Best Exfoliator for Clogged Pores – Kathy’s Top 5 Reviews

Beauty marketers and beauty gurus often trick you into buying gimmick skincare products by heavily editing advertisements.

Our skin consists of three primary layers, and the surface layer is Epidermis. Once there are open pores in the Epidermis, you can’t shrink those but keep them clean to appear smaller.

Clogged pores are one of the core reasons for acne, blackheads, and excess sebum production, resulting in rough-textured skin. No product can result in getting smooth, poreless skin overnight.

You’ll always have texture on your skin, but you can follow a skincare routine that consists of exfoliants.

Youtube is full of DIYs using kitchen ingredients as exfoliants. In reality, these ingredients are very harsh on the skin.

So, to find out the best exfoliator for clogged pores, we’ve teamed up with the best dermatologists and have dived deep to find you the right one according to your skin needs below. 

Who are we?


We independently conduct beauty-related reviews with the help of a team with experience in the beauty & skincare industry.

We believe in staying true to our readers. So we research and experiment with products for months before recommending them to you.

Our editors occasionally consult with a dermatologist to share the best products according to your skin condition.

But it is also advised that if you have a severe medical skin condition, please consult with your doctor before trying out any product from our review.

Please check out our other reviews for more beauty-related information. 

Does exfoliating get rid of clogged pores?

Exfoliation is an essential part of any skincare routine. Dermatologists recommend exfoliating at least once a week to get rid of the skin’s dead skin cells.

One of the core reasons for clogged pores is blackheads and acne. Blackheads are very difficult to get rid of because it is the layer of dead cells plying up for the lack of exfoliation.

If you don’t exfoliate regularly, even if you have a great routine, chances are the dead cells will clog your open pores. Unclogged pores prevent acne before it even appears. 

Skin experts have reported that weekly exfoliation leads to increased radiance and youthfulness of skin.

Also, your serum moisturizer will penetrate deeper into your skin if you have a regular exfoliation habit.

Dead cells are a barrier between the products and your skin, so it’s easier to soak when the border is gone.

The reason is that exfoliation removes dead cells, which always keeps pores unclogged, resulting in deep penetration into your skin. The final result is an even glowy skin. 

What is the best exfoliator for clogged pores?

Physical, chemical, and mechanical; there are three types of exfoliators tailored to different skin. Skin is a personalized issue, so what might be best for one might not be best for you.

Also, different skin types have different needs. Physical exfoliators are the most popular types of exfoliators.

These types of exfoliators have microbeads that help to remove any dead cells and make your skin even-toned with gradual use.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Facial Cleanser is an excellent physical exfoliator and face wash for all skin types. 

It is moving to chemical exfoliators, which are now on trend due to the skin influencers. These exfoliators are enzymes and active acid products that give an exfoliating effect to the skin.

These remove the protein among the fur. This ultimately results in the removal of dead cells.

Paulas Choice-SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant is the best chemical exfoliator for clogged pores by our research.

It suits every type of skin, and the BHA makes the skin glowy and clean. 

Which type of exfoliant can reach deepest into your pores?

Chemical Exfoliators are active acid-based, so when you apply it to your face, it breaks down the protein between your dead cells and skin surface.

People who have cystic acne might experience the effect in a slower period. It is because it takes time for the chemical exfoliator to unclog the pores.

After opening the pore, chemical exfoliants can penetrate the layers of your skin and absorb deep down on your skin pores.

But there are weak and robust formulas; if you’re a beginner, we suggest going with Paulas Choice-SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant.

The main ingredients of chemical exfoliants are AHA, BHA, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is a cheap dupe to the Paulas Choice one.

If you want a more gentle option, check out the COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner. 

How do you exfoliate deep pores?

Many of us tried to exfoliate using those DIYs like lemon juice, baking soda, sugar, and what not!

You’ll see gimmick techniques to exfoliate your deep pores in different Tik Tok videos, Youtube beauty gurus, Instagram influencers, and, of course, beauty websites.

The best way to deeply exfoliate your pores is using chemical exfoliators that have a balance of AHA & BHA.

As you already know what these ingredients are and how they work, you just need to add them to your skincare routine simply. 

