What Is The White Stuff Coming Out Of Skin Pores? Answered!

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Have you ever tried looking closely at your pores? Did you ever find hard white grains sticking out of them, or white gunk? You’re not alone, because this can happen to anyone. Some people want to get rid of them, while others don’t really care much about them.

What is the white stuff coming out of skin pores?

They could be hard sebum plugs, keratin plugs, or milia, or potentially a mixture of the three.

It’s understandable that you want to get rid of this to achieve smoother, better-looking skin. But before we help you get rid of them, let us first discuss what they are. Later on, we’ll also tell you if you really need to do something about them or if it is best to just let them be.


What Is The White Stuff Coming Out Of Skin Pores?

The hard white grains you see in your pores aren’t all the same. They can be caused by a variety of factors. In some cases, you may not have just one type but multiple types. The common issues are Hard Sebum Plugs, Keratin Plugs, and Milia.

Let’s break down each of these. Below are the common grain-like substances that you see on the pores.

1. Hard Sebum Plugs

Sebaceous Gland

What Are Sebum Plugs?

The pores on our skin are connected to the sebaceous gland, which is responsible for producing sebum. When we think about sebum, we might immediately think of pimples. But sebum is very useful, too, because it keeps the skin moist and lubricated.

However, due to air exposure, the sebum can dry out and harden. When more sebum is produced, the hardened part also gets pushed upwards. This dries it out even more and this is what you can see as hard white grains on the pores.

Sometimes it looks like white strings coming out of pores. It can even occur around the eyebrows, beard, etc.

How To Get Rid Of Hard Sebum Plugs

One of the things you can do is to use apply jojoba oil to them. Rubbing this over the area helps loosen the hardened sebum. Jojoba oil is best because it is very similar to the skin’s natural sebum.

This makes it much easier to mix with the sebum on the pores and it keeps the skin moisturized too just like what natural sebum does.

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Aah, the Magic of Steam!

Another way to tackle sebum plugs is by using a facial steamer. These devices mist your pores with steam, loosening them, and restoring your healthy skin.

2. Keratin Plugs

What Are Keratin Plugs?

Keratin is an important protein for the skin. It binds the skin cells together to create a barrier that protects against the environment. Although useful, too much keratin can also clog the pores.

Similar to sebum, the keratin can also react with air, which can cause it to dry up to form whitish particles that some characterize as grains of salt.

How To Get Rid Of Excess Keratin

One way to get rid of excess keratin is to exfoliate the skin. Some suggest getting a clean piece of cloth and rubbing it gently against the area. This is not an instant fix but by doing it regularly, you can reduce the keratin deposits and gradually reduce the white grainy bumps.

3. Milia


What Is Milia?

There are also cases when you can’t really see the white bump but simply feel it. Milia are usually described as tiny, hard bumps on the skin. Some refer to them as tiny whiteheads but you just can’t squeeze them out.

Milia is similar to a keratin plug. However, unlike the keratin plug that gets pushed out of the pores, the keratin involved in forming the milia didn’t reach the surface of the skin. That’s why skin cells just grow over them, essentially covering them.

Milia is common around the eyes and nose.

How To Get Rid Of Milia

Some don’t really bother removing milia because they are not really noticeable unless someone really inspects your face. It naturally goes away, but it can take time for up to six months. Also, some suggest taking in vitamin A, as it is known to have effects in regulating keratin.

How To Get Rid Of Skin Plugs

Skin plugs aren’t only white in color. Some can be yellowish, skin-colored, dark brown or black. Nevertheless, removing them can help prevent pimples. Clogged pores that get infected turn into pimples or acne.

Prevent that through the following:

1. Regularly Cleanse Your Face

The simplest thing you can do to help get rid of and prevent skin plugs is to make sure your face is clean. Regular washing with a mild cleanser or micellar water helps prevent dirt and other buildups from forming on the face.

It also helps prevent the pores from being clogged and being infected.

And remember, ensure that your makeup isn’t contributing to your problems.

2. Exfoliate Your Skin

Foreo Luna Facial Brush

Exfoliating the skin can help remove the dead skin cells in the body. This will prevent buildup on the skin to prevent further clogging and infection of the pores. There are a few products available today such as a sonic facial brush like the Foreo Luna silicone brush for manual exfoliation.

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Similarly, you can also try chemical exfoliation by using products that contain gentle acids like lactic acid, AHA, BHA, PHA, etc. Exfoliants like the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, The Ordinary Peeling Solution, and Sunday Riley Goode Genes Lactic Acid are some of the crowd’s favorites.

3. Microdermabrasion

Trophy Skin RejuvadermMD

Microdermabrasion is a process often conducted by dermatologists, but many home microdermabrasion machines and derma-rollers have become popular recently. It doesn’t only remove the plugs on your pores, it also helps make your pores appear smaller.

Microdermabrasion is a resurfacing procedure that removes the dead cells on the topmost skin layer to reveal younger-looking skin that’s free of dirt.

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Nowadays, there are already machines like the Trophy Skin RejuvadermMD or MicrodermMD Machine (reviewed here) available online for you to order and use. Just make sure you take precautionary measures while using them because you never want to overdo it. Make sure you know what you are doing before trying it out.

Final Thoughts

Hard white grains sticking out of the skin are typically plugs in the pores. They can be due to sebum or keratin, both of which are normally found on the skin. When it blocks the pores and gets exposed to the air, it can harden and plug the pores.

The problem with plugged pores is the risk of developing acne. This is why you should try to prevent or get rid of the clog before it gets too bad. There are a few ways to do that including regularly washing the face with a gentle cleanser, exfoliating through physical or chemical methods, and microdermabrasion.

Whatever method you choose, it is best to proceed with caution and not overdo it. Too much can backfire and cause other worse problems on your face. Learn to take care of your face in the first place so that clogged pores are minimized.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).