If you’re lucky, you have to look closely to see them, but some of us see them all the time. Pores are small hair follicle openings on your skin that connect to oil glands below. They’re incredibly important in getting oil and sweat to the surface of the skin, and although their size is genetically determined pores can enlarge and become more visible than we’d like for two reasons:
- Your collagen has weakened due to age, sun exposure or skin trauma causing the walls of your pores to lose their strength and expand.
- Your pores have stretched out because they have become clogged with dirt, oil and bacteria.
We need pores so we can’t just get rid of them! But here’s some ways to minimise their size if one of the above has occurred:
Dead skin cells are a common cause of clogged pores. Consistent exfoliation will ensure there is no build up of dead skin, but the keyword here is ‘consistent’. If you don’t keep up a good exfoliating routine your pores will just clog right back up. Most skin types can handle exfoliation three times a week, while sensitive skins should only be exfoliated once a week. And while you may want to reach for a face scrub right now, try and hold back. Harsh exfoliation can just aggravate your skin issues more so we recommend taking a more gentle approach with exfoliating toners, masks, toners and peels that work through chemical action with AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids).
Masks that aim to detoxify skin will draw out the dirt, oil and bacteria causing pores to be clogged up. This too needs to be done consistently or pores will just clog back up rather than eventually return to their natural size. Aim to take a little self-care mask time once a week and opt for masks with charcoal in, known for its highly effective detox benefits.
If your larger pores are due to ageing skin, sun damage or skin trauma you’ll want to invest in stimulating collagen production. Besides sunscreen, retinoids are the only proven way to combat signs of ageing making them a sure way to get your money’s worth. This form of Vitamin A can be bought over-the-counter or prescribed by a dermatologist. Just remember to start slowly with this active ingredient!
It’s not a going to fix the problem but it’s a quick trick to hide away large pores while you put time into the above methods: silicone primers. They will smooth out your face so that foundation glides on and doesn’t set in and crease only to reveal your pores that much more. Here are our ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of applying primer.
While the above are going to help minimise large pores, you really want to work at preventing getting to that step. Luckily there’s two things to prevent clogged pores and weak collagen production: washing your face and sunscreen respectively.
You want to be washing your face at the start and end of every day, but if you’re exercising you should be gently cleansing before and after too. Double cleanse or use a make up remover if you’re not getting everything off with your usual cleanser, it’s super important to rid your face of any potential dirt that will clog up.
UV rays break down and damage collagen so if you want to keep your pores and general skin health in tact you want to be applying sunscreen everyday, before make up and after all other skincare. Try mineral-based sunscreens to avoid clogging.
Of course there are tons of in-office ways to manage large pores too. Speak to your dermatologist about your options.
Joëlle Davidson is Woman and Home’s Editorial Assistant whose two cats are very pleased she is typing from home these days. When Joëlle isn’t typing or reading she can be found enjoying the beauty of Cape Town’s outdoors. Or just the beauty of her favourite wine bar.