First, the bad news: The sizes of our pores is genetically determined, according to celebrity dermatologist Debra Jailman. As you may have already guessed, there is not a magic pore-minimizing elixir just waiting to be discovered during your next visit to Sephora.
A pore is an opening of a hair follicle through which sebum (our skin’s natural oil) may pass so it can moisturize our skin, and in some areas of the body, our hair as well. Those with dark or olive complexions tend to have larger pores while fair-skinned folks tend to have smaller pores. Additionally, the oilier your skin, the larger your pores appear; the dryer, the smaller. Finally, if you have experienced sun damage, the collagen that was keeping the pores tight may have been weakened by UV rays. There is a lot of stuff about our pores that we can’t change, unfortunately.
Can You Really Shrink Your Pores?
The good news: There is a lot we can do to minimize and improve the appearance of our pores, and it starts with improving the health of our skin. (These things tend to be a package deal!) We can also take preventative measures protect our skin from further damage.
Keeping your pores clear is number one. Trapped skin cells in the form of blackheads and pimples can stretch out the pore, and sometimes, even the most careful of extractions can risk damaging the skin, which is why it’s so important to keep it clear in the first place. I, of all people, know that this is easier said than done, especially if you’re experiencing hormonal shifts that cause stubborn breakouts that resist any kind of acne product. I will address this! But first, the basics:
Avoid skin-clogging ingredients, especially those with petroleum and mineral oil. Seek moisturizers with non-clogging, oil-balancing natural oils like argan, jojoba, rosehips, and shea butter.
Gently cleanse skin twice a day and immediately after a sweaty workout. If your skin is oily and not particularly sensitive, try exfoliating three times a week; if you skin is sensitive, exfoliate once a week (twice at most). Whatever your skin type, be sure to avoid harsh scrubs with little, jagged pieces that can cause micro tears (read: inflammation). To up your cleansing game, use a clay mask once a week. Clay is especially good for absorbing impurities.
If you’re still experiencing problems, use a salicylic acid serum. Salicylic acid is a BHA acid and chemical exfoliant, meaning that it will help increase skin cell turnover. It’s oil-soluble, so it can penetrate the oil in pores. It’s also anti-inflammatory.
Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum with salicylic acid.
Now to the more complicated stuff. If your skin isn’t responding to a typical anti-blemish routine, there’s a good chance that you’re experiencing hormonal breakouts. Although these are harder to treat, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but improvement will probably require lifestyle changes, including adhering to a cleaner, plant-based diet. Here are some PD articles that may be of use:
Next, prevent damage. Take preventative measures and wear sunscreen when you’re going to be outside for longer than half an hour. Before bed, nourish your skin with an all-natural antioxidant-rich serum or cream. Fortunately for us, there’s no shortage of these on the market. You can even make your own by blending your favorite natural oils. Finally, be gentle to your skin. Avoid picking at spots.
Try a simple makeup trick. Although this is just a quick fix, it works! Take a dense, domed makeup brush and buff a tinted primer onto your skin. With this method, you’re pushing the makeup into the skin rather than just smearing it on top. If you’re breakout-prone, this may sound kind of scary, but you should be okay if you’re starting with a clean makeup brush, and you’re using a primer that you know won’t break out your skin. Just be sure to thoroughly cleanse skin at the end of the day!
If you must, seek more intensive remedies. If your pores are still bugging you, there are a more intensive treatments that can help. Chemical peels, retinoid creams, and nonablative lasers can improve the surface of the skin, including your pore size—if your pore size was worsened by sun damage or past breakouts, that is. (Lasers won’t change your genes!) Proponents of the Derma Roller also attest that it can improve the appearance of damaged skin since the process helps induce collagen. After treating my acne scars with micro-needling, I have noticed that my skin’s texture is more even.
Do you swear by any pore treatments?
Related: How to Practice Skin Cycling
Photos: Leonardo Aguiar via Flickr, Juice Beauty