What is it?
Dull, greasy skin with blackheads, whiteheads and enlarged pores

What causes it?
Excess oil production and a build up of dead skin cells
This can result from:
Comedogenic makeup and skincare
Inadequate cleansing
Humidity and pollution
Hormones and genetics

What treatments are available?
Chemical exfoliation with alpha and beta hydroxy acids
Products to reduce oil production including topical retinoids, salicylic acid and niacinamide

Skin congestion is a common concern, and usually refers to skin that looks dull and greasy, with enlarged pores, blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. 

Why does skin become congested?

Congestion results from the overproduction of oil by our sebaceous glands and a build up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. This can lead to the overgrowth of bacteria, and the development of open comedones (blackheads), closed comedones (whiteheads), enlarged pores, uneven skin texture and a dull appearance. 

Contributing factors include inadequate cleansing, comedogenic skincare products and makeup, environmental factors such as humidity and pollution, inadequate or excessive exfoliation, hormonal factors and genetics. 

How can I treat congestion?

Treatment includes avoiding comedogenic products, cleansing well and chemical exfoliation with alpha or beta hydroxy acids. Retinoids, salicylic acid and niacinamide may help reduce oil production.

Endly DC, Miller RA. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(8):49-55.




Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…