Exfoliation should be part of your skincare routine; it alone can’t clean your pores. But while using a chemical exfoliator, you have to change your way slightly.

First of all, go with a gentle cleanser; if your cleaner has Salicylic Acid already, then you might not need to use extra exfoliants.

Because products with salicylic acid and Glycolic acid are a toner or face wash, they are a light exfoliant. Use a hydrating face mask and moisturizer afterward whether you’ve oily skin to seal the moisture. 

What is the best pore-cleansing mask?

We’re sure you’ve instantly thought of a charcoal peel-off mask; we have to stop you there.

While these charcoal masks give you instant effect, it does nothing but draws out blackheads/whiteheads on the surface.

After a few days pass, you’ll notice you see acne or blackheads again. The solution is to use a clay mask and sheet mask to get the ultimate clean pores.

Your skin requires hydration and deep cleanse at the same time. Karuna Clarifying + Facial Sheet Mask is one of the best face masks for deep pore hydration, and it’s popular among various celebrities. 

Korean skincare industry undoubtedly makes the most effective mask for cleaning deep pores. Our favorite pick is the Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask because it has AHA.

We can not get over how beautiful this mask works for clogged skin. First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask is an excellent option for those who have sensitive skin. 

How can I unclog my pores naturally?

Some might think using all-natural products is better than using chemical products for the skin.

We’ve said it previously, and we’ll repeat it using kitchen ingredients for skin might look suitable for the short term, but it will show side effects on your skin in a long time.

You should choose a healthy long-term option for youthful skin. 

Investing in skin today will result in good-looking skin in your 40s, and if you are in your 40s, all-natural ingredients should be a big NO-NO.

But not all natural ingredients are harmful; Honey, for instance, is an excellent option for keeping pores hydrated naturally. Our suggestion is to take a 3 to 4-minute steam on your face to open your pores. 

Then apply a natural honey and raw aloe vera gel mixture mask. After keeping it for twenty minutes, rinse it off with cold water to close the pores.

Use it once a week, Honey, but we won’t recommend that you go all-natural instead of spending a few dimes and buying affordable skincare products. 

Does charcoal mask minimize pores? 

Charcoal is a famous skincare incident from ancient times. The preparatory work is activated charcoal, a toxic magnet that attracts dirt and impurities and settles deep inside pores.

So, when you use an activated charcoal mask, it draws all the impurities from your skin and makes your clogged pores unclogged.

It cleans the surface-level pores, but it doesn’t work for deep cleaning the pores. Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Honey Mask and Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Clay Mask + Scrub are great charcoal mask options. 

Pollution is everywhere thanks to the carelessness of humans, and invisible toxins can quickly dissolve into your skin.

Activated charcoal can detox your skin from those contaminants and unclog pores for decreasing sebum production.

Any kind of activated charcoal-infused mask can work as an ideal treatment for cleaning pores. Charcoal can also draw out excess oil and remove unnecessary dirt that is blocking your pores. 

How do I clean out my pores?

We’ve consulted with different dermatologists and brought out the best ways to clean your pore.

1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser: Throw out your harsh face wash and switch to a gentle cleanser. Your cleaner is not supposed to dry out the natural oils of your face, even if you have super oily skin. 

2. Exfoliate: Switch to a gentle yet effective physical or chemical exfoliator every once a week so that there’s no way left for dead cells to appear. 

3. Face mask: Pop up a detox clay max or sheet mask once in a while. Do not use a clay max regularly; instead, use it twice a week highest. While a clay mask will soak all the dirt from deep into your pores, the sheet masks will give your skin proper hydration. 

4. Moisturize: You must moisturize even if you have oily skin. Yes, you’ve heard that right. There are lots of moisturizers according to different skin types out on the market.

Our Top 3 Recommendation

How we picked these five products?

Before suggesting these five products to you, we’ve independently researched about exfoliants. These brands do not sponsor us.

We’ve picked these products based on our research, ingredients analysis & customer review.

However, some products might not suit you as every skin is different, so we’ll suggest maintaining rules while using any recommended products.

Please make sure to do a patch test first before applying it to your entire face. For in detailed review, please check down below. 

