If You’re Dealing with Congested Skin, These Are the Products to Clear It Up

Best Products For Congested Skin

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Dealing with a severe case of clogged pores or breakouts? Don’t throw away the towel just yet. Because I’ve mapped out the perfect routine and picked out the best skincare products for congested skin. But let me tell you this: if your attempts to treat congestion have failed thus far, there is a great chance you mistook your bumps with something else and used the wrong products to get rid of them. Because congested skin is such a vague term, it brings about confusion of the highest order! Congested with what exactly? Where? How? So we’ll clear that one up before moving on to your skin.

What Is Congested Skin?

The scientific term for congested skin or congestion is comedogenesis. Congested skin refers to skin with clogged pores. It usually looks like bumpy skin with blackheads, which are also known as open comedones, and whiteheads, which are also known as closed comedones.

When excess sebum and dead skin cells get trapped inside the pores and the pores have an opening, you get blackheads. When there is no opening, you get whiteheads.

These usually appear on the cheeks, chin, and forehead: the T-zone. Even though both of them count as types of acne, whiteheads, and blackheads are not related to inflammation or bacteria.

This means that anti-bacterial or anti-inflammatory skincare products may not always work for treating congested skin. This might explain why some of those products did not work out for you. However, whiteheads and blackheads can lead to inflammatory acne.

What Causes Congestion?

There is no one answer to what causes congestion just as there is no single solution to congested skin. However, people with oily skin, whose skin produces excess oil, are more prone to congestion.

Anything that triggers oil glands to excessively produce oil has the potential to give you congested skin. But it can be more related to what you’re doing with your skincare routine on a day-to-day basis.

For example, using products not suitable for your skin type, using comedogenic products, not removing your makeup, over-exfoliating, or not exfoliating enough can lead to excess oil production, which leads to congestion.

Best Ingredients to Clear Congested Skin

There is a variety of skincare ingredients that can help with bumpy, congested skin. However, not all of them work for all kinds of congestion. These ingredients differ in the way they work on the skin and the exact type of acne they target.

Below are some of the best ingredients to look for in your products to treat congested skin.

1. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is the best skincare ingredient to get rid of congested skin. It’s an exfoliant that dissolves dead skin cells. The major advantage of salicylic over other hydroxy acids is the fact that it’s oil-soluble.

So it can penetrate the pores where the problem lies. It also prevents the formation of comedones. This is why salicylic acid works so well for unclogging pores and removing blackheads and whiteheads.

2. Retinol

Retinol is the secret to perfect skin. Retinol works by speeding up skin turnover. Regarding congestion from blackheads and whiteheads, retinol basically pushes them out.

It works incredibly well for acne and scars as well. But your skin needs to get used to it. And during that time, you may experience purging. So, retinol is great in the long run.

But if you’re looking for faster results with minimum side effects, maybe skip retinol for now because it may make things worse before it makes them better.

3. Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is majorly anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. So it’s great for inflammatory acne and is a gentle ingredient for people with rosacea too. But it has another benefit to it.

Azelaic acid prevents the overproduction and accumulation of dead skin cells. Remember that whiteheads and blackheads occur partly because of those dead skin cells. By controlling overproduction, azelaic acid prevents congestion.

4. Niacinamide

While niacinamide does not directly eliminate clogged pores, it indirectly affects them. Niacinamide, aka vitamin B3, reduces excess oil production on the skin. As a result, it can prevent the formation of blocked pores.

Niacinamide serums can be an alternative if your skin can’t tolerate retinol or salicylic acid. With niacinamide, you can minimize oil production. And eventually, your skin will have enough time to get rid of clogged pores.

5. Clay

As a mineral, clay helps congested skin by absorbing excess oil from the pores and drawing out impurities. As it dries on the skin, it clings onto the dirt and debris inside the pores and pulls them out.

Clay is a practical ingredient for people with clogged pores. Use clay masks to manage oily skin and the associated issues.

Best Products for Congested Skin

Here’s your roadmap. To clear up congested skin, you’re going to normalize sebum production, get rid of existing clogged pores, prevent the formation of future blackheads and whiteheads, and do all of these without being too aggressive. And I’ve got the best skincare to help you with that!

From cleansers to serums, below are the best products to clear congested skin.

1. The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser

The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser - Best Drugstore Products For Congested Skin

Adding an acne face wash into your routine is a great way to clear congested skin. It requires minimal investment, hardly has any potential for irritation, and you don’t need to alter your skincare routine. This is a daily cleanser made with 2% salicylic acid.

The gel cleanser also contains zinc PCA to reduce excess sebum and allantoin to reduce inflammation, which might lead to acne. The cleanser foams and deep cleans the skin. The fragrance-free formula exfoliates to get rid of blackheads on congested skin.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, allantoin, zinc PCA
Size: 5 oz/ 150 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free

2. Peace Out Salicylic Acid Treatment Serum

Peace Out Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Serum - Best Products For Congested Skin

This treatment targets clogged pores by exfoliating the skin. 2% salicylic acid dissolves the oil and dirt inside the pores while niacinamide minimizes oil production and prevents future blackheads.

Plus, the salicylic acid serum contains the antioxidant vitamin C to promote a more even skin tone. It’s an effective treatment for congested skin to buff away pore-clogging dirt, oil, and pollutants.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide, Centella Asiatica
Size: 1 oz/ 30 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free

3. Origins Clear Improvement Pore Clearing Moisturizer

Origins Clear Improvement Pore Clearing Moisturizer

This moisturizer not only prevents clogging but also treats it. It’s an oil-free, daily moisturizer that contains 1% salicylic acid. It hydrates with hyaluronic acid and absorbs excess oil with charcoal powder. You don’t have to go out of your way to treat congestion.

