This Simple Cleansing Mistake Was Clogging My Pores Like Crazy

Photo: Paley Fairman

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. As far as clogged pores are concerned, I believe the word insanity applies to me.

Here's what happened: In mid-December, I had my first-ever facial appointment with esthetician-to-the-stars Shani Darden. By the time I showed up, my T-zone was speckled with blackheads, my chin was bumpy, and I had a glaring lump of milia on the tip of my schnoz that made me look like Rudolph the white-nosed reindeer. "I don't know why my skin looks like this!" I lamented as Darden flicked on her bright light. Except yes, I did, and Darden reminded me of something: I had been cleansing my combination skin all wrong.

All those icky clogged pores were caused my mistakes I had made before, then slipped back into the second my skin hit a clear period. (Why do we sabotage ourselves like that? Too much optimism? Too much ego?) Cleansing is usually the step where I go wrong because amid all the exciting serums, masks, and moisturizers, it's the part of our skincare routines that we (or at least I) often pay the least attention to. "Many people with combination skin just don't think that a cleanser is where their money should be spent. … Their cleanser is kind of an afterthought," explains Renée Rouleau, Hollywood's other favorite facialist. "But the proper cleanser can make or break your routine. You never want to start off your routine already putting your skin into an unhealthy state. What you cleanse your face with is actually the most important part of your skincare routine."

So… to help my fellow combination skin types avoid unnecessary clogged pores, I spoke with Darden, Rouleau, and New York City dermatologist Rachel Nazarian for advice. Keep reading for six cleansing mistakes you might be making (and how to fix them).