1.Karuna Clarifying + Facial Sheet Mask

Sheet masks are one of the must-haves when it comes to preparing for exfoliation.

Before removing your skin’s dead cells, you’ll need to moisturize, and the best way for instant moisturization is Karuna Clarifying + Facial Sheet Mask.

Karuna has been making one of the best sheet masks for the face and even hands for years. Let’s look below to know more in detail.


Say BYE to clogged pores

Karuna picks up the best ingredients and makes the best of best sheets for your face. This facial sheet mask has Arctium Lappa Root, Honey Extract, and also Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice.

Arctium Lappa is a dynamic gradient that helps clean out the dead cells on the skin’s surface. Ultimately the combination results in fresh and unclogged pores.


These masks are customized, targeting specific skin conditions. If you use the show regularly, you’ll get rid of the clogged pores problem within a month at least once a week.

Karuna Clarifying + Facial Sheet Mask has a main ingredient of honey; honey is a natural ingredient that calms down irritated skin. Also, there’s a ginger extract that helps to tone down uneven skin tone. 

Does it remove clogged pores?

No matter what, any brand promises clean and smooth skin within one week or one hour; the truth will always be that it takes time for the skin to heal.

Karuna Clarifying + Facial Sheet Mask oil-free moisturizer formula provides 50% more moisturizing than regular masks.

The moisture factor of the show ultimately will result in glowy & healthy skin. 

2. Obagi Medical CLENZIderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Acne Face Wash 

One of the significant reasons for clogged pores is acne and the zit it creates. Salicylic Acid helps to exfoliate and get rid of any pre-occurring acne and calms the face.

Obagi Medical CLENZIderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Acne Face Wash is an excellent face wash to get the cleanest skin.


Daily care

Obagi foaming face wash is a holy grail product for people who have acne-prone oily skin. Usually, all-natural, excellent acne-prone skin tends to capture more dirt and oil to their skin.

This ultimately results in clogged pores and stops the sebum production of the skin.

Obagi foaming face wash has 2% Salicylic Acid which reaches the bacteria in the pores and works immediately to calm down any active acne. 

Treat acne

Acne is a prominent reason for clogging pores, and the way to get rid of it is a Salicylic based foaming face wash.

The face wash penetrates deep into your closed pores and then loosens the dead cells of the skin.

Your redness and inflammation will reduce if you continuously use Obagi Medical CLENZIderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Acne Face Wash in morning and night.

Does it remove clogged pores?

Some of its users have reported that this face wash is a lifesaver for them. It is their solid cystic acne and results in beautiful, healthy skin in the shortest time.

So, the answer is a definite yes; it does remove clogged pores. However, beware do some patch tests first and applying an oil-free nourishing moisturizer afterward to avoid dryness. 

3. Replenix Gly-Sal 10-2 Clarifying Acne Pads

The worst kind of acne is that acne that pops up right before any significant event. We’ve been there; we understand your struggle.

Replenix Gly-Sal 10-2 Clarifying Acne Pads are overnight magical solutions to get rid of that stubborn acne of yours. 


Spot treatment

We’ve talked about salicylic acid before and Replenix Gly-Sal 10-2 Clarifying Acne Pad is another product that contains 2% salicylic acid.

You need to open the acne pad, place it right where your active pimple is, and keep it overnight.

The 10% pure glycolic acid and infused witch hazel dry out the zit of the acne. It results in dryness resulting in minimization of the acne. 

Effective and affordable

There are thousands of acne pads on the market. Still, Replenix Gly-Sal 10-2 Clarifying Acne Pads wins the competition for their effective results.

It is also less pricey than the Korean skincare on-trend. The acne pad has strong AHA due to glycolic acid, which results in exfoliating dead skin cells.

Where salicylic acid calms down the breakout, glycolic acid fades the hyperpigmentation created afterward. This ultimately results in clean, smooth skin in the morning. 

Does it remove clogged pores?

“Replenix Gly-Sal 10-2 Clarifying Acne Pads is my secret weapon for fighting my acne! The holy grail of my skin” quoted by a customer who has been using these pads for seven years.

