What are skin pores?
There are two kinds of skin pores: oil pores and sweat pores. The pores we see are enlarged openings of our skin's 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. These glands produce sweat, a watery substance used to regulate body temperature. The sweat pores are nearly invisible and do not cause any aesthetic concern.
The average adult has 5 million oil gland pores, 20,000 on the face alone! A blackhead or whitehead may form when pores become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne-causing bacteria then invade the clogged pores, causing our immune system to react and make the area of infection red and inflamed. This leads to the formation of pimples.
Enlarged pores can happen to anybody, regardless of skin type and color. People with "oily" skin tend to have large pores, while those with smaller pores tend to have skin on the drier side. Pores can also change size and tend to enlarge with age with prolonged sun exposure.
What can affect the appearance of pore size?
Blackheads form when trapped sebum oxidizes and causes black spots to develop on the skin's surface. This can make the pores appear more prominent by drawing attention to them. Without proper extraction, blackheads may also be stretching your pores' area, increasing pore size.
Hormonal highs and lows during pregnancy or menopause can also cause pores to look more prominent. When hormones spike during ovulation, your pores can get very large; they will shrink again as hormone levels decrease. This hormonal fluctuation may also cause breakouts and other skin blemishes.
Collagen is the primary building block of healthy, supple, and resilient skin; elastin is its right hand-man. When you age, your body's natural production of collagen and elastin drops, causing your skin to lose firmness and making the pores more apparent. In-office treatments, such as intense pulsed light (IPL), can help.
What are the best ways to reduce pore size, according to dermatologists?
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 and overnight skin treatment with pore-cleansing active ingredients.
Use the proper skin care to reduce pore size.
All of your skincare products should be oil-free or non-comedogenic. Oil-based products will clog your skin pores and cause more blackheads and whiteheads. For the best results, wash your face with lukewarm water twice daily. Massage a hydrating, medicated cleanser in circles around your entire face and neck for at least 30 seconds. Rinse thoroughly and pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Follow up with a gentle exfoliator thrice weekly to slough away dead skin cells and promote healthy natural oil production.
Use the right moisturizer to reduce pore size.
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 lotion, preferably with niacinamide. This protects the skin barrier, reduces skin dryness and irritation, and helps reduce skin redness.
Use a clarifying clay mask to reduce pore size.
Clay masks can help remove oil, dirt, and dead skin from deep inside your pores to make them look smaller. They also work to prevent future pimples, blackheads, and other skin blemishes. You can safely use these masks once or twice weekly, 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 irritate.
Clarifying pink clay masks are a great way to clear out unwanted buildup and restore a natural-looking glow. Clay draws out excess oil from your pores, giving your skin a pleasant, tightened sensation and refined texture. Clay masks usually combine different clays, such as bentonite or kaolin. Often, sulfur is added to help fight acne.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day.
Sun damage increases your long-term risk of cancer and wrinkles and can dry out your skin and make your pores look more prominent. Chronic sun exposure may also lead to loss of skin elasticity. When you wear sunscreen, you're blocking harmful sun rays from reaching the skin, helping it remains tight. Use a product with an SPF of at least 30 and apply it 15 minutes before you head outside.
Use blackhead strips to reduce pore size.
You can use pore strips to instantly lift dirt and oil from the follicle to unclog pores. Be sure to find strips that are designed with sensitive skin in mind. MDacne blackhead strips are made of natural, plant-based fibers that remove oxidized sebum and other pore-clogging materials. After using a blackhead strip, follow up with a salicylic acid cleanser and treatment cream or retinol to prevent future blackheads.
In addition to using the right products, good, old-fashioned water can also benefit your pores and overall skin health. Water helps hydrate your skin internally, remove toxins from your pores, and improve your overall complexion. Aim for eight glasses of water per day to properly hydrate the body and say goodbye to dry skin.
Are there any office treatments that can help with large skin pores?
Micro-needling with radiofrequency performed in dermatologists' offices can help boost collagen and tighten the skin oil glands openings. When collagen production increases, skin becomes denser, and pores appear smaller.
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