Let’s face it, first impressions count and people make snap judgments about how we look. Now it would be great if we could have flawless ‘magazine cover’ skin (Photoshop knows how it’s done), but the reality is bad breakouts and visible pores are a thing. So what’s the deal with pores?
With a ton of tips and misconceptions flying around on ‘how to get the perfect pores’, I had no idea what worked and what didn’t work (you can’t believe everything on the internet). So, I decided to delve a little deeper, debunk these pore myths and get to the bottom of managing pores.
Myth: We can shrink large pores?
First things first, we need to establish that there is no such thing as large pores (say what??!)
The size of our pores comes down to genetics. They are something we are born with and some people are just blessed with how their body manages pores.
Our pores are basically hair follicles that open on the skin surface. As hair is so fine, these pores are usually barely visible to the naked eye. Sebaceous glands, lying below our hair follicles, ensure sebum (our bodies’ natural oils) is brought to the surface of the skin, keeping it hydrated and healthy. Hormones control whether we have underactive or overactive sebaceous glands, and therefore the amount of oil we produce. The problem comes in when our body produces excess oil which combines with dirt, skin debris and bacteria. This build up of gunk essentially clogs our pores and creates the appearance of large pores.
Aging is also our biggest downfall. It would be a gift from up high if we could maintain our eternal youth. However, the fact of the matter remains that our pores become less and less resistant with age and tend to stretch and consequently look larger.
And no, it’s not possible to shrink our pores. There is unfortunately no magical wand that can abracadabra large pores away.
Myth: Popping pimples helps unclog the pores
This is a definite no no. There is nothing worse than a nasty breakout and it’s so tempting to go on a pimple popping mission (surely better out than in, right? Wrong!). The truth is, popping pimples not only stretches the pores, but spreads bacteria into your skin, causing more breakouts.
Myth: Pores can open and close
Although there is indeed some degree of constriction and dilation involved, there is no opening and closing of pores. In conjunction with this, there is the misconception that steam opens up the pores. In reality it merely loosens the contents of the pores as they dilate. So there is no way to change the size of the pores, you can just clean them out.
Myth: Drinking water closes pores
It is a common belief that cold water closes the pores. Sorry to burst the bubble but water is not as effective as we may think. The fact of the matter is drinking water is not enough to ensure your skin is fully hydrated. Yes, drinking plenty of water improves our overall health, but we need something more to improve the condition of the skin.
Myth: Baking soda does the trick
The old wives hack of using baking soda to close the pores is sworn to by many. But does it really work? The straight answer is no. Baking soda is in actual fact extremely harsh on the skin and can even clog up pores even more.
Fact – here are some skincare habits to help manage pores:
So, if we can’t get rid of our pores entirely, how do manage our pores and minimise the appearance of enlarged pores? For the love of flawless skin, it all comes down to good skin care practices that will prevent clogged pores and improve the overall condition of our skin. In other words, maintaining a perfect balance of cleansing, exfoliation, hydration and protection.
A healthy skin also tends to have a smoother, plumper and more refined appearance, which will make pores less visible.
Keeping your face squeaky clean
- Choose a gentle face wash that will reduce oiliness and unclog pores.
- Wash your face everyday to prevent an oil-build up in the skin and ensure the grime of the day has been removed. It’s however never a good idea to wash your face too often (no more than twice per day), as it tends to strip natural oils from the skin, leaving it dry and prone to irritation. For those with oil-prone skin, check out this cleansing regime to keep your face looking nice and matte for the approaching summer.
- Bath your face in warm water and apply your cleanser using gentle circular motions. Rinse away with warm water and pat dry with a clean face towel.
- Never, ever sleep with makeup on (always wash off at the end of the day). Leftover makeup wreaks havoc in the pores, clogging them and causing them to stretch.
- Keep face wipes by your bed for times when you simply have no time to clean your face properly at night.
Exfoliation – it’s time spring clean your skin
- Choosing the right exfoliant is super important. It should be gentle on the skin and your skin should not be scrubbed too vigorously.
- AHA and BHA exfoliants would be the best bet.
- Salicylic acid works wonders in removing dead skin build-up in the skin surface.
- Chemical peels are also a great way to reduce the appearance of enlarged, aging pores
- Retinol (vitamin A) is a proven ingredient for managing pores. Increasing cell turnover and improving the thickness of the skin, retinol helps unplug excess oil in the skin.
Pat on a clay mask
A clay mask is a great way to soak up excess oil in congested pores.
Pile on the SPF
Damaged skin becomes less bouncy, which isn’t good news for pores. Make sure you use a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen every day.
Soak up the oils with a regular moisturising regime
Choosing a non-comedogenic moisturiser that won’t clog the pores is key. For those with an oily skin type, there is often the misconception that it’s not necessary to moisturise. On the contrary, it is super important that we all moisturise twice a day, or else the skin over-compensates by producing excess oil.
How have you managed your pores? I’d like to know. Feel free to share your story below.