Best Exfoliators for Clogged Pores

Despite the beauty industry’s relentless marketing teams insisting that they know how to shrink your pores, the sad truth is that it just can’t be done. That said, you can make them appear smaller by unclogging them and keeping them blackhead-free by removing dead skin and oil through regular exfoliation.

When you were a young, naive 13 year old you definitely thought that any exfoliator would do, as long as you could feel the tiny beads scrubbing at your skin, right? Wrong. You’re going to want one that targets clogged pores specifically, whether it be a mask, a chemical or a physical scrub.

Masks allow you to relax while the product does the work, chemical ingredients shed dead skin and encourage cellular turnover, and physical action requires scrubbing product into your skin. 

Physical exfoliators are great to buff away dead skin cells and leave you with a smooth feeling face, but many of these include abrasive ingredients like grains, beads or nut shells which can be harsh on your skin.

Chemical exfoliants like BHAs penetrate into your pores to clear them out and often include salicylic acid, which is a key ingredient in the success of unclogging your pores.

Face masks that also exfoliate are a great miracle product as they give your skin loads of other benefits while still exfoliating all that grossness out of your pores. 

Below we’re going to be looking at our five favorite exfoliators for clogged pores, as well as tips on what to look for when buying your new product and some frequently asked questions.

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Our Pick

Why is it our top pick?

Scrub away all your worries about your congested skin and take a look at our favorite exfoliator for clogged pores - Luminositie’s Australian Pink Clay Facial Mask.

More than just its gorgeous packaging and color, this mask is excellent for exfoliating your skin while giving your skin a much needed pick-me-up.

Here are just a few reasons why we love it: 

  • Organic ingredients mean it includes heaps of benefits for your skin.

  • A general rule-of-thumb is that if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be putting it on such a delicate area as your face. This product includes a list of simple ingredients so you’re not putting anything too harsh on your face. 

  • No soap or alcohol means it won’t dry your face out leaving you desperate for moisturizer.

Best Exfoliators for Clogged Pores - Comparison Table

Best Exfoliators for Clogged Pores - Reviews

Luminositie Skincare have formulated their Australian Pink Clay Facial Mask with a mix of red and white clay to give you the benefits of both. White clay reduces the sebum production, and red clay maintains and improves the collagen level which keeps skin looking young and rejuvenated.

Pink clay is suitable for all skin types and is full of various mineral salts. With its very light, grainy texture this mask gently exfoliates dead skin cells and draws out oils and toxins from deep underneath the skin. It also prompts healthy cell renewal which minimizes blackheads and skin congestion - two common causes of clogged pores. 

Along with white and red clay, this Australian Pink Clay Mask also includes: Aloe Vera which is used widely in skin products and considered a natural moisturizer even for oily skin;

  • Rose Damascena which protects the skin against damage of the day and supports new skin cell growth; 
  • Kakadu Plum which is full of Vitamin C and reduces hyperpigmentation;
  • Lactic Acid, an Alpha Hydroxy Acid used to treat a number of skin treatments while remaining milder than AHAs and Glycolic Acid;
  • Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A) which is a great and gentle way to promote skin cell turnover and help unclog pores.  

Once you’ve let the mask sit on your face for 10-15 minutes, you rinse it off in circular motions to encourage the exfoliating components.

Each of the natural ingredients within this mask benefit your skin greatly, while working to remove dirt and dead skin cells from your pores while you sit back and relax, making this a great contender for the best exfoliators for clogged pores.

Pros

  • 2-in-1 product that allows you to exfoliate whilst you relax with a face mask
  • Natural ingredients so you’re not putting lots of chemicals you can’t pronounce on your face
  • Lovely packaging and color of product

Cons

  • None

Botanic Tree’s Glycolic Acid Face Wash contains 10% glycolic acid which helps to alleviate clogged pores and remove any dead skin, as well as all natural and organic ingredients that penetrate deeply into your pores to rid your radiant skin of the dirt from the day, all while nourishing and soothing the skin.

Specifically formulated for men and women who suffer from age spots, dark spots, sun spots and other forms of discoloration while reducing acne scars and signs of premature aging.

