Yep, you read that right. Pore congestion is the result of dehydrated skin.
Period. End of story.
But you don’t believe me yet, so keep reading.
Remember learning in science class that our skin is our biggest organ of detoxification? Well, now that fun fact is relevant to your adult self!
When skin is healthy and functioning properly, it naturally releases tiny pockets of puss (AKA whiteheads)–—eww, sounds gross, I know! But it happens naturally and uneventfully to anyone with healthy skin, as a daily part of our body’s elimination processes.
Not only that, but our skin naturally produces oil as a way to maintain our delicate acid mantle barrier.
The acid wha?? From good ol’ Wikipedia:
“The acid mantle is a very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of human skin acting as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin. It is secreted by sebaceous glands.”
When skin is hydrated and soft, our pores release natural sebaceous oil without any problem or issue—maintaining our acid mantle and nourishing our skin with its very own, very precious oil—perfectly created just for you.
But when we over scrub and over cleanse, use astringents, pore tightening masks, oil-free moisturizer, and all the “pore minimizing” products out there…skin gets dehydrated.
When our skin becomes dehydrated, the pore canals dry out like raisins. The sebaceous oil gets stuck, starts to harden, and eventually turns into blackheads.
And when oil gets trapped in the skin, white blood cells go there and create a tiny puss pocket. When these can’t be simply released, they will continue to stay there and harden over time…for years…turning into milia.
Over time, these 2 most common types of skin congestion:
- blackheads, and
will each grow independently in size, or make combinations of each other over time:
- Black heads that can lead to milia pockets underneath or
- Milia pockets that develop blackheads on top.
Gross. Keep reading for how to fix this.
Dehydrated skin is clogged skin. Clogged skin is dehydrated skin.
When skin is dehydrated and its precious acid mantle barrier is disrupted, the sebaceous gland goes into overdrive in an attempt to rehydrate our skin. The sole purpose of this oil is to move out through the pores and remain liquid to spread across our skin and prevent water from evaporating.
Scrubs, astringents, pore tighteners….are actually making everything worse. Your skin produces more oil, but the oil can’t get out because the skin is dehydrated and becoming more clogged, meaning skin gets even more dehydrated, initiating more sebaceous gland production…lather, rinse, repeat.
Oil & Water, like PB&J.
The only way to prevent water from evaporating from your skin is to trap it underneath an oil-rich moisturizer. Yes, oil is THE KEY to plump, moist, hydrated, clear skin. What creates moist skin is the right balance between water AND oil. Both are absolutely crucial to balanced, healthy skin. Oil and water work together like peanut butter and jelly, like the Moon and the Sun, like the bubbles to the hot bath, like the gravy to the mashed potatoes, like a smile to my face, like the wind to the kite…you get the idea!
Oil is not the enemy–—oil is your friend. Yes, even, and especially, if you get breakouts. Part of the reason why you get breakouts is because your skin is actually dehydrated and in sebaceous oil production overdrive.
Repeat after me: “Oil is my friend. Oil is my friend. Oil is my friend.” I’m repeating this because I really want you to get it!
My advice? Go to your bathroom RIGHT NOW and throw out your oil-free moisturizer. Stick to oil-RICH moisturizers, or even (pro-tip here) go into your kitchen and use a fresh (not rancid!) organic oil—coconut oil works GREAT.
Spray some rosewater on freshly, gently cleansed skin and slather a bit of coconut oil or oil-rich moisturizer on. Let it soak in for a few minutes before massaging in thoroughly.
And stay tuned for my future post which goes into detail on the precise, simple skincare steps for healthy, hydrated skin.
(Now, protecting your skin from sun becomes another conversation…I don’t want you running outside in the sun with coconut oil and no SPF!)