Can You Really Shrink Your Pores?

Many people ask me why their pores are large, and what can be done to minimize their appearance? These are good questions, but in order to answer them it requires understanding more about our pores. This information will empower you so you will not be fooled by products that promise to shrink pore size, but do not provide the right ingredients to do the job.  

What is a pore?  A pore is the term used by the beauty industry, which refers to the follicle's appearance from the front.  So, when we look at our face in the mirror and see the tiny little circle shape on our skin, this is the (top) of our follicle, or to use the scientific term, it is the top view of the pilosebaceous follicle.

What determines pore size?As it turns out, it is genetics that determines the pore size.  The amount of oil produced by our skin is genetic. The size and amount of sebaceous glands are also determined by genetics, which directly impacts the size of our pores.

What makes a pore appear large or small?  The pore can shrink, and has the capacity to dilate.  The more oil produced, the more the pore must dilate to allow oil to pass through it, thus making it appear large.  The less oil produced, the smaller the pore will appear since there is very little oil passing through the pore. So you probably guessed already, oily skin typically has a larger pore size, and dry skin a smaller pore size.  So, it goes back to genetics, which determines how oily or dry our skin is.


Why do my pores appear large even after using products that claim to shrink them?

Sun damage can cause a pore to permanently dilate.  After sun damage occurs, scar tissue forms in the follicle wall, and this means the pore does not have the capacity to shrink, so it basically stays dilated. With sun damaged skin, we lose collagen and elastin, and this also contributes to pores appearing larger due to the loss of elasticity.  Products that promise to shrink our pores typically use ingredients that will dry up surface oil, which can sometimes work temporarily, but they do not work long term.


What works to reduce the appearance of large pores?

  • Extractions: help to minimize pores after a facial, as well as, peels, and microdermabrasion.  
  • A Peptide serum:with a large concentration of peptides, and a good retinolproduct help minimize pores.  Peptides help by improving elasticity, and have a firming effect on the skin.
  • Retinol: creates cell turnover, and this helps increase firmness in the skin as well.  By incorporating these products, you will create a great anti-aging regimen, and help to diminish pore size.  

What can I do to control clogged pores?

    • Cleansing:use a good cleanser that dissolves dirt, oil, and make-up, and spendmore timecleansing at night to dissolve congestion.  Most people do not spend enough time cleansing their skin, so if you can spare an extra two or three minutes a night, then you will notice pores become less congested.  
    • Cleansing oil:a cleansing oil is super helpful.  The best method is to cleanse your face first, then massage two-three pumps of cleansing oil into hands and massage over face focusing on your largest pores (typically in the t-zone).  Spend about three to five minutes massaging skin. Oil is a magnet for oil, and pulls trapped sebum from the pores. Just make sure to wash your face afterwards making sure toget all of the cleansing oil off the skin.
    • Exfoliate: as much as three times per week (at night is helpful).  This way you remove dead skin build-up, and keep it from building up in the follicle wall.  Make sure the exfoliation is gentle, or formulated for the face so you do not aggravate your skin.
  • Professional treatments: Microdermabrasion is helpful to diminish pore size, as well as, chemical peels, and also microcurrent.
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    For all of the above facts and information I referenced Mark Lees, PhD MS, author ofThe Skin Care Answer Book.

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