Pores. We all got ‘em.
Whether you have diminutive tiny pores or larger more noticeable ones, when it comes to our complexions most of us would rather they disappear.
So, the age-old question remains:
Spoiler: No. (Sorry.)
Pore size is predetermined by genetics. Meaning, you’re born with your pores being the size that they are.
Other factors include skin type (how much oil your skin produces) and how much collagen is included in the structure of your skin.
If you think you’re the only one staring into a magnifying mirror and obsessing about pore size, you’re not.
Pores are becoming an increasing concern when it comes to skincare.
In a study of over 2,000 adults conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of L’Oreal Paris, nearly half of women (45%) wish they could change the size of their pores, and 28% are more concerned about pore size than wrinkles.
Looks like a lot of us are thinking about pore size.
The good news? While you can’t permanently shrink the actual size of your pores, you can certainly make them look smaller on the surface.
Today, we’re going to explore some ways that we can care for and treat our pores so we don’t have to entertain the thought of trading smooth legs for flawless skin!
The Dirt on Pores
Pores are actually the openings of hair follicles. In each pore is a sebaceous gland which produces oil, or sebum, your skin’s natural moisturizer and protector.
Your pores might be more apparent on the areas of your face that produce more oil such as your forehead, chin, and around your nose. This is because these pores contain larger sebaceous glands.
This also explains why pores might be more noticeable on oily skin types and appear smaller on dry skin types.
So, what causes enlarged pores?
There are a few factors that contribute to our pores looking larger or more noticeable.
Excess oils, dirt and dead skin cells can get trapped in pores resulting in blemishes and pores appearing larger. When this stuck gunk oxidizes, it gets dark and blackheads are born which is just a big look-at-me for pores.
As we get older, our skin loses firmness and elasticity causing it to sag. This sagging can make pores look bigger as our skin lacks plumpness and structure.
Sun damage causes free radicals in our skin to break down collagen and elastin which contributes to that sagging effect I just mentioned. Sun damage also messes with the texture of your skin causing it to thicken, leading to bigger pores.
Alright, now that we’ve covered some factors that contribute to the appearance of pores, let’s see what we can do to combat those bad boys and make them look smaller!
How to Minimize the Appearance of Pores
Cleansing your face regularly will ensure that you’re washing away any oil or impurities that could become pore cloggers.
Make sure you’re using a cleanser that is tailored to your skin type. If you use one that is too harsh, you could end up stripping your skin of natural oils which, in turn, causes your skin to overcompensate by producing excess oil.
When you use either a chemical or physical exfoliator, you slough off dead skin cells that could potentially block pores, and this helps encourage new cell generation.
Physical exfoliants contain granules or beads to literally scrub and buff away dead cells and dirt.
Chemical exfoliants include alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic and lactic acid, beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as salicylic acid, or natural fruit enzymes which gently dissolve dead skin cells for skin resurfacing. They also get deep down into pores to clean out impurities.
Retinoids can also help to remove dead skin and smooth skin’s surface. They encourage new cell turnover to help unclog pores so they appear smaller.
Pro tip: Don’t overdo it with exfoliation! You could end up damaging skin. 2-3 times per week is great unless otherwise directed.
Also, be aware that retinoids can make skin more sun sensitive, so I always recommend using them in your nighttime skincare routine, and be sure to wear SPF sun protection during the day!
Plump It Up
A new school of thought is emerging that believes the way to reduce the appearance of pores is to plump the skin around them by providing moisture and rebuilding collagen.
This makes sense if you think about it. If the skin around the pore’s surface is more full and supple, the opening will appear smaller even if you can’t shrink the actual size of the pore below.
Make sure you’re using a regular moisturizer, and look for ingredients that offer hydration-boosting benefits (such as hyaluronic acid), and that can help rebuild collagen and elastin (such as peptides) to firm and plump skin.
