How to Tell if Pores Are Clogged

The pores in your skin serve as tiny exits for sweat and oils. They are also entrances for topical medications and beneficial skin creams when they are not blocked. A buildup of impurities inside the pores can interfere with normal functioning of the skin and lead to skin problems. Learn how to identify clogged pores so you can cleanse them accordingly and prevent this from happening.

concerned young woman looking in mirror
A woman looks at her skin in the mirror. (Image: Alliance/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Examine your skin to see if you have clogged pores. Pores clogged with dead skin cells, dried oils and other debris are usually easy to see, as the matter inside them makes them expand in size. Look for pinholes in the skin, and tiny black plugs of dried oils called blackheads. A blackhead is a definite indication a pore is clogged. Run your finger over the top of the blackhead. Sometimes you can feel the blackhead inside the pore. Also check for whiteheads, which are clogged pores that are closed. A whitehead, or milium, will appear as a tiny, raised white grain of sugar on the surface of the skin.

Step 2

Steam the pores you suspect are clogged for 10 minutes. If you are steaming your pores over an open bowl of water, drape a towel over your head and over the bowl of steaming water to keep the steam encapsulated inside the small tent you created. Hold your face about 18 inches above the surface of the water, taking care not to let the steam burn your skin. Steaming will open your pores and get them ready for extraction, which is the next step in identifying clogged pores.

Step 3

Stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit room. Wrap a thin strip of cotton around each forefinger and gently press the tips of each forefinger down against the skin around each pore. Press down on the skin, then push both forefingers toward each other to gently force out any matter that may be clogging the pore. If white matter comes out of the pore, the pore is clogged with soft impurities. Expulsion of dark matter, as in the case of a blackhead, indicates the pore is clogged with hardened oils.

Things You'll Need

  • A mirror

  • A bowl of hot water

  • A large towel

  • 3 or 4 cotton strips

Warning

Never proceed with steaming if you feel the steam is too hot.

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