Pure and simple, pores are the pits

Written by Bea Taylor

The truth is plain and simple; we can’t get rid of our pores entirely, or even reduce their size, but we can reduce their appearance. Here’s how.

Sometimes the truth hurts and, let’s just say this truth is harder to hear than most, we can’t make our pores physically smaller. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s all genetics. But, don’t despair, Linda Sharrem from Caci says, “while it’s absolutely true that enlarged pores can be genetic, we can reduce the appearance of them with good hydration and by making sure the skin is uncongested.” 

The recent tidal wave of face-tuning, filters and seemingly flawless beauty YouTubers has done nothing to quell our preoccupation with obtaining a poreless finish. In fact, this obsession has recently inspired a new term, coined by dermatologists; porexia. 

Pore size is determined by a number of factors, genetics and hormones are among them, but sun damage and ageing can also cause pores to appear larger over time. “We start to lose collagen and elasticity in the skin, this causes the skin to stretch, making our pores look more obvious,” says Sharrem. 

Let’s dip our toes into a little bit of scientific talk: the medical term for a clogged pore is a comedone. Open comedones are also commonly referred to as blackheads. When the skin produces too much oil, it mixes with dead skin in the pore, forming a clog that causes it to enlarge. Pores will also get stretched when they’re consistently clogged, which makes them appear bigger. So, apart from not looking at your pores too closely in the mirror, the best way to tackle your pore problem is to exfoliate and wear sunscreen. 

AHAs and BHAs (the chemical exfoliants you need in your skincare routine) are the holy grail ingredients for penetrating and cleaning out your pores. While both acids exfoliate on a cellular level, AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids), such as glycolic and lactic, work on the surface to brighten and smooth. BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids), such as salicylic acid, on the other hand, are oil-soluble and can penetrate deeper to remove dead skin cells clogged in pores. 

Sharrem advises, “make sure you have a good cleansing and exfoliating regime. It doesn’t need to be an abrasive cleanser but one that’s suited to your skin type and use it twice a day.” She also suggests going to bed with clean skin and good hydration. “If your pores are caused by excessive oils, make sure you use an oil- and pore-mattifying moisturiser to reduce oils throughout the day, Murad has the perfect product for this.” 

Retinoids are another stellar ingredient to look out for in the quest for smaller-looking pores (remember, we can’t get rid of them entirely). Retinoids help increase cellular turnover and stimulate collagen production. So, they tackle pore size from two angles; firstly, cellular turnover exfoliates dead skin cells, dirt and oil (helping to shrink the appearance of pores) and, secondly, collagen production makes the skin look firmer (also minimising the appearance of pores).

The last stop on our pore-reducing ingredient hunt is niacinamide — also known as Vitamin B3. It’s a water-soluble vit that works with the natural substances in your skin to visibly minimise large pores and tighten the ones that might have got a bit lax. Holy grail ingredients aside, Sharrem recommends, “dermal rolling at home is amazing from reducing pore size, as are micro-needling treatments performed in clinics.” 

Give these products a whirl:
Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting & Refining Serum by Dr Dennis Gross
Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore Tight Toner by Glow Recipe
A-Passioni Retinol Cream by Drunk Elephant
Pomegranate Pore Blurring Gel Moisturiser by Korres
No Rinse Intensive Pore Minimising Tone by Perricone MD

skin pores diagram

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