These acne pads don’t only drain out your acne, but you can also put makeup on them. The acids unclogged even the stubbornest pores and hydrated dry skin immediately.

Whatever moisturizer you will soak in quickly even after you use these acne pads.

4. Paulas Choice-SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant

If you’ve been following skincare influencers and dermatologist youtube channels, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Paulas Choice-SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant.

Paulas Choice is already a well-known brand for its amazing serums and moisturizers. In short, it’s skincare products. 


Chemical exfoliator

Chemical exfoliators are now trending in the market. Paulas Choice-SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant is one of the best out there. It has 2% Beta hydroxy acid, which helps to minimize any large pores.

As a result, you’ll get fresh skin overnight. Paulas Choice has BHA, which is friendly yet gentle on oily acne-prone skin. Get rid of blackheads by replacing physical exfoliators with this one. 

Cult favorite

We’re pretty sure if you’re a skincare nerd that you’ve heard about Paulas Choice BHA exfoliator. It is practically the best exfoliator for clogged pores out on the market, and Cult-favorite worth the hype.

The exfoliant feels like in between a serum and oil, making the texture amazingly light. But beware of the purging because some might have sensitive, oily skin.

Besides oily skin, every type of skin can use it even if they have hormonal acne, 

Does it remove clogged pores?

Paulas Choice-SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant is a dermatologist-recommended product.

Various famous dermatologist YouTubers like Dr. Sherenne Idriss, Dr. Sam Bunting, and  Dr. Vanita Rattan have highly suggested these exfoliants for extremely mild clogged pore issues.

The green tea extract of the exfoliants clears the pores and also provides visibly wrinkle-free skin. 

5. Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Facial Cleanser

Buying skincare can be costly from time to time; if you want clear skin but on a budget, check out the Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Facial Cleanser.

It is a cleanser that has exfoliating ingredients that do two work at one time. 



One of the significant problems physical exfoliants have is that they are too harsh on the skin resulting in clogged pores.

There’s where Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Facial Cleanser stands out from the rest. The soap-free formula makes sure that it cleanses out all the extra oil and grime from your face. 

It also has two primary ingredients to fight acne these are glycolic acid and salicylic acid. 

Elastic skin

Neutrogena is a renowned brand that creates the best products for skincare. The same goes for this exfoliant cleanser, and the microbeads help remove the most muscular dead cells.

So, the skin produces less sebum making the surface smooth and glowy. It is for every skin type, and people can use it regularly.

There’s an alpha-hydroxy formula that penetrates through the skin and makes rough skin gentle. 

Does it remove clogged pores?

Washing your face is the first step of a proper skincare routine. If you put this facewash on your daily routine, you’ll eventually get unclogged, uneven, and smooth skin.

The product is noncomedogenic, so you don’t need to worry about purging. It doesn’t work as fast as the Paulas Choice one, but this is a great option if you’re on a budget.

Buying Guide

To buy the most suitable exfoliator for your clogged pores, keep the following factors on your mind:

Skin type: Dry, combination, oily or sensitive skin, whatever you have, it is essential to choose the right kind of exfoliant according to your use;

we recommend BHA-based exfoliators and scrubs with ingredients like charcoal, papaya, and orange peels for oily skin.

In case of dry, sensitive skin, try exfoliators like DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator.

Physical or Chemical: We’ve already mentioned above the difference between these two types of exfoliators.

Both of the types of exfoliators have their advantages. But for sensitive skin, we’ll recommend you to go for a mild-strength chemical exfoliator. 

Usage & Budget: Some exfoliators are for daily use, and some are for weekly use. The more decadent and crafted the ingredients are, the heavier the price goes.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is an affordable chemical exfoliator for every skin type. 


Exfoliation is an important step and routine for our skin. You can go for DIYs or choose our best exfoliator for clogged pores suggestions, but the choice ultimately depends on your needs.

If you have a severe problem, then consider going for dermapiling or chemical peels under professional supervision.

But introducing an exfoliant into your skin will change your skin forever, that’s for sure.

In case you face a terrible or allergic reaction, immediately consult a dermatologist for a solution. Also, don’t forget the golden rule, “Don’t go overboard with exfoliation.”

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