What are skin pores?
There are two kinds of skin pores: oil pores and sweat pores. The pores that we see are opening of the enlarged openings of our skin oil glands. Attached to each hair follicle is a sebaceous gland (oil gland) that produces oil (sebum). Sweat glands are tiny tubes that are not connected to hair follicles. They produce the typical sweat - which is a watery substance. The sweat pores are nearly invisible and do not cause any aesthetic concern.
The average adult has 5 million oil gland pores, with approximately 20,000 on the face alone. When pores become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, a blackhead or whitehead may form. When the acne bacteria proliferate in the clogged pores., our immune system reacts and the skin around the oil gland opening red and inflamed, causing a pimple. Men's pores are larger than women's. That said, only a small number of men are bothered by pore size and will seek treatment.
Enlarged pores can happen to anybody, with every skin type and color. People with "oily" skin tend to have larger pores, while those with smaller pores tend to have skin on the drier side. Pores can also change the size and tend to enlarge with age with prolonged sun exposure.
What makes skin pores look larger?
Sebum, oxidation, and blackheads
Sebum, oxidation, and blackheads make pores more noticeable.
Loss of skin collagen
Collagen is the primary building block of healthy, supple, and resilient skin. According to a study in the journal Dermatologic Surgery, decreased elasticity around pores is one of the leading causes of enlarged pores. Chronic sun exposure is one of the causes of larger skin pores. The ultraviolet rays weaken the collagen that supports pores and keeps them tight.
Hormonal highs and lows during pregnancy or menopause can also cause pores to look larger. When hormones spike during ovulation, your pores can get very large. And then, they will shrink again as hormone levels decrease.
When your body's natural production of elastin and collagen drop with age, your skin gets floppier, and this makes the pores appear more extensive. Elastin works with collagen to support the skin. The decline in these proteins is also linked to deep wrinkles and folds, she says. In-office treatments, such as intense pulsed light (IPL), can help.
Yes, dirt and debris can clog pores and make them appear larger, but "I tell most of my patients to wash their face only at night because you don't want to de-grease it to the point that it becomes dry. Pore treatments become more irritating if they stop using them, and pores continue to appear enlarged.
What are the best ways to reduce pore size?
You can't change your pores' size, but you can take steps to make them appear smaller. The best way to keep pores clean and prevent "plugs" or "filaments (i.e., blackheads) is with a combination of a medicated cleanser & overnight skin treatment.
Use the right skincare
All your products should be oil-free or non-comedogenic. Oil-based products will clog your skin pores cause more blackheads and whiteheads. For the best results, wash your face with lukewarm water that is not too hot or too cold. Massage the cleanser in circles around your entire face and neck for at least 30 seconds. Rinse thoroughly and pat your skin dry without rubbing.
Use the right moisturizer
Using a moisturizer is a must for everybody, including people with oily skin and acne-prone skin. To reduce your pores' appearance, look for a light, water-based moisturizer, preferably with niacinamide. Oil-free moisturizer with niacinamide protects the skin barrier of the skin, reduces skin dryness and irritation, and helps reduce skin redness.
Use an acne-prone skin pink clay mask
Clay masks can help remove oil, dirt, and dead skin deep inside your pores to make them look smaller. You can use these once or twice per week, but not on the same days you exfoliate. Exfoliating and using a clay mask on the same day can be tough on your skin and increase your irritation risk.
Acne-prone skin pink clay masks are a great way to absorb oil and restore a natural-looking glow. Clay draws out water and oil from your pores, which temporarily gives your skin a nice, tightened sensation and refined texture. This results in smaller-looking pores. Clay masks are usually a combination of different clays, such as bentonite or kaolin. Often, sulfur is added to help fight acne. Remember that overusing clay masks may over dry and irritate your skin if you use them too frequently.
Use blackhead strips
The black dots that you see in your pores are not dirt. This is oxidized dry skin oil (sebum). To best wat to remove these blackheads faster is with blackheads strips. Using a salicylic acid cleanser and treatment cream with salicylic acid or retinol will help prevent future blackheads.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day
Sunscreen is a must-have for everyone, so don't let oily skin hold you back. Sun damage not only increases your long-term risk of cancer and wrinkles, but it can also dry out your skin and make your pores look bigger. Constant sun exposure will result in pores that will begin to stretch and sag around the edges, making them look bigger. When you wear sunscreen, you're blocking harmful sun rays from reaching the skin. In turn, your skin remains tight. Wearing sunscreen every day can also make your skin smoother. Use a product with an SPF of at least 30. You should apply it at least 15 minutes before you head outside. You can also choose moisturizers and foundations that contain SPF in them.
Never sleep with makeup on.
Falling asleep with your makeup on is detrimental to your skin. When left overnight, cosmetics can combine with dirt, oil, and bacteria left over from the day and clog up your pores. This can make them look larger the next day when you wake up.
In addition to using the right products, good, old-fashioned water can also benefit your pores and overall skin health. Specifically, water helps by hydrating your skin internally, removing toxins from your pores, and improving your overall complexion. A good rule of thumb aims for at least eight glasses of water or other liquids each day. If plain water isn't your forte, try adding flavor with lemon, cucumber, or berries.
What not to do?
Avoid chemical peels, electronic brushes, and exfoliating scrubs. Some exfoliation is beneficial. Too much exfoliation of the skin, with over-dry your skin. This will be caused your sebaceous glands to produce more sebum to replenish the lost moisture, increasing the size of the skin glands and skin pores.
Using alcohol-based toners
Alcohol-based toners have pretty good PR—they sound and seem like a good idea and can be moderately effective in shrinking the size of pores….for a few hours. Unfortunately, these benefits are typically outweighed by the fact that often, these toners irritate the skin, resulting in damaged skin, which is more susceptible to acne bacteria.
Using spin brushes or harsh scrubs
Exfoliating with tools like spin brushes or with scrubs may seem like a good idea. However, for people with acne, they tend to do more harm than good. Over-exfoliating can over-irritate the skin, damage the skin's outer protective layer, making it more susceptible to bacteria, and causing more breakouts down the lime.
Using magnifying mirrors
On these mirrors, the pores look frighteningly large. That said – most people will not notice enlarged pores on other people's faces. More than 50 percent of men answered that they have never noticed the pores' size on a woman's face in one recent poll.
Are there any office treatments that can help with large skin pores?
Micro-needling with radiofrequency performed in dermatologist's office s can also help boost collagen and tighten the skin oil glands openings. When we increase collagen production, skin becomes denser, and pores get squished in, so they appear smaller.
BONUS TIP: makeup, skincare, and hair products that clog pores.
Though we don't have (a lot of) control over the toxins and debris in our environment, we can see what we put directly on our skin. Be mindful of your makeup, skincare, and hair products. Make sure you're always using oil-free products, are cleansing your face regularly (and properly … see above!), and consider reducing the number of products you use.
Have any other questions about your pores? Download the MDacne app and ask a dermatologist on our team. We would be happy to chat with you!
To find the right acne treatments for your unique skin, take the free skin assessment by clicking here.