How to Reduce Blackheads and Enlarged Pores PERMANENTLY!

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Hello again everyone. Today we're going to talk about blackheads and enlarged pores and what you can do at home to reduce them permanently. Make sure you stay tuned till the end of the article because I'm going to have some very easy and quick DIY clay mask recipes for the different treatments that I recommend throughout the article. 

Now, before I get started, I know that some people may not like these sorts of solutions that I have to offer because it's human nature to want a very quick and easy solution to a problem that you never have to think about again. But unfortunately, skin doesn't really work that way. Skin is not a static entity. It's constantly changing and renewing itself, so you have to care for it consistently if you want it to behave the way that you want. Just like you can't go to the gym once and expect your entire physique to change, you can't do one skin care treatment and expect your skin to change. So the things that I have to offer focus on consistent care over the long term. 

When most people talk about blackheads, they may not actually be referring to comedones (which is the technical name for blackheads), but they may also be referring to enlarged follicles (which is the technical name for pores). So when I talk about blackheads in this article - or enlarged follicles - I'm kind of referring to both because the treatment is pretty similar. 

Now, the best way to reduce follicle size and blackheads is going to depend largely on your skin type, but there are certain things that are good for all skin types in this situation, including clay masks. However, the way that you use the clay mask is going to vary, so make sure that you listen to the instructions for your specific skin type.

1. Oily Skin

We'll start with oily skin, since oily skin is most commonly associated with blackheads and enlarged follicles. Now, oily skin is prone to these problems because of its excessive oil production, but also because oily skins tend to have an above average desquamation rate - and this is just a very fancy word for the process of the skin sloughing cells off naturally - and these cells can accumulate inside the follicle and mix with sebum to give an enlarged appearance. 

This can happen with all skin types, but it is most problematic for oily skins. The solution is to try to normalize the skin through use of mild products - mild enough to not over-dry your skin or to strip the oils, but effective enough to keep your oil under control. This means using a good cleanser and toner and a light moisturizer. In addition, I recommend the use of a salicylic treatment in the form of a toner or a leave-on treatment like a gel, which can help to break up the deposits inside the follicles to help prevent excessive accumulation of skin cells and sebum. 

In addition, I do recommend the use of clay masks for oily skin; they can be extremely beneficial. My approach is a little unconventional in this area because I am a huge fan of clay masks and what they can do. So with my clients, I've had great success recommending a sort of clay mask "boot camp", where you use a clay mask every day for two weeks at the beginning of your treatment and then cut down to two to three times per week after that. Now, when I prescribe these sorts of products and treatments, I always say "as tolerated", and this means "do this so long as your skin is not showing any signs of irritation or dryness"

If I tell you to use a clay mask five to seven days per week for two weeks, but you find after four days that your skin is starting to dry out, what I mean by "as tolerated" is "cut back to a point where you can try to fulfill the prescription that I've given you while still being good to your skin". So if five days per week is too much, drop down to four. If that's too much, drop down to three, etc... 

So I recommend trying the clay mask for two entire weeks every day if you can and then cutting back to two to three times per week indefinitely until the problem has resolved itself enough for you to drop down to about once or twice a week. And always when you're using clay masks, you want to follow it immediately with moisturizer, and if it's during the day, you want to follow with sunscreen.

2. Combination Skin

For combination skin, a lot of the tips from the oily skin section will be useful, but you also may find that you need to use two sets of products for the different types of skin on your face. For example, if you have an oily T-zone, but your cheeks and chin are dry, you may find that you need two different moisturizers to suit the needs of the different areas of your face. 

What I tend to find with combination skin is that they tend to use products that are for oily skin because they want to keep their oil under control, but it's stripping too much oil from the face, creating more problems than it solves. It can create even more excessive oil production in the oily areas with excessive dryness and flakiness in the dry areas. So like with oily skin, you want to use non-irritating products, but try to find a milder cleanser instead of using an overly harsh one. What you can do instead is get a salicylic toner to use only on your oily areas and two different moisturizers to use: one on the oily area and one on the dry area.

Argan Oil

Or if you find that your dry areas are not too excessively dry, what you can do is get a very light moisturizer for your entire face and then touch up the areas that are more dry with something like argan oil. I'm a big fan of argan oil because it seems to be very well tolerated. And even with myself, when I was having some enlarged pore issues around my cheeks, I was using argan oil with a couple of other things that I'll talk about, and it didn't seem to exacerbate the problem at all. So if you don't want to buy two moisturizers, you can buy the one and use your argan oil on the areas that need it. 

I do like to recommend my two-week mask boot camp for combination skin as well, except that I only want you to apply the mask to your oily areas. So if it's only your T-zone, only apply it to your T-zone. If it's just, like, one area on your cheeks, only apply it there. And if it's random areas, just apply it wherever it needs it. Only do this "as tolerated", once again, so if your skin starts to show signs of dryness, cut back until it seems to normalize again, and always follow with moisturizer and sunscreen if it's during the day.

Salicylic Acid 

Salicylic acid is really the best thing, in my opinion, for helping to reduce excessive follicle size for oilier skin types, and one salicylic treatment that I really do like that gets great reviews is the Skin Perfecting--the Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA liquid. This is a salicylic toner that you can use after cleansing and as a spot treatment, and it seems to be very well tolerated and doing very well with a lot of people that I've recommended it to. It's too drying for me, so I don't use it that way, but I do like to keep it on hand for other reasons, including keratosis pilaris treatment. 

But for oilier skin types, having something like this around is definitely a very good idea. Even if your skin starts to normalize, having this around means that if you have a little bit of excess oil--like, for women, our oil levels tend to fluctuate with our hormonal levels--it's good to have something like this on hand so that if you do start to have that problem, you can start to treat it right away.

