also transport toxic material to skin for elimination through sweat. However, if toxins produced in our body are not disposed of properly, they may contribute to congestion and other problems such as skin irritations and acne.
• Dead skin cells: Our skin cells regenerate every three or four weeks. This natural process causes a layer of dead cells to appear on the skin surface. If not removed regularly, our skin won’t appear as vibrant as it should. In addition, dead cells can clog pores on our face and cause congestion or blackheads. On people with excessive production of sebum, this situation can cause blackheads and whiteheads more likely to happen.
• Skin care and make-up products: One of the main reasons for congested skin is products that contain oil-based petrochemical, which may prevent your skin from breathing properly. Talcum powder, often used in make-up for finishing powder tends to behave similarly. Waxes and creams can also be a problem to those with congested skin. These products are usually used daily, so it’s important to put on make-up that fit your skin type and won’t contribute to additional congestion.
• Pollution and waste: A layer of chemicals from pollution build up on your skin during the day, it plays a significant role in causing clogged pores and blackheads formation. The more polluted the place you live in, the more likely it is for you to experience skin contamination. Effective cleaning of the skin is very important to get rid of grime and dirt. And just a trickle of water won’t be enough. The dirt that is accumulating on your face and other body parts, is a great breeding ground for microorganism and when combined with oil, it can make matters worse. Dirty hands are also often the main culprit of congested skin as you may regularly rub yourself unintentionally, which simply exacerbate the problem.
So, do you want to eliminate blackheads and relieve congested skin? Actually, squeezing them is not a good idea, it can only lead to skin irritation and cause scarring on the surrounding tissues.
Instead of squeezing blackheads, you should deal with the actual cause directly. These are seven ways to make your skin glows once more:
1. Proper cleaning routine: It is essential to clean our skin from dirt and traces of pollution each day. Use a mild detergent as using very dry and harsh cleaners will exacerbate the problem, leading to increased oil production. If your skin is tight and dry after washing, things can get worse. Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, as it can increase the skin pH level, again it will increase oil production.
2. Gentle exfoliation: To reduce clogged and congested pores, the top layer of your skin should remain clear of dead skin cells. Some products are very effective in removing dead skin cells. Regular use of scrub or facial exfoliants can help to get rid of dead skin cells that clog your pores. Removing dead cells layer also allows moisturizer to work more efficiently, as it works with live cells than the dead ones.
There are a few things to consider when choosing a scrub. It’s amazing to know that many people are unaware that body scrub is actually too harsh for their face. Skin on your face is thinner so you need softer scrub. A body scrub actually works like a brush on your face and can damage healthy skin cells. If inflammation and redness occur after using a scrub, you should switch to a product that has no abrasive cleansing action. It is recommended to use a scrub 2-3 times per week or after spending all day on dusty environment.
3. Use fruit enzyme: It is effective for removing dead skin cells, because fruit enzyme can make dead skin cells easier to remove. The skin may have a layer of dead cells and fruit enzymes can accelerate skin cells regeneration. This leads to greater skin flexibility and reduces the formation of excessive dry flakes on the skin surface.
Pineapple, pumpkin, and papaya contain a natural, gentle enzyme called protease that can unglue dead skin cells and tighten pores while giving additional nutrition to the skin. It keeps the skin clean, smooth as silk and reduces the chance of blackheads. Fruits enzyme should be used about twice a week.
4. Light moisturizers: Moisturizers that contain waxes, oils, creams and petrochemicals may make congestion more likely to happen and they contribute to blackheads. Note that creams and waxes are certainly useful for dehydrated people or those with dry skin, but for congested skin, lotions should be used instead of rich cream. For people with congested combination skin and dry skin on certain areas, they should use hyaluronic acid and oil-based serum to increase the skin moisture without causing new problems.
5. Glycolic acid and salicylic acid: At high concentrations, these chemicals work well for congested skin, in short-term; they may cause serious problems and can reverse your effort in trying to remove blackheads because they make skin drier. Additionally, people who use high concentration of glycolic acid often may experience irritation and redness when they are exposed to slightly acidic substances such as ascorbic acid or even lime juice. If you want to use these products, try to discuss it with your dermatologist. Initially, start with low concentration at short-term and observe for signs of dry skin.
6. Mineral make-up: It is a good option for people with congested skin. Instead of filling in or falling on the pores, the pigment particles sit on the skin surface, which allow the skin to breathe well. It reduces congestion and finally allows pores on our skin to contract.
7. Lifestyle and dietary habits: Drinking a lot of water can help to remove toxins from our system and regular exercises will allow smoother lymphatic flow. Together, these two factors will contribute to lower level of toxins.
Research at a university in Melbourne, has discovered that a low-GI (glycemic index) and moderate-protein diet improves acne symptoms. Our diet should be consisted of 45% of energy from carbohydrate and 25% of energy from protein. This research has been conducted in patients with acne and it was shown that there is a strong correlation between a diet with GI and skin congestion. In general, a high-GI diet may cause a relatively higher level of toxicity and systemic inflammation, as the result it may make us more susceptible to skin diseases associated with toxins excretion.
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, nuts and seeds is good for our skin because it contains many vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that promote a healthier skin.