Wear Your Daily SPF
As I mentioned, sun damage can really do a number on pores by breaking down collagen and elastin and thickening your skin’s surface, and it’s the number one cause of skin aging! (Besides actual aging, of course.)
When our skin’s structure breaks down, it allows the opening of the pore to expand and become more noticeable.
You can stop accumulating any more sun damage by wearing daily sun protection (no matter your pore size)!
Choose a formula with minimum level SPF 20, and layer on every day after moisturizer and before makeup. Don’t forget your neck, chest and arms too!
Try a Primer
Applying a primer before your makeup can turn your skin a into smooth, flawless canvas so your makeup goes on effortlessly.
Makeup typically doesn’t fill in pores, so it settles around the edges making them more apparent. A primer works to fill in indentations – pores or scars – on the skin’s surface to give you that porcelain look.
Use a Mask or Peel
At-home peels work to polish and resurface skin by removing dead skin cells and pore-blocking impurities. Plus, they leave your skin all smooth and glowy!
Other masks, such as those that include clay or charcoal, purify skin by vacuuming oil out of your pores to minimize their appearance.
Plus, masks and peels are a great way to treat yourself to an at-home spa day. Throw some cucumber slices on your eyes, and you are good to go!
Visit a Facialist
Do yourself a favor and stop picking at your face and trying to tackle clogged pores on your own! You can end up damaging your skin which could lead to permanent scarring.
“Traumatized pores can develop scar tissue that creates an indentation deeper than the pore itself,” explains Sonia Batra, M.D., M.P.H., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the USC Keck School of Medicine.
If you’re truly concerned about the look of your pores, see a professional esthetician or facialist for regular extractions. They have the tools and the know-how to deep clean pores correctly without damaging skin.
Step away from the magnifying mirror and leave it to the pros!
My Top Picks for Perfect Pores
Here are some of my favorite formulas to shrink the look of those pesky pores and get skin looking smooth and lovely!
Get deep down clean with this cleanser that gets down into pores to clear out blackheads and other pore cloggers. It includes bentonite clay to suck up excess oils and control shine and soothing botanicals to remove dead skin so you’re left rejuvenated and refreshed.
My fabulous daily moisturizer contains 15% hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate and plump skin which, you guessed it, can make pores appear smaller as well as smooth fine lines and wrinkles. It also includes antioxidant vitamin C to rejuvenate skin and fight signs of aging. Plus, this gentle formula soothes rosacea, eczema and sensitive skin!
This powerful serum contains natural ingredients to refine and minimize pores with natural astringent properties. It also includes antioxidants to battle free radicals and protect skin from damage and breakdown. Plus, this formula nourishes skin with deep hydration for a glowing, flawless complexion.
Primers work to even tone and smooth out the surface of your skin making it look virtually flawless. This oil-free, mineral-based formula goes even further by providing SPF 30 sun protection as well as antioxidants to combat free radicals. Plus, it’s lightly tinted, so if you’re looking for light/natural-looking coverage, you might be able to just stick with this and skip makeup altogether!
When it comes to face masks, you’ve probably seen this treatment floating around social media. There’s a reason it’s become so popular for its skin clarifying and renewing abilities. It contains an AHA and BHA blend to address common skin concerns as well as activated charcoal and clay for some deep pore extraction action. Give this mask a go and see what it can do for your skin!
Clay masks have traditionally been used to cleanse and soften skin. This purifying mask contains bentonite clay to detoxify pores and balance skin’s natural oils without drying it out. It also contains ingredients to hydrate skin, so your complexion is left clean, smooth and purified.
It’s easy to get obsessed with the size of our pores when we’re inches from a mirror, but you should remember that most people don’t notice them or aren’t getting up close and personal enough to see them.
Plus, pore size doesn’t really matter as long as you’re taking care of your skin so it’s healthy. Don’t get lost focusing on your itty bitty pores. Celebrate your beautiful, healthy skin!
Are you concerned about the size of your pores? Share your questions and thoughts with us in the comments section!