Skin Care 101: What Causes Clogged Pores?

May 24, 2016 by L'Oréal
By: by L'Oréal | by L'Oréal
Skin Care 101: What Causes Clogged Pores?

Clogged pores can happen to anyone—even those of us who follow a strict skin care routine.  As the most basic root of acne, clogged pores have been blamed for everything from blackheads to an uneven complexion. What causes clogged pores? We share five main culprits below.

Dead skin

Our skin’s top layer—the epidermis—is constantly creating new skin cells and shedding old ones. When these dead skin cells have an opportunity to build up—due to dry skin, lack of exfoliating, or other factors—they can clog pores.  

Excess oil

The next layer of our skin—the dermis—houses the glands responsible for creating our skin’s natural oils. These oils, called sebum, help to keep our skin soft and hydrated. Occasionally these sebaceous glands go into overdrive, creating too much oil and causing dead skin cells to stick together and plug up pores.

Hormonal changes

When our bodies are going through hormonal ups and downs, the amount of oil our skin produces can change. This means that periods, pregnancy, and puberty may lead to an unfortunate upswing in oil causing blocked pores and acne.


While it would seem that exfoliating away those built-up dead skin cells would be the solution to any clogged pore problem, overdoing it can just make the problem worse. When you over-exfoliate you end up drying out your skin, adding another layer of blockage. The dryness then causes your skin to over-compensate with more oil production, further clogging your pores.

Hair and skin products

Your favorite beauty products may be to blame for your blocked complexion. Many go-to products can contain formulas with pore-clogging ingredients. Look for products with “non-comedogenic” on the label, which means the formula shouldn’t lead to obstructed pores. 

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