3. Dry skins

Now, for dry skins, it's a little more complicated because salicylic can be a little too drying, which is why I don't use those on my face because I have extremely dry skin. Since blackheads and enlarged follicles on dry skin are not necessarily connected to excessive oil production, using oil-reducing treatments is not going to be the most effective thing. 

What I've found is the most effective is the consistent use of mild leave-on exfoliating treatments like AHAs and mild retinols. Two products that I've been enjoying are again from Paula's Choice (and I swear this is not sponsored; I just really love their products): this is the Paula's Choice Daily Smoothing treatment with five percent alpha hydroxy acid, and this is one that I've been trying recently called the Resist Intensive Wrinkle Repair retinol serum.

Very Mild Retinol Product

I did use this for about six months before I started using this one. This is a really great one, but right now I'm really loving this one. Now, this is a very mild retinol product, and I tend to be more on the conservative side when it comes to recommending retinols, especially for people under 30, because it can have the unintended side effects of inflammation and increased sun damage. I always say that you don't want to create new problems when you're treating a problem, so my approach, especially when it comes to pharmaceuticals and very strong retinol products, is a bit more conservative than average. 

So you take that for what it's worth, and you can make up your own mind about it. But like I said, this a very mild retinol; this is nowhere near the strength of something like a Retin-A or a Differin, and I definitely don't recommend using those for anything except the most extreme cases for people under 30. For people over 30, if you're talking about anti-aging, it's a bit of a different conversation, but we'll get into that another time. 

I should also note that retinols can cause some pretty dramatic redness and peeling in dryer skin types, which is why I personally haven't been using them consistently until now. Like I said, this is a very mild one, and I haven't had any of those sorts of undesirable side effects with this one, so so far, I'm really loving it.

Cleansing Brushes

The other tip that I have for reducing follicle size in dry skin involves very efficient cleansing, and this is why I love cleansing brushes so much, including the Clarisonic. Now, you don't have to buy a Clarisonic. I do think this is the best one on the market. However, you can still get the same benefit from a manual cleansing brush, which usually runs around five dollars. What's so great about them is that they're so efficient at cleansing that you can switch to a much milder cleanser than you're used to. 

So like me, for example, I used to use much stronger cleansers (like foaming cleansers) because my face--while it isn't particularly acne-prone, or it didn't used to be very sensitive - it would get little irritation-type breakouts if I didn't clean very, very well. So I would use cleansers that were not entirely appropriate for my dry skin type. But when I switched to using a Clarisonic (which I've been using for about three years now), I could - for the first time in my life--use cream cleansers, which are appropriate for very dry skin. 

Now, like I said, I do think the Clarisonic is the best one on the market, but it is pretty expensive. So if you can't afford it or if you don't want to spend the money on it, you can get some of the same benefit from using a less-expensive cleansing brush. But this is very good for all skin types, not just dry skin. 

If you are normal skin, if you're combination skin or oily skin, cleansing brushes are a really great tool because they do make the most of the cleanser that you're using. So to wrap up dry skin, just remember to use mild, unscented products, make sure you're using sunscreen, and you can use clay masks as tolerated. I don't necessarily recommend that you do the two-week-in-a-row clay mask, but you can use them a couple of times a week as tolerated depending on the recipe that you use. 

Before I move on to some very easy DIY mask recipes, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been sharing my articles recently. It really does mean a lot. It does help me out very much. So if you've liked anything that I've had to say or if anything's been useful, I'd really appreciate it if you would share this article: put it on Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter, just any way that you can to just help get my articles out there.

4. Clay Mask Recipes

One of the easiest clay mask recipes is just to get some kaolin or bentonite clay - just pure clay, nothing else added to it - and mix in a little bit of your unscented and alcohol-free toner. Mix them together until you get a fine paste, and then apply that for five to ten minutes, only until it starts to dry. You don't want it to get uncomfortable. You don't want it to dry completely. If it starts to feel at all uncomfortable, that's when you rinse it off. There is no benefit to leaving it on your face so long that it starts to feel uncomfortable, and remember that discomfort equals inflammation and irritation, and that is bad. 

I talked about honey in my 'DIY Ingredients to Try' article, about how it's a great humectant and has great antibacterial and antiseptic properties--and anti-inflammatory properties, which are always great--so if you're feeling a little adventurous, you can add a bit of honey to your mask. I always recommend raw honey or manuka honey if you can get it, but if not, a little bit of regular honey will work too. Just remember that raw honey is much, much better.

For dry skins

You can benefit from clay masks as well. Just remember that you don't want to be over-drying your skin, so find a toner that is very, very hydrating and moisturizing, something that is mild enough to use around the eyes, and I love this Resist Advanced Replenishing toner. This is absolutely my favorite product from Paula's Choice. If I don't use it, my skin is just a mess. I really notice a huge, huge difference if I run out of it. But any toner that you find that you like, that works really well for you and is very hydrating, you can mix in a little bit of the clay. 

You definitely don't want to mix in as much as the oilier skin types are using, but you can still get the same benefit. So just mix in less of the clay and make it more of a liquidy consistency instead of a thick paste. Also, if you want to thicken it up, you can add some oats to it. Oats are really great for dry skin as well. And the honey, which is a humectant. Alright, that's pretty much all I have to say about it right now. I know that's a lot to throw at you guys, but I think there's some really good information in there that everyone can use.


Remember that the secret to good skin care is consistency. So like I said, it doesn't matter if you do one amazing thing for your skin every year. What matters is what you do every day. So the things that I've talked about here are really designed to help you get in a routine of caring for your skin that will give you the results that you want. In this case, that means reducing the appearance of follicles and blackheads and preventing more from forming. 

If you have any more questions that I haven't answered, please do leave them below. Hope you have a wonderful day, and I will see you soon. Bye!


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