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Congested Skin: Meaning, Causes, Treatment, Prevention

How to get rid of clogged pores, congested skin & achieve smooth skin.

Congested skin is a common concern faced by all, especially teens and preteens with hyperactive oil glands, sweating and hormonal changes in their bodies. However, any one with oily, acne prone skin might face this concern. To put it simply, congested skin is nothing but a build up of dead cells, oil, and other toxins accumulated in our pores. It leaves our skin looking bumpy, dull and lifeless. Read on and hold on tight to glide through this bumpy ride.

What is Congested skin?

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    Congested skin can be identified by its rough, uneven texture caused by clogged pores. It makes the skin look bumpy, dull and lifeless. The main reason for skin to get congested is due to the presence of blackheads, whiteheads, open pores and acne. Here is how each one of them is formed:

    1.  Acne

    This is a broad category of different skin conditions including pimples, papules, nodules as well as blackheads and whiteheads. It occurs when bacteria begin to develop in the clogged pore along with dead skin cells, sebum, sweat and dirt. Read our article to learn all about acne and the 11 best ingredients for managing it.

    2. Blackheads

    The accumulation of oil, dirt and grime in the hair follicle causes tiny dark or black bumps to appear on the surface of our skin. When this is exposed to oxygen, it oxidises and turns black leading to blackheads. Check out our article on how to Drop those blackheads dead with simple tips and tricks.

    3. Whiteheads

    Whiteheads are very similar to blackheads as they are caused by the same reasons. However, whiteheads are closed pores which appear in a whitish cream colour. They are located under the skin and hence are not exposed to the air preventing the oxidation process to take place. Read more about it here.

    4. Keratosis Pilaris

    It can be developed by those experiencing an excess buildup of Keratin (that is Hair Protein). It looks like tiny bumps on the surface of the skin that gives it a rough texture. It is mainly caused when Keratin is being blocked by the skin when the hair follicle is growing and does not have an opening to sprout out.

    5.  Open Pores

    The main function of pores is to allow sweat, oil, and other toxins to escape through the skin while cooling it in the process. It is a vital part of healthy skin and while all pores are open, larger pores are more visible and therefore known as open pores. They can be caused due to acne, excess sebum, sun damage or even ageing. Open pores can attract dirt to settle in, read our article on 3 proven ways to minimise and manage open pores.

    What are the Causes of Congested Skin?

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      Congested skin is a sign of several incorrect factors in your skincare routine. The most prominent symptoms of congested skin are formation of whiteheads, blackheads and other forms of acne that make the skin look rough and uneven. To understand this, it is important to address its main causes as given below:

      1. Using Comedogenic Ingredients

      Though certain ingredients such as Coconut oil, Cocoa butter, Sodium Laureth Sulphate (commonly found in cleansing products like soaps and shampoos) make your skin feel soft and nourished they may clog your pores activating small, skin-coloured bumps known as comedones.

      2. Build up of Dead Skin Cells 

      One of the main culprits for congested skin is the accumulation of dead skin cells in the pit of the pores. This is common when the dead cells get trapped in the skin instead of fully shedding out, which can cause acne.

      3. Sweating

      Contrary to popular belief, sweat does not cause acne. This is because it flushes out the toxins out of your body and cools it down, so as long as you have clean skin before sweating, you should be in a safe zone. However, leaving sweat on without washing your face can attract dust and dirt to settle on the skin. This makes the skin sticky leading to sweat pimples.

      4.  Excess Oil Production

      Our body produces natural oils through the Sebaceous glands near the hair follicles to nourish and moisturise our skin. However, an overproduction of sebum combined with sweat, dirt, environmental pollutants and dead skin cells is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria causing acne.

      5. Improper Cleansing

      Using harsh cleansers or over cleansing, to remove excess sebum can strip away the essential oils. This can make our skin dry for which our body will produce more oil to naturally combat the dryness. On the other hand, not cleaning enough will leave residues of makeup dirt and oil. To escape this vicious cycle, choose the right cleanser for your skin type.

      How can you Treat Congested Skin?

      1. Double Cleansing

      Double cleaning for congested helps to gently unclog the pores with the first cleanser used to softens the grime followed by the second cleanser that works towards a particular concern such as providing hydration, treating acne or exfoliation. We recommend Coccoon Silk Appeal Cleansing Oil that helps to break down impurities and give your skin a deep cleanse followed by Coccoon Detoxifying Face Wash that removes impurities caught in pores with the power of French Red Clay, Vitamin C and Witch Hazel leaving you with fresh, hydrated and bright skin.


      This is an image of Coccoon Detoxifying Face Wash on


      Check out our article on how to Double Cleanse to learn more about it.

      2. Using Exfoliating Acids

      Removing dead skin cells gently, can stop pores from clogging. It controls breakouts and reduces visible signs of aging. Exfoliating acids such Salicylic and Glycolic penetrate into the skin and work by dissolving dead skin cells, dirt and oil. Neemli Naturals Glycolic and Salicylic Acid Serum is a great product to control bacteria and leave you with clearer, brighter and more radiant skin.