This exfoliating cleanser is for oily, sensitive skin and includes bamboo, shea butter, willow bark, tea tree, seaweed, peppermint and lavender.

Botanic Tree claims their Acid Face Wash really gets into the skin for a deeper clean and to really shrink and unclog pores, instead of basic face washes that only clean surface dirt.

As well as unclogging your pores, this exfoliator also works to brighten a dull complexion and fight the appearance of aging. Due to the strength of this product, it is advised that you only use it 2-3 times a week for normal, dry or sensitive skin and 4-5 times a week for acne prone skin.

This means it’s strong enough to detox your skin without having to use it for every morning and night cleanse.

Pros

  • 100% organic ingredients and all of Botanic Tree’s products are cruelty free
  • Noticeable difference after just one use
  • Smells like a trip to the spa, perfect for self care nights

Cons

  • Contains microbeads which is not stated on advert
  • Doesn’t work for everyone's skin, according to reviews

The French pharmacy brand Vichy has created the ideal cleanser for oily and acne-prone skin types, as this deep cleansing wash purifies skin and unclogs pores without irritation.

As this formula doesn’t include any soap or alcohol, you won’t feel that harsh pulling sensation that comes with drying products.

Within this product is 0.5% Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid and LHA - the holy trinity of gentle exfoliants to unclog your pores. These acids work perfectly together to decongest your skin, reduce the oil build up which is the main cause of clogged pores, and work to keep it clear and soft.  

The translucent gel lathers easily into a fresh foam on your face, leaving your skin feeling velvety soft and super-clean. Paraben, soap, alcohol free, this cleanser is great for even the most sensitive skin. In four weeks, 90% of 76 women said they saw visibly healthier skin and 71% of women saw refined skin texture.

These numbers prove this is an excellent option for the best exfoliators for clogged pores.

Pros

  • Helped users clear up their cystic acne
  • Doesn’t dry out skin
  • Reasonable price for a high quality exfoliator

Cons

  • A few packages came damaged
  • Made some users breakout

L’Oreal is a reputable brand which is well known for their health and beauty products, so it stands to reason that their face masks are highly rated.

With six different masks with different but equally as beneficial ingredients within, their Pure Clay range caters to just about all skin types. Red algae is best known for unclogging pores from oily skin, whereas eucalyptus leaves purify and soothe your skin.

Both of these ingredients are sourced from France, where the algae is made with fine natural volcanic particles. 

Pure Clay is formulated to provide luxury skincare whilst the potent three clays, red algae and volcanic rock get to work exfoliating your dead skin from your face and smooth any surface imperfections. After one use skin texture appears redefined and your pores are visibly minimized.

L’Oreal suggests using this mask three times per week for 10-15 minutes each time to maximise the effects and get the best results. Considering the attractive price point and the natural ingredients used, the L’Oreal Pure Clay mask is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an exfoliant for clogged pores and you’re on a budget.

Pros

  • Users claim skin is visibly clearer after just one use
  • Works well with sensitive skin
  • Attractive price point

Cons

  • L’Oreal suggests using three times a week which won’t last for too long as the jar only includes about 10 uses
  • A user has found that the mask left a waxy residue on her face

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant unlocks your skin's natural glow by going deep into your pores to remove the dirt, oil and toxins, sheds the dead skin cells hanging onto your face, and soothes redness and evens out your skin tone.

Salicylic acid clears and minimizes the appearance of enlarged pores, visibly reduces fine lines and wrinkles and brings out the fresh layer of skin under all the old layers. Green tea is an antioxidant that soothes your skin, includes potent anti-aging benefits and can improve the appearance of sun damage.

This mix of powerful ingredients makes for the perfect exfoliant to unclog pores.

This product is a leave-on exfoliator, perfect for hectic schedules. BHAs mimics the natural exfoliation process of younger skin by helping to shed the extra layers while fully detoxing the skin of clogged pores.

This type of exfoliant is gentler on sensitive skin than an abrasive scrub which can cause micro tears, and it can actually exfoliate directly inside the pore and change how it works. Paula’s Choice Liquid Exfoliant also delivers hydration to the skin.

