When it comes to skin health, no matter how cutting-edge the products you use, it really just boils down to the most basic of skin care: cleaning your pores and letting them breathe. Clogged pores start a cascade of skin problems that offset the benefits of cleansers, moisturizers, toners and a host of skin care products that aim to reverse aging.

Clogged pores invite oil and skin cells to collect in the follicle, creating a friendly environment for bacteria to thrive and cause inflammation. Worse, physical pressure – like squeezing – on inflamed pores makes them larger and paves the way for a vicious cycle of debris pile-up. Preventing pores from getting bigger while keeping them clean and free from blockage should be the foundation of your skin regimen.

This is because pores are the body's natural way to eliminate dead skin cells that constantly die inside the hair follicle. On top of that, sebum – a collection of fats, cholesterols, proteins and inorganic salts – travels up the hair follicle to exit through the pore. Since there is no other way out, the pores always need to be free from blockage to keep the skin functioning at its best; that is, protecting the entire body from bacteria, viruses and elements.

One simple way to let your pores breathe is to wash off each night or after every workout with gentle cleansers. If you have a particularly oily skin, products containing salicylic acid work excellently to minimize oil, open up pores and neutralize bacteria. You don't want, however, to over-dry your skin. Ensure optimal moisture content by applying moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid which binds water molecules unto the skin and stimulates collagen production (to prevent your skin from sagging).

From here, you can build a more sophisticated skin care regimen to help you deal better with age spots, wrinkles, puffiness and UV effects. Of course, cleansing can only go so far. You need to be diligent in other matters as well for a more holistic approach to maintaining healthy skin.

Beautiful skin is the foundation of beautiful make-up, and a glowing skin is your best fashion accessory. More importantly, healthy skin provides the first-line of defense against external invasion that could damage more than just your outer layer.