      This is a image of  Neemli Naturals Glycolic and Salicylic Acid Serum on

      Read more about Exfoliating Acids here.

      3.  Incorporate Chemical Peels

      Similar to acids, chemical peels work by breaking down layers of dead cells to improve skin texture and appearance. They stimulate the growth of newer cells and instantly revitalise the appearance of dull, congested, sun-damaged skin. We recommend using Aminu Instant Facial AHA Power Peel 2 to 3 times a week for that instinct facial lift. It is perfect for those looking to detoxify their skin in a safe manner using Natural Fruit AHAs, Vitamin E and a powerful antioxidant known as Malachite.  


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       2. Spot treatment for Blemishes

      Fading those brownish marks caused by acne take forever to clear up. These spots get lighter over time and may take anytime between 6 to 24 weeks to vanish completely. Martiderm DSP- Bright 30 Ampoules | 5% Vitamin C | Depigmentation is perfect for those targeting dark spots, pigmentation acne scars and blemishes. It is infused with Vitamin C that brightens, Phytic Acid to shed off dead skin and Tranexamic Acid to fight discolouration. On the other hand check out Organic Riot Zap- Anti Acne Serum to fight active acne. It is a light, invisible serum that silently works in the background to banish pimples and acne and permanently deal with those occasional blemishes.


      This is an image of Martiderm DSP- Bright 30 Ampoules | 5% Vitamin C | Depigmentation on


        3. Minimise Large Pores

        Large pores are a sign of increased oil production that causes acne. While you cannot shrink large pores, you can definitely make them appear smaller by using Martiderm Proteos Liposome | Reduce and Refine Pores. This contains Glycolic Witch Hazel Extract helping tissues to contract to reduce visibility of pores along with 3% Vegan Proteoglycan to repair skin and enhance turnover of fatty acids to improve plumpness.


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        4.  Use Ice Treatment

        Congested skin can aggravate acne though inflammatory reactions. Using ice can cool down the skin, skin pores and control oil production. Isa Ice Therapy and Sachet Refills are great products to tighten pores, detoxify the skin and reduce acne through improved blood circulation.


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        Read more about the newest and coolest treatment Ice Therapy and its benefits here.

         5. Apply a Charcoal Mask

        Charcoal is embodied with antibacterial properties that draws out bacteria from the pores that treats the formation of pimples and acne. Using the Enn’s Closet Black Fri-Yay Mask 1 to 2 times a week will suck out impurities stuck deep within and get rid of all skin impurities and blackheads.


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        What Can you do to Prevent it?

        1. Use Clay Masks Regularly

         Clay masks are used to purify the skin by drawing out impurities like a magnet without dehydrating the skin of its moisture. It absorbs the excess oil and prevents pore clogging. Our go to mask to remove toxins is the Ilana Organics Clarifying Clay Mask (Seaweed + Charcoal).This is an image of Ilana Organics Clarifying Clay Mask (Seaweed   Charcoal) on

         2. Avoid Heavy Makeup

        We believe in following a minimalistic approach when it comes to makeup for everyday wear. This does not mean no makeup at all, however those with sensitive acne-prone skin might want to switch up that full coverage Instagram makeup routine. Makeup may accumulate in our pores, aggravate acne and cause irritation, especially if you forget to take it off before bed.

        3. Avoid Thick, Comedogenic Products

        These are ingredients that do not get easily absorbed and settle in the pit of our pores. Using thick products on oily skin can cause skin to develop bumps and clogged pores. The thickest moisturiser or heaviest sunscreen does not necessarily guarantee better results and can do more harm than good.

        4. Use Exfoliating Toner

         Similar to exfoliating acids, these toners contain AHAs and BHAs to dissolve impurities, and encourage newer cells to form. The main difference is that most exfoliating toners contain less that 5% of acid and are safe to use every day. Dear, Klairs Daily Skin Softening Water is suitable for hypersensitive skin to remove excess oil without having to use scrubs that can be harsh on sensitive skin.


        This is an image of Dear, Klairs Daily Skin Softening Water on


        5. Balanced Diet and Exercise

        The age long beauty secret to beautiful skin boils down to maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating, sleeping and exercising correctly. Consume foods like nuts, fish, eggs and seeds and reduce daily intake to prevent clogged pores. Exercising can remove toxins from the body through sweat while getting a good 8-hour of beauty sleep is key to flawless skin.


          Exfoliation is the key to prevention. Blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and other forms of acne are a part of life! Rather than fighting your skin on it, it would be better to target it at its root cause at a nascent stage. Uneven texture can be combated if the right tips and tricks are followed thoroughly. Now that you have a comprehensive guide, go fight that bumpy ride! 

          - Howrah Lookhmanji

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