Today I’m going to be covering a very popular question – how can I reduce large pores on my face.
I know many of you suffer with enlarged pores and that can really affect your self-esteem. So I hope my tips and skincare products will be helpful to you.
Pores are sort of like columns that empty out under the surface of the skin and they empty out oil from our sebaceous gland.
That oil helps our skin, which means that pores are a vital structure to our skin biology and you can’t destroy them nor would you want to destroy them.
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Cause of Large Pores
Pore size however can appear enlarged for a variety of reasons.
The first reason is that the surrounding structure of the skin around the pore is compromised and therefore does not provide a supportive framework around the pore and as a result, it becomes dilated in appearance and to the eye it looks larger.
A second reason for prominent pores is that they become filled with dead skin cells that are turning over and don’t quite make it to the surface, backed up sebum oil and cellular debris.
A third reason for enlarged pores has to do with the associated oil gland. The pore is associated with a little oil gland called the sebaceous gland and for whatever reason, depending on your genetics, that oil gland can be pretty large. If you have a very large oil glands, they got away down the pore a little bit and pull it out.
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How to Reduce Large Pores on Your Face
One of the greatest mistakes that people make in terms of their pores is neglecting sunscreen. Sunscreen is very important for the health of your skin and when your skin is exposed to UV light, that UV activates something called matrix metalloproteinases in your skin that damages the supportive collagen framework of your skin.
This is one of the reasons why with age many people will complain of new enlarged pores. They say I never had super oily skin and now that I’m in my 40s, 50s or 60s, my pores are suddenly large. Why is that?
It’s an effect of photo aging and a preventive strategy against that is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily.
I think people are very phobic of sunscreens. Many people feel they break them out, cause their face look oily, and they worry that they clog their pores.
Some sunscreens that I recommend are fantastic. First of all is the Dermatology broad-spectrum SPF 45
This is a sunscreen that has both zinc as well as some chemical filters. It also contains niacinamide, which is an ingredient that has been shown to be helpful for the skin barrier and for skin health as well as helpful in oiliness and sebum production. So it’s wonderful for people with enlarged pores. This is not greasy and is oil-free.
Another option is La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Fluid.
This is an exclusively chemical sunscreen and it leaves a very matte finish, so it will not exacerbate the appearance of your pores. It will protect your skin quite nicely from ultraviolet radiation that can damage your skin and make your pores appear more prominent.
So the first mistake is not wearing sunscreen. The second mistake is not using a moisturizer. People with oily skin and prominent pores fear using moisturizers. They think that they are going to clog their pores and make the pores appear more prominent.
A failure to moisturize your skin results in an impaired skin barrier and skin dryness. When the skin becomes dry, it becomes very easily irritated and easily inflamed and when inflammation comes into the skin, it localizes around the pore and in doing so it actually can drive a little bit of sebum production and make your skin oily and make your pores more prominent, more prone to clogging.
So failure to use a moisturizer is a huge mistake for people with enlarged pores.
It’s difficult though to choose a moisturizer because some heavy moisturizers can be a little too occlusive and cause a backup in the normal turnover of the cells within the pore and lead to plugging up of the pore.
Select an oil-free moisturizer. One that I recommend is a DEEP DIVE Water Cream by Red Earth.
I’ve used this for a long time and I love it. This product is fantastic for people with oily prone skin and enlarged pores because it is oil free and it is a water-based humectant rich moisturizer.
It allows for increased hydration and really helps you plump up the supportive framework around the pores and nicely diminish the appearance of your pore size and keep your skin barrier healthy.
The other reason that I love this product is that it contains ceramides. These are a key component in your skin barrier and they are helpful for restoring the skin barrier when applied exogenously. That is exactly what you need when you are tackling enlarged pores.
It as a water gel moisturizer and it is very nice and comfortable to wear. It is oil-free and it’s super lightweight, it’s not heavy so it’s not going to plug up the pores or cause backup of skin cell turnover within the pores that can lead to prominent pores. It is a perfect moisturizer for people with enlarged pores.
The other reason I really love it is that it has polymers that act like thickeners within the product. They’re really nice because they help you scatter and reflect light off of the surface of your skin, which nicely camouflages those pores just by scattering light around. Not only is that helpful for diminishing the appearance of the pores, but it’s also helpful if you have some fine lines and wrinkles.
Another moisturizer that I also really like quite a bit is my Freederm Overnight Clearing Serum.
It has niacinamide in it, which has been shown to be helpful for inflammation in the skin, calming down redness and can also be helpful for diminishing the appearance of pores. This one is very lightweight and oil-free.
As I said at the start of the article, another reason why pores become more prominent is that they sometimes become filled with things like oil, cellular debris and dead skin cells.
Using an active ingredient that can help to break some of that up and expedite its clearance will help in diminishing the appearance of pores.
One such ingredient that does this very effectively is salicylic acid. It is a beta hydroxy acid and unlike alpha hydroxy acid, which you may have heard about, beta hydroxy acid has an affinity for the pore and for the oil gland.
It will nicely concentrate there and help to unplug that cellular debris and that backed up sebum much more efficiently than an alpha hydroxy acid will.
One of my favorite products that contains salicylic acid is the YourGoodSkin Rapid Rescue Treatment.
It also contains the botanic green tea extract that has been shown in some small studies to diminish the appearance of large pores. So coupled with a known pore fighting ingredient, salicylic acid, this is a fantastic product.
While salicylic acid can be on the drying side, I find that the formulation of this product makes it ideally suited for combating that excessive dryness that you can get with salicylic acid. It’s really nice product, it’s cost-effective and you only need a tiny pea-sized amount.
The other beta hydroxy acid product of that recommend is the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Serum.
I really love this product because not only does it have the La Roche-Posay’s patented LHA, which is a modified salicylic acid, which actually can penetrate a little bit deeper into the oil gland and a little more efficiently.
I also like this because it is a hydrating hyaluronic acid vehicle. It is nicely formulated to combat some of the dryness that one might expect with using salicylic acid.
The second ingredient that you should consider is a retinoid. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that can actually help shrink oil glands. It will also help you to