If it seems you’ve tried every pore minimizer out there and haven’t seen positive results for your enlarged pores, don’t give up hope! At Dermal Health, we take a research-backed approach to target the root causes of large pores.
Enlarged pores are an aesthetic concern for men and women of all ages and many of us spend a lot of time and money on products that claim to shrink them. For every dermatologist-recommended treatment option, it seems that there are just as many myths and gimmicks that aren’t going to be very effective at all.
Pores are the openings of hair follicles that contain oil glands (also called sebaceous glands) that lie below the skin’s surface. The T-zone area has more oil glands which is why most enlarged pore problems are concentrated around the nose, forehead and chin. The face has 400 to 800 pores/cm2 compared with 50 pores/cm2 on the arms and legs. Oily skin types are more likely to have enlarged pores.
Treatment objections to reduce pore size and improve the appearance of pores:
1. Smooth skin surface with chemical exfoliation / peeling:
Heaped up dead skin cells on the skin’s surface reflects light poorly. This emphasizes the openings on the skin’s surface making them look larger. Smooth skin reflects light and helps conceal the pores. For this reason exfoliation with hydroxy acids may help improve the appearance of the pores. Using a salicylic acid cleanser or peel can help remove oil and debris from the pore which also helps the skin look smoother.
Include one or more of the following products: Renewal cleanser, Pore Control cleanser, Daily Acne peel, Acne repair serum, Excelerate, Chemical peel spray
2. Increase Collagen production:
Thickening the walls of the pores goes a long way toward decreasing their visibility. Products that increase collagen production like vitamin C, hydroxy acids and retinoids are good choices.
Niacinamide (vitamin B3) can also help visibly improve stretched out, enlarged pores, but it works in a much different way than BHA. Niacinamide boosts skin’s natural repair processes to provide a "tightened-up" look. Research also demonstrates that niacinamide has significant anti-aging properties, so your skin reaps both benefits at once.
Include one or more of the following products: Collagen serum, Retinol serum
3. Reduce the size of oil glands:
Another way to minimize the appearance of large pores is to reduce the size of oil glands. Retinoids are effective. It is important to choose topical retinoids that are able to penetrate deeply enough to reach the oil glands.
Eating foods rich in vitamin A, which is the precursor to retinoids, may help to reduce oil gland activity, thus reducing the appearance of large pores. However, consuming over 10,000 IUs of Vitamin A a day can lead to hair loss.
4. Decongest pores and keep it clean:
Retinoids and Salicylic acid also help prevent the build-up of dead skin cells and oil inside the hair follicle that leads to dilation of the pores in the first place.
When the hair follicle is clogged with dead cells and is not open to the surface, it is called a closed comedone or white head. When this worsens and gets bigger it is called a milia. When the dead skin cells clogged in the pore turn dark and the follicle is open at the surface, the lesion is called a blackhead or a open comedone. Using antioxidants will prevent the dead skin cells inside the pores from turning black and becoming more visible. The darkness inside a clogged pore occurs when lipids in the oil (sebum) that is mixed with the dead skin cells becomes oxidized. Using an antioxidant can prevent this darkening making the pores look smaller.
What won’t work
Products that cause swelling within the skin deliver temporary improvement for large pores. This is how most “pore minimizing” products work, and many of these rely on menthol, alcohol and eucalyptus. The frustrating part about “pore reducer” products, is that many of them actually make large pores worse. In particular, products with drying, harsh ingredients (like SD alcohol) or abrasive, jagged scrub particles can trigger an irritation response that jump-starts more oil production, leading to even more enlarged pores.
Many women try to resurface their way to smaller pores with office-administered laser treatments. Anatomically, the base of the pore beneath the skin is actually larger than the pore on the surface, so resurfacing with lasers such as the Fraxel can actually make pores appear larger. Some people believe that washing the face with cold water “closes” pores but there is no scientific proof of this. Steaming the face or applying hot wet towels seems to open the pores and make it easier to extract the debri, but this has also not been proven in any scientific manner.
Preventing Enlarged Pores
Believe it or not, a few skincare and lifestyle changes can keep your pores tight and undetectable, avoiding the need to seek treatment options. To help prevent the appearance of enlarged pores:
1. Avoid environmental assaults that break down collagen and elastin, including sun exposure and cigarette smoke.
Although our cells are capable of producing more collagen, they lose their ability to produce elastin after puberty. Without this elasticity, pores sag open and become more visible. Using sunscreen prevents the production of the enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. Retinoids, hydroxy acids and antioxidants (especially Vitamin C) can help as well.
2. When pores get clogged with dead cells, makeup and oil, they stretch and appear larger.
Avoiding skincare products with pore-clogging ingredients is another way to minimize pore appearance. Comedogenic (comedone causing) ingredients include some forms of coconut oil, isopropyl myristate, isopropyl palmitate, and olive oil.
The Bottom Line
Using the proper skincare regimen every day is the best way to protect your pores.