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May 12, 2021
Pollution, environmental aggressors, humidity, sweat, excessive sebum, dead skin cells, unhealthy diet, and using incorrect skincare products, are all contributors to congested skin. The result? Whiteheads, blackheads, rough skin texture, dullness, and large pores, and ultimately acne and inflammations.
Your first instinct may be to use a cleansing brush, heavy-duty cleansers, and face scrubs, but the truth is, overly cleansing and scrubbing the face will strip the skin of of its natural oil, damage the skin barrier, leading to dryness, excessive oiliness, breakouts, redness, and inflammations that are even worse than what you had in the first place.
So how exactly should congested skin be treated?
Our skin is our body’s biggest organ, so it makes sense what you put inside your body reflects outwardly. Thus unless you clean up your diet, even the best skincare products in the world will not give you clear, pore-less skin.
For instance, some foods, such as chocolate, fried foods, dairy products like ice cream, milk, cake, cheese etc., contain saturated fats that can result in our sebum turning thick and sticky, and blocking the pores. Whilst, others, like sugar and coffee, can cause a rise in our insulin and/or cortisol level, which is linked with increased production of sebum, congested pores and acne.
Twice a week, use a kaolin clay-based mask. Commonly used in skin care products due to its ability to absorb excess oil or sebum, clear pores, prevent acne, and smooth skin, kaolin may also offer mild anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and healing benefits.
As it is gentler on the skin than other types of clay, it is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and inflammatory skin.
Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask <- Click to shop
The London Mask <- Click to shop
Three times a week, use an acid-based treatment to exfoliate and clear pores. AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acid) and PHAs (polyhydroxy acid) can dissolve the bond between dead skin cells to exfoliate, allowing spots to fade faster and skincare products to penetrate better. Whilst, BHA (beta-hydroxy acid), which is oil-soluble, can penetrate into and clear out pores, preventing acne and blackheads.
Acids may sound irritating to many, however, with the right formulation and concentration, they can be used by all skin types, even sensitive, rosacea, and eczema prone skin, to target acne, pigmentation, uneven skin tone, rough texture, and allow skincare products to penetrate better. What’s better, long-term use can also increase collagen and hyaluronic acid deposition and synthesis within the dermis, so the skin will appear more plumped, smooth and bouncy!
You can read more about the differences and effects of various types of AHA, BHA, and PHA here.
No. 9 Exfoliant <- Click to shop
On the other hand, retinol is one of the few potent anti-aging, anti-acne ingredients that is widely recognized by both the dermatological and scientific communities. This star ingredient not only activates collagen and epidermal growth factor receptors, but also promotes cellular turnover, thereby reducing wrinkles, acne, dullness, scarring, hyperpigmentation, rough skin texture, and enlarged pores, making it a great treatment ingredient for congested skin.
For beginner users of retinol, it is best to start with using it once per week, then slowly building up to three times per week, then finally every night as tolerated by the skin.
Stellar Restoration Corrective Complex <- Click to shop
Our skin gets bombarded with pollutants and dirt on a daily basis, which are then mixed with our own sebum, dead skin cells, and makeup. Thus to achieve clear skin, it is vital to start with an adequate daily routine, rather than relying on a monthly facial and extractions session at your beauty salons.
Contrary to properly belief, the skin does not breathe (we breathe with our lungs, people), thus as long as quality makeup products are used, they won’t wreak havoc on the skin. Not thoroughly removing makeup though, will definitely result in congested skin.
Remember how oils and water don’t mix? Impurities, including makeup, sebum, and some pollutants, are oil-based, thus simply cannot be thoroughly removed by a water-based cleanser. When you rely on one single water-based cleanser to cleanse and remove makeup at night and call it a day, some of those substances will remain on the skin even after rinsing with water, eventually congesting the pores.
Using an oil-based cleanser first, which is designed to remove such oil-based particles, can remove this first layer of impurities, giving way for the second water-based cleanser to really get to the skin and remove water-based debris such as sweat and dirt.
holi(cleanse) Cleansing Face Oil <- Click to shop
While we all use a facial cleanser at night, some people simply use water to cleanse in the mornings. The truth is our skin renews itself at night, bacteria, sweat and dirt can accumulate throughout the night, and excess skincare products used the night before can also stick to the skin, therefore it is best cleanse in the mornings to avoid congestion, as well as prep the skin for your morning skincare routine.
If congested skin is of particular concern, rather than using a harsh cleanser, choose one that contains lactic acid (a gentle, hydrating type of AHA), salicylic acid (BHA), or enzymes, to gently break up dead skin cells and clear pores, without the risk of irritations.
Smooth Operator Purifying Cleansing Gel <- Click to shop
Gentle Matter Daily Moisture Cleanser <- Click to shop
acid(wash) Lactic Acid Brightening Cleanser <- Click to shop
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