How to Clear Sebum From Pores

Sebum is the filmy, sticky substance produced by the sebaceous glands. These glands often are found in the hair follicles and are responsible for keeping the skin's surface soft by preventing water loss. However, when produced in excess, sebum can cause the skin to appear oily and clog the pores. Too much sebum also can nourish the P. acnes bacteria that lives on the skin, leading to acne lesions, whiteheads and blackheads, according to DERMA Doctor.

A young woman washing her face with water. (Image: diego cervo/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wash your skin twice daily with an oil-free cleanser. DERMA Doctor recommends using a mild cleanser for washing the face, as you may use other products that are aimed at reducing oil on the skin, which can be extremely drying and irritating to the skin. Cleanse in the morning and at night, which can remove accumulated dirt and oil that have built up from the day and clean your skin for the application of a sebum-clearing product.

Step 2

Utilize an astringent pad, which can help to reduce the amount of sebum on the skin, according to Medline Plus. An example of a typical astringent used is witch hazel.

Step 3

Apply a skin treatment product designed to remove sebum from pores. These include products with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, both of which can be purchased over the counter. Salicylic acid encourages exfoliation of the skin's pores by causing excess dirt and oils to slough away. Benzoyl peroxide works to clear sebum by introducing oxygen into the pores, which then flushes sebum out of the pores.

Step 4

Apply an oil-free moisturizer to any areas that show dryness following topical acne applications. Because not every area of your skin produces excess oil, you may find you experience unexpected dryness while working to clear sebum. Common areas of dryness may include the eyebrows, chin and cheeks.

Step 5

Apply a facial mask once to twice per week in order to allow the mask's ingredients to seep deep into the pores, ridding the skin of excess oils. Examples of sebum-clearing masks ingredients include sulfur, clay or glycolic acid.

Things You'll Need

  • Oil-free cleanser

  • Topical treatment, such as salicyclic acid or benzoyl peroxide

  • Astringent

  • Oil-free moisturizer

  • Facial mask


Refrain from using products that contain oil, as these can further clog the pores and contribute to sebum production. Products that do not contain oil will be labeled as non-comedogenic.

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