Pros

  • Completely cruelty free
  • Reviewers have called it a miracle product
  • Works for all sorts of skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and excessive oiliness

Cons

  • Interacts badly with the sun so make sure you either use it at night or use SPF
  • Makes skin purge before it gets better

Best Exfoliators for Clogged Pores - Buyers Guide

Skin Type

There are five primary skin types people have. Choosing an exfoliator for your skin type is the most important thing to look out for, as using one for the wrong type could make your skin worse.

For example, a person with oily skin using a product for dry skin types could make their skin more oily, congesting it further and causing more breakouts and clogged pores. Perhaps the most important thing you should know is that despite what marketers like to say, there are only a handful of facial scrubs that can be used on all skin types effectively.

Normal skin

Ah, tell us what it’s like to be the lucky chosen one. You can pretty much choose whichever product you like the packaging of most. You can experiment with anything and everything since your skin is so chilled out. Just remember to check the ingredients to see if there’s anything you’re allergic to. 

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is a tricky one as even the smallest of micro beads could set off a reaction. You’ll want to stay away from harsh exfoliating agents and go for one that is specifically for sensitive skin. Natural ingredients are also your best friend as they don’t include any harsh chemicals.

Liquid exfoliants can be good for sensitive skin but make sure you test every product out on a small area of your skin first. Better safe than sorry!  

Dry skin

People with dry skin will benefit from more of a moisturizer with a little bit of scrub thrown in rather than a scrub on its own. Look in the ingredients list and find a scrub with moisturizing agents such as jojoba oil. Too many harsh ingredients could cause your skin to become drier and more irritated than before.

Oily skin

On the other end of the spectrum from dry skin, oily skin types are prone to clogged pores the most due to the excess sebum. People with oily skin need to remember that it’s vital that you don’t over-exfoliate, as this could strip your skin of too many oils, causing it to overcompensate and produce more oil. As this is super counterproductive, make sure you use a scrub that doesn’t overdry your face.

Complicated, right? One ingredient that you should definitely look for is salicylic acid which helps regulate your skin’s oil production as well as cleaning clogged pores at the same time. 

Combination skin

Even more complicated than oily skin comes combination, as different parts of your face need different things. Fruit enzymes are great for combination skin as it won’t dry out your cheeks after exfoliating but it will also help reduce clogged pores. 

Preference

Depending on whether you’re a rough or gentle kind of person, you’ll have a preference of either a physical scrub, chemical exfoliant or an exfoliating mask. Some people like it rough - each to their own - so they’ll choose an exfoliator or mask with lots of grittiness that they can feel working on their skin.

Gentler exfoliators are often chemical types such as AHAs or BHAs. Choose your preference and find your new exfoliator accordingly! 

Usage

Some facial scrubs are designed to be used everyday, whereas some are harsher and therefore only need to be used once or twice a week. Having to use one only a couple of times a week can be more effort than people want to give as you have to remember to use it rather than your daily cleanser.

Some people prefer to use a gentler exfoliator daily so that they only have one product on the go. Whichever you choose, do not use it more than the bottle recommends, as this could be counterproductive and cause your skin to react badly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is toner and exfoliator the same?

Short answer: no. A toner is a product that cleanses the skin and shrinks the appearance of pores by sucking up all the leftover debris from washing, such as makeup. On the other hand, exfoliators go deeper than toners and work to push out all the dirt from the pores, creating a longer lasting effect. Using toner and exfoliators together can be a perfect mix and be the best way to get your pores to the smallest they’ve ever looked. 

How do you exfoliate clogged pores?

You can exfoliate in a number of different ways. The most common is to rub a quarter-size amount of product over your problem areas like your nose and forehead in an upwards, circular motion which pushes all the dirt out most effectively and prevents you from pulling your skin to create premature aging. You should massage the product for 30 seconds to a minute. After rinsing the product thoroughly, pat your skin dry. If you’re looking for a deeper cleanse, a face brush could be a great addition to your skincare routine.

For ​7 Super Effective Tips For Glowing Skin In Summer​​​ read this article from Naughty Nutrition.

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