The Truth About Your Pesky Pores
Pores are super important, but if yours are way too big for their britches they can really kill that ‘flawless complexion’ vibe you’re trying to give off. The good news is, with the right skincare tricks, you can significantly improve any enlarged pore situation.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ. According to the National Geographic Society, an average adult’s skin weighs in at around 8 pounds, measures a grand total of 22 square feet and without this vital protective barrier? Well, you’d literally cease to exist. Your skin is continually battling pollution, controlling your body temperature, fighting infection and protecting your body from injuries. And that’s just the start of it.
It’s no wonder then, that your skin is the cause of so many concerns. From dryness and itching, through to acne, fine lines, wrinkles and annoying dark spots that seem to creep up on you literally overnight, skin has a lot to contend with. Not least of which are pesky, enlarged pores.
Enlarged pores might not be up there with more serious skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, but if you’re a sufferer you’ll know just how annoying they can be.
But first, let's have a look at what they are and why you need them.
What Are Pores?
Pores are tiny openings in your skin’s surface that allow microscopic particles to pass in and out. The human body has two types of pores: ones that produce sebum and others than produce sweat. Let’s stick a pin in the sweat-producers for now and concentrate on the ones that produce sebum (AKA oil) because these are the ones that get clogged and can ruin your notions of a smooth complexion.
Oil-producing pores are the openings found at the top of your hair follicles and sebaceous glands where they release sebum at a surface level to help naturally moisturize and soften the skin. Sounds important, right? Well, yes, it is. The problem, however, starts when your sebaceous glands get over-excited and produce way too much sebum than your skin really needs. This excess can cause blockages (more on that later) which stretches your pores and leads to breakouts. Sigh.
While your pore size is determined by genetics and you can neither shrink them (sorry about that) nor make them physically grow, many factors come into play where their general appearance is concerned. And yes, the following will sound super familiar because they’re everything in life that your skin truly hates – namely aging, sun damage and other lifestyle and environmental nasties such as a poor diet, lack of sleep and pollution. All of these contribute to enlarged-looking pores by breaking down collagen and compromising the strength, firmness and suppleness of your skin.
But all is not lost because, thankfully, you can take steps to keep your pores looking as trim as the day they were born. OK, that might be pushing it, but you know what we mean…
Herein, our five favorite tricks for climbing the ladder to pore perfection.
1. Make Good Cleansing Choices
Keeping your skin clean is one of the most important steps for maintaining good pore health. How so? Because oil loves to bind itself to bacteria, dirt and makeup, so if you let excess sebum sit around on the surface of your skin your pores end up stretching to make room for all of that extra debris. This is seriously bad news for the appearance of your complexion and can raise total havoc for acne-prone skin.
That being said, over-cleansing your skin with a routine that’s packed with chemicals is never a good idea, either. It’ll do nothing but compromise your skin’s natural protective barrier and dry out your complexion. Yes, it may strip away all those oils in the short-term, but in the long-term it’ll simply make your sebaceous glands think your skin needs more oil, so they'll continue to produce more and more of it. Vicious circle.
Instead of stripping your skin of every last inch of oil, choose gentle, effective cleansing products that harness the power of ingredients like tea tree oil, coconut charcoal and kaolin. Wash your face in lukewarm, never hot water, and use a light massaging technique to thoroughly cleanse without over-stimulating your pores.
2. Don’t Dismiss Toner
Potent, alcohol-laced toners that promise to rid you of oily skin forever often just suck all the life out of it. So one word: avoid. Gentle, balancing treatments, however, that are formulated to help unclog your pores and prevent breakouts should never be written off.
Our Daily Super Toner, for example, contains one of the best ingredients for cleaning and exfoliating your skin, glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that works by loosening the ‘glue’ that binds dead skin cells together and holds them to the surface of your skin. Dead skin cells that hang around for too long spell disaster for your pores, so gently sloughing them off is key for avoiding any excess flakes that block your pores and cause inevitable breakouts.
Keep your eyes peeled for toners and products containing salicylic acid as well. Salicyclic acid is another great choice for keeping your skin clean and clear while boosting cell turnover at the same time. It can be a little drying, however, so make sure it’s either blended with lightweight moisturizing ingredients, or follow with a non pore-clogging moisturizer…
3. Never Forget To Moisturize
Adding more moisture to an already-oily complexion might seem foolhardy, but it’s actually vital for balancing your skin and stopping your sebaceous glands from filling up your pores with even more excess oil. Obviously heavy oils, waxes and butters are out of the question, but a light moisturizing routine will work wonders for the health of your pores and skin.
Awesome ingredients to look out for are ceramides, glycerin and one of our favorites, hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is a super lightweight but powerful humectant that draws water into your skin like a sponge. It’s clever and very effective – especially for oily complexions, enlarged pores and acne-prone skin.
4. Choose Non-Comedogenic Makeup
Your skincare isn’t the only part of your routine that might need a little adjustment if your pores are giving you real grief. In fact, pore-clogging makeup can be just as much to blame.
Most liquid foundations, for example, contain a whole bunch of oils that pores loathe. Creamy concealers, blushers and bronzers can also have a similar effect, so our advice? Stick with mineral, powder formulations and look for the term non-comedogenic on the label of all your cosmetics. Non-comedogenic means a product and its ingredients have been formulated and tested to reduce its risk of clogging your pores. It doesn’t mean it hands-down won’t clog your pores, but it’s less likely to.
We’ll take that.
5. Be Super Sun Savvy
As you all know, overexposure to the sun breaks down collagen in your skin and is a killer for fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation and sagging. Well, the damage does not stop there as it also causes the walls of your pores to lose elasticity, sag and appear much bigger as a result.
To combat UV damage, apply an antioxidant serum every morning (we love vitamin C), then after moisturizing, finish with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Just remember, as with your makeup, choose sun protection that’s oil-free and non-comedogenic to avoid any chances of clogging your perfectly protected pores.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.