Sometimes trying to tackle enlarged pores feels like peeing into the wind.
The belief is often that your pore size cannot be controlled at all, that is solely down to your genetics and that you may as well invest in a Polyfilla primer. This is slightly true and slightly false.
Pore size is technically hereditary and has to do with your makeup… your genetic makeup, that is, not the stuff you put on your face.
However, the ageing process and congestion of the pores can affect pore size too.
What causes large pores?
As we get older, our skin starts to lose its elasticity as we simply don’t make enough elastin anymore.
Elastin is a protein you’ll most likely find in the dermis that gives the skin its stretch and allows it to snap to our contours.
This is the reason why you could bounce a 2 cent coin off the cheeks of children – don’t do this though, please.
The belief is often that your pore size cannot be controlled at all… this is slightly true and slightly false.
When our Skin loses its elasticity so do our pores and they may become lax and thus look wider.
Accelerated ageing is another reason for large pores as many things can damage our elastin outside of our chronological ageing process.
Sun, smoking and sugar (yes, really) are examples of everyday things that can greatly affect whether your elastin degrades sooner rather than later.
Throw down the cig and pop a broad-spectrum sunscreen on stat if you want to keep those pores tight.
Oily skin is often associated with larger pore size. I believe that this is due to the likelihood of sebum building up in the pore.
Even if you are oily-skinned but technically spot-free, your pores may still be congested.
Dead skin cells plus excess sebum can lead to a plug in the pore that in some will become a true spot but may remain flat and non-inflammatory in others.
The pore has to stretch around this plug day in, day out, without snapping back to its usual size.
If you’ve been using pore strips to “make pores smaller” or “remove the debris”, please ditch ‘em.
What happens when you do something everyday? You get used to it, and as we as humans know, it is hard to break the type of habit that develops over a prolonged amount of time.
So, these pores, always filled up, become stretched and lose their rubber-bandness.
Another thing that can factor in to pore size is mechanical damage to the pore – this means any picking, poking, prodding or “extracting” done to the pore by someone who isn’t a professional.
This type of lark can damage the pore to the point of it not being able to snap back.
The “normal” pore is barely visible and no larger than the tip of a safety pin. You’re able to see them up close when you examine your skin but you would not be able to clearly see them from even an arm’s length away.
If your pores are larger than this and are visibly noticeable without having to get closer to the mirror for inspection, you may have slightly larger pores.
So, what can we do about large pores?
We can protect them from getting larger by ditching the lifestyle habits that accelerate the ageing process.
Wear a broad-spectrum SPF daily, put out the cigs and cut sugar where you can as sugar causes something called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) which attack your skin’s collagen and elastin.
Regular exfoliation with chemicals, not scrubs, is key to making pores appear smaller and keeping them that way.
Seeing as most people looking for large pore advice are oily, I’d specifically suggest salicylic acid as it not only works to exfoliate but can actually penetrate into the pore to clear it out.
Alternatively, you can use glycolic acid, lactic acid, poly-hydroxy acid, azelaic acid- anything that exfoliates, really.
Glycolic is best for a normal skin or an older skin, whereas lactic acid, being hydrating, is best for a dryer skin.
On that note, if you’ve been using pore strips to “make pores smaller” or “remove the debris”, please ditch ‘em.
They’re not doing what they say they do as they can only pull out as far as they can reach which is just the top of the plug/blackhead. They are not making your pores smaller at all. I swear.
Topical vitamin A (retinyl palmitate, retinol or retinoids) can strengthen the structure of the pore itself and repair the DNA of skin cells so start getting that on to you.
Niacinamide is another ingredient that is fab for making pores look smaller… as well as being great for pigmentation and oil control. It’s just a wonder.
Jennifer Rock is the founder of The Skin Nerd online skin consultancy and online cosmeceutical skincare store. If you’re interested in having a consultation with one of her expert Nerdettes, click here for more information.