Clogged Pores On The Nose: 6 Do's & Don'ts For Treating Them

mbg Beauty Director By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director. Previously she worked at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
young woman in studio monochromatic

young woman in studio monochromatic

Image by TIARRA SORTE / Stocksy

The nose seems to be the hot spot for clogged pores, right? Even the most diligent of skin care fans among us likely have a few clogged spots there—and keep returning, and returning, and returning. People go to pretty great lengths to get rid of them (see any Reddit or blackhead-popping post on Instagram. Yikes). The endless content around getting rid of the clogs in this little bit of facial real estate really does make you wonder: Can anything be done?

Here, we rounded up all the do's and don'ts of treating the precious pores on your nose. 

Why you get more clogged pores on the nose.

You're not imagining it: The nose tends to be more prolific in its oil production. This boils down to the simple fact that the pores there are larger—as are the sebaceous glands underneath the skin. (This is especially true if you are someone with combination skin or have a shiny T-zone.) Unfortunately, there's really nothing to be done about this fact. It is what it is! However, "Often by purifying the pores, you can diminish their appearance," holistic esthetician Britta Plug says about tightening pores

And while your clogged pores may take the form of blackheads, they may also be sebaceous filaments. "Sebaceous filaments are naturally occurring tiny collections of sebum that are part of the pore structure," says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. "They line the inside of the pores and assist in the flow of sebum along the lining into the skin to help moisturize it." And while these tend to be not noticeable elsewhere, they can be on your nose because of the pore size and oil production. While the appearance of these may be annoying, they are actually totally normal. 

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Do: Use salicylic acid

While both alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids are beneficial chemical exfoliators, BHAs (like salicylic acid) work better for tempering oil production. BHAs are lipophilic, meaning they deal with oil and fat, which your sebum is. "It is able to penetrate the skin deeper into pores to help remove dead skin cells, fight bacteria, and control excess sebum," says board-certified dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, M.D. As she notes, salicylic acid is also found to be antibacterial, making it particularly effective for acne-prone individuals, as it not only dissolves excess oil, but it targets the acne-causing bacteria building up in the pores. This is ideal if your clogged pores often turn into breakouts. 

Don't: Use pore strips 

I know they look fun on social media, but stay away. As board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., has previously told mbg, they can cause irritation if you're not super careful. "The adhesive can traumatize the skin, so be sure to use them carefully and follow the instructions," she says. And sure, peeling off a pore strip might feel pretty satisfying, but they don't actually do anything to stop those blackheads from dusting your nose. "Pore strips can temporarily remove top layers of dead skin cells, but they won't do anything to prevent the buildup of blackheads," King adds. 

Do: Multi-mask

A much safer alternative to pore strips is multi-masking, and it's just as fun. The concept's pretty straightforward. Rather than slathering that oil-absorbing clay or charcoal mask all over, just slather on the nose (you can add the cheeks and forehead if you get greasy there too). As for the rest of the face, you can swap in a hydrating, soothing, brightening, or whatever kind of mask you'd like. We love this idea because you don't have to cover otherwise dry or sensitive skin with a mask that may end up causing further irritation: Just treat the areas in need!

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Don't: Squeeze

You may be tempted to squish the gunk out of your pores—stop right there. "Please, do not do any facial surgery," says board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., FAAD. If it is a blackhead or clogged pore, you run the risk of pushing the oil deeper into the pore, prolonging your healing process. If it's a sebaceous filament, you can inflame the skin over something that's actually part of the normal pore structure. Either way: Not what you want for your skin. 

Do: Hydrate your skin

Often when we have excess oil, its root cause is the fact that your skin is actually dry and your pores are in overdrive trying to course correct. This is remedied by—wait for it—keeping your skin hydrated. It's an obvious tip but worth reminding ourselves that our skin is happiest when it's moisturized. Not to mention, you can find plenty of delightful and moisturizing botanicals that simultaneously work on oil control. "Niacinamide and green tea also have data with decreasing oil production," says board-certified dermatologist Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D.

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Don't: Over-wash & strip the skin

A similar point to above but worth pointing out on its own. Often, people with oily skin wash their face more. If you wash correctly with gentle cleansers, this doesn't need to be a bad thing. However, by regularly stripping the skin with strong surfactants, acids, or—gasp—abrasive physical exfoliators, you're damaging the barrier and the pores themselves. This triggers the skin to produce more oil to help hydrate and form a protective oil barrier over the skin. 

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