You’ve emptied out a box of pore strips, picked your face too many times to admit, and maybe even invested in a pricey facial. Nada. The pores on your nose are still clogged up.
If you’ve long struggled with this skin sitch (like the author of this story), we’ve got some answers for you. We chatted with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Carl Thornfeldt to find out exactly why pores in your T-zone get so stuffed up and how to really clear them out.
So, despite what you might think, it might not be your cleansers fault.
"The clogged pores result from damage to the pore structure including contractile fibers that push oil to the surface and the gland being hyperactive,” our pro explained. "It is now known this response is primarily due to inflammation, not just increased hormones. To reduce gland function requires topical and oral therapy."
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So what are you to do? In terms of topical products, you need to be ingredient specific and look for those that will shrink the glands and reduce inflammation. Dr. Thornfeldt says these can consist of things like salicylic acid, sulfacetamide, sulfur, retinaldehyde, retinol, and niacin amid, among others. He also mentions herbal products with high levels of vitamin A and anti-inflammatory ingredients like rosemary, spearmint, curcumin, and castor.
"Oral supplements include spearmint, turmeric and ginger teas, niacinamide (vitamin B3) , vitamin B6 prior to menstrual period and through it, and zinc picolinate,” he continues.
Though one important note? To really get your pores unclogged, he says your topical products have to be oil-loving so they can get to the base. "Salicylic acid, malic acid or retinol chemical peels are particularly effective, while glycolic and AHA peels are not very effective since they are water soluble,” says Dr. Thornfeldt.
If all of the above fails? First, make a dermatologist appointment and consider asking about an in-office treatment.
"Red and infrared LED lights have multifunctional activity to clear these lesions as does photodynamic therapy (PDT) offered in medical spas and physician offices,” our pro says. "Intense Pulse Light therapy directly to the tissue is helpful. It has been shown that extraction alone without following with topical and oral therapy will result in refilling within 13 days."
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This article previously appeared on InStyle.