Just switching your moisturizer with something like this one will make all the difference for your complexion. You can also use this one as a night cream and keep what you have for AM. The salicylic acid moisturizer has a gel-like texture and leaves the skin looking radiant and feeling plump.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, charcoal powder
Size: 1.7 oz/ 50 ml
Good To Know: Vegan

4. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion - Best Products For Congested Skin

This is hands down one of the best products to clear congested skin. And it’s all thanks to its minimal and effective formula made with retinol. Don’t be fooled by the fact that is Granactive retinol. It’s still retinol, meaning that it still can be irritating.

But once you’ve successfully incorporated it into your routine, you’ll see that the top layer of your skin renews and blackheads and whiteheads are flushed out. It’s the absolute best for unclogging pores. The serum is oil-free and fragrance-free but can smell funny. And hey, it’s madly anti-aging!

Key Ingredients: Granactive retinoid
Size: 1 oz/ 30 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free, oil-free, alcohol-free

5. Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

You can either amplify your creams by mixing them with this or use the skin booster alone. Either way, the treatment eliminates congestion with the combination of azelaic acid and salicylic acid.

The lightweight, oil-free lotion gently exfoliates, clears up the skin, soothes inflammation, and prevents blemishes. It’s suitable for sensitive skin types too.

Key Ingredients: Azelaic acid, salicylic acid, allantoin
Size: 1 oz/ 30 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free, oil-free

6. Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum

Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum

This is an oil-free niacinamide toner. So it’s not going to exfoliate or uproot blackheads. But it does two things excellently. It reduces excess sebum and minimizes the look of pores instantly! The toner doubles as a serum. But because it’s super lightweight, you can layer other serums on top comfortably. No pilling!

It’s incredibly convenient for hydrating oily and acne-prone skin. Because dehydration causes excess oil, which leads to congestion. It also packs anti-inflammatory witch hazel and botanicals rich in vitamin C. It has a refreshing scent and leaves the skin super soft and smooth.

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, witch hazel
Size: 5 oz/ 150 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free, alcohol-free

7. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask

This is a rescue mask for pores and congested skin. It’s a natural bentonite clay mask in powder form you can mix with water or apple cider vinegar. The mask dries down and pulls dirt and grime from the pores.

With unclogged pores, the skin looks smoother. The cult-favorite mask is as affordable as it gets. So keeping one of these on your shelf is a practical way to calm down oily skin when you need instant results.

Key Ingredients: Bentonite clay
Size: 16 oz
Good To Know: Cruelty-free, vegan

8. Moon Juice Acid Potion AHA + BHA Resurfacing Exfoliator

Moon Juice Acid Potion Liquid Exfoliator - Best Products For Congested Skin

This AHA and BHA combo is a great exfoliator for congested skin. In addition to salicylic acid, it contains alpha-hydroxy acids. Lactic acid and glycolic acid remove the dead skin cells from the skin and prevent them from clogging your pores.

That’s how they help with blackheads and whiteheads. The liquid exfoliator refines the skin texture and brightens the skin too. It also has niacinamide for the added pore-minimizing benefits.

Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide
Size: 3.3 oz/ 100 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free

9. Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Toner

Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Toner - Best Products For Congested Skin

This is an exfoliating salicylic acid toner that will clear up those blackheads in no time. The best thing about this one is that it’s also anti-inflammatory for the skin. So it’ll help calm redness and inflammation from acne too. It also contains antioxidant-rich grape water and rose water to care for the skin.

It’s not very common for an acne toner to boost radiance and eliminate dullness. But this one leaves your skin instantly radiant. It’s not alcohol-free but it’s not skin-drying either. So it helps minimize the appearance of pores in addition to eliminating congested skin.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, rose water, grape water
Size: 6.7 oz/200 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free

10. Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips Combo Pack

Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips Combo Pack

Let’s be honest, while we all love a good facial treatment or a potent scrub to clear up congested skin, we also need quick fixes. And there’s nothing more satisfying than using a peel-off mask for removing blackheads and opening up the pores with a pore strip.

The strip sticks to your skin and draws out blackheads like a magnet without hurting or irritating the skin. Adding one of these into your routine can give you a headstart for clarifying the skin.

Key Ingredients: Witch hazel extract
Size: 14 strips

Tips For Managing Congested Skin

  • Pick one active ingredient and focus on that one. Don’t use too many active ingredients especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Be patient when cleansing your skin. Work the cleanser into the skin for about 60 seconds before rinsing. This is to ensure a thorough cleanse and prevent any trace of makeup from clogging pores.
  • Try double cleansing in the evening to remove stubborn products like sunscreen.
  • Add a cleansing brush to your routine. It’s going to be immensely helpful in purifying congested skin.
  • Invest in a one-time professional facial to get a headstart.
  • HydraFacial is the best facial for congested skin. Try it at least once.
  • Exfoliating pads are like pre-made toners. You can use them once a week to keep tabs on pores and stop congestion at its track.
  • Do a steam facial once a week to warm up the skin. Apply a clay mask afterward. Steam makes the mask work better to open up pores and unclog them.

This concludes our crash course on clogged pores and a round-up of the best products for congested skin. Congested skin, skin that’s dealing with one too many blackheads or blemishes is something we all deal with at some point.

It can be overwhelming too. But all it takes to clear out congestion is a good skincare routine followed consistently with the right products.

Read Next: Best Salicylic Acid Pads

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