Can You Shrink Pores?
PORES. The number one skin question I receive. "I have enlarged pores! My pores are clogged! I have blackheads! Can you shrink my pores?" The list goes on and on! I will explain everything you've ever wanted to know about pores in this post including how to keep them unclogged and best products! Let's get down to some pore facts!
What are pores + why do we have them?
Let's first understand the function of pores and why we have them. Pores are the opening to the hair follicle and sebaceous (oil) gland. This is how our skin produces its natural oil and hydration. A pore is basically a bridge for the oil to reach the surface of the skin. We have pores all over our entire body except the soles of our feet, palms of our hands and eyelids. Why? Because we have hair all over our entire body except those few areas and the pores are the home to those hair follicles.
Pore size + Location
The size of your pores is determined by the genetic skin type you have first and foremost. Thanks, mom and dad! Secondarily, the overuse of incorrect or too aggressive skin products, not exfoliating and sometimes even poor hygiene can play a role. It is completely normal for someone with oily skin to have larger pores all over the entire face. Dry skin types, on the other hand, will have tiny pores all over the face and maybe a few enlarged pores around the nose. While combination skin will have larger pores on certain areas of the face. This will include the chin, nose, between the eyebrows and cheek area right next to the nose. This is commonly known as the “t-zone” area.
Do pores open and close?
I have some very shocking news for you all, pores DO NOT open and close! We have all heard that warm water and steam "opens" pores and cold water and toner "closes" pores. In theory, it sounds like a great idea! Unfortunately, it simply is not how the physiology of the skin works! Pores do not have any involuntary muscles that would allow the pores to open and close. When using warm water or steam on the skin it appears that the pores are more pliable or "open." What has actually happened is one of a few things. Sebum in the skin is wax-like, so it essentially been heated up and "melted" while the surface layer of dry dead skin has been softened. The use of cold water or toner on the skin helps with shocking the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) to temporarily shrink, minimizing any inflammation and evening the skin tone. There you have it!
+ The use of self-tanners or spray tanning can make pores look darker because the tan color exaggerates the pores. Make sure you exfoliate well in between self-tanning sessions.
+ As we age our collagen and elastin break down contributing to the pore-loosening process. It's basically like an old sock that gets stretched out. Glamourous right? Using vitamin C serum daily will significantly help stimulate collagen production and help minimize pores from stretching out.
+ Once a pore has been clogged for an extended period of time then unclogged the pore can remain "open" and look like a hole. Seeing a dermatologist can help because they may be able to cauterize the area to help new skin cells grow and essentially "fill" in that area.
Can you shrink pores?
Here it is, the big question! I'll give you the bad news first. NO, you can not physically shrink pores. The good news is you can make them appear smaller and less visible! Here is my list of proven pore de-gunging and pore minimizing methods:
+ Chemical Exfoliation
Most cleansers with beads, scrubs and even microdermabrasion are great for getting rid of the surface layer of dead skin, they don't really get deep into pores. What does work well are chemical exfoliants and by chemical, I mean natural chemical acids and enzymes such as pumpkin, glycolic and salicylic acid products.
+ Get a facial with extractions
When going to receive a facial your esthetician will properly prepare your skin for the extraction process. I would recommend getting a professional strength peel during your facial because it will really dissolve oil and dead skin cells that are clogging the pores. Often this minimizes the extraction process because the peel helps digest some of the surface clogged pores.
Using over the counter or prescription strength retinol will decrease the amount of oil produced, unclog pores and speed the cell turn over making the pores appear smaller.
+ Makeup Primer
Using a makeup primer will smooth out and "fill" the pores before the application of foundation.
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NYX Cosmetics Pore Filler Primer
+ Jojoba Oil
Using cold pressed jojoba oil as a blackhead spot treatment in the evening can help unclog pores. I know, using an oil to unclog oil doesn't sound like it makes a lot of sense but stay with me here! Jojoba absorbs into the skin, emulsifies the hardened oil plug and unclogs the pore. Basically it's treating oil with oil and also tricking the skin into thinking it's producing enough of it's own oil. Therefore balancing the skin's natural oil production resulting in producing less clogged pores and less clogged pores mean they look smaller!
+ Clay Masks
Bentonite clay is derived from volcanic ash has been used for healing and beautifying treatments for years and with great reason. Clay is amazing for pulling out toxins and purifying what is clogging the pores. Doing a clay mask will definitely help keep pores clog free!
What about pore strips?
Honestly, I am not a fan of pore strips. The blackhead needs to be somewhat sticking out of the skin to adhere to the strip for it to even work. Plus skin redness, irritation, ripping skin off, bruising or breaking capillaries can occur. I think everyone would agree they aren't worth the potential side effects. There are much better options!