Do you obsess over your huge pores? You’re not alone. Let’s talk about what you can do about them.
People obsess over their pores. Absolutely. Obsess. Let’s first establish that everything is huge when you are two inches away from a 10x magnifying mirror. Next, let’s establish that you have the pores you’re born with. Now that we’re clear on that, let’s talk about what we can do about them.
- Clean them out. Pores are like garbage bags. You can cram them full of plenty of trash and they will continue to expand. Plus, dark spots like blackheads make pores more visible. So make sure your routine features something to keep them clean regularly and get your facials, since manual extractions are still the most effective to remove blackheads.
- Exfoliate them. If you dug a hole in the ground, and you threw the dirt up on the sides of that hole, it’d look deeper, right? The same is true of your skin. Dead skin cells don’t always flake off the way they should, which leads to a build-up called hyperkeratinization. This common condition makes pores look larger than they are. The best way to address this is with some form of exfoliation. Pore minimizing products that feature alpha hydroxy acids will help the most here, so look for ingredients like glycolic or lactic acid.
- Temporarily tighten them. Many pore minimizing products contain ingredients that can temporarily tighten the opening of the pore. In this case, you are not changing the part of the pore that is below the surface of the skin; you are only affecting the opening at the surface. Some of these products work by causing a small amount of inflammation at the surface, while others work with a cool temperature to simply constrict the opening. This is not be confused with closing the pores. Astringents and clay masks are two such products that may help with this, although the results may last only a few hours.
- Camouflage them. The marriage of skin care and cosmetics is a wonderful thing, especially when you can rely on a cosmetic product to hide the pores. There are literally thousands of options out there. Look for ingredients like silicone or dimethicone. These products lay on the surface of the skin and keep the makeup from sinking into pores and fine lines. Remember that this is a temporary fix and will wash off at the end of the evening. And don’t worry about pore clogging. Silicone and dimethicone actually can’t penetrate the skin and will form a permeable layer on the surface. These ingredients can be beneficial to many skin types for more reasons than just decreasing the appearance of the pores.
Always remember that you can minimize the appearance of the pores, but you cannot get rid of them. Also, take two giant steps away from that magnifying mirror. Try some of these tips and give yourself a little break on this one.
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My teacher in esthetics school made a huge impression on me. She had many sassy little sayings that have stuck with me. One of them was a way to correct us when we would erroneously ask if something would “open” or “close” a pore. She would always snap back: Pores don’t have doors.
It is true.. They don’t open and shut. In a facial, when we open up your pores, what we actually mean is that we’re softening the skin. Toners don’t close your pores… they constrict them. Large pores aren’t open, they are visible.
I like to offer a slightly different theory with more explanation. Technically it seems like the pores have opened or closed. But there is a distinction here that, if you understand it, you will automatically understand how to treat other skin care problems. I like to explain with what I call the Kitchen Sponge Theory.
Imagine that your skin is like a dish sponge. When that dish sponge is dry, it is hard. It doesn’t bend at all. It’d be easy to break. When you first run that sponge under water, the water rolls off. It doesn’t absorb. But if you hold the sponge under water, it starts to absorb it. The sponge softens. It becomes flexible. It bends easily. It absorbs more water.
This change is essentially what we mean when we say that pores open. We are actually making the surrounding tissue more pliable to remove blackheads easily. That sponge bends easily after it’s been run under water, just like steam, oils, and enzymes all soften the skin and the debris within the pore. The skin is more supple and allows me to extract clogs without causing damage. Products absorb better, allowing nutrients to penetrate deeper into the skin. In contrast, toners can constrict pores. They generally do this because the colder temperature constricts the skin and makes the pores less noticeable. (Hint: they’d go back to their original shape eventually.) There are other ways to make the pores appear smaller as well, such as regular exfoliation. Remember that you can change the appearance of your pores, but not the size!
It may seem like I’m splitting hairs. Who really cares if the pores open or if the skin softens? My first response is that the more we understand how the skin functions, the better we can treat it. If you understand the texture of the skin, you’ll understand why it clogs in the first place. Then you’ll understand why you have to go through a process if you want to properly pick (but don’t, because you should come see me for a facial). My next reason is that if you understand this, you won’t fall for tricky sales people who want to sell you ineffective products to “close your pores.” You read this blog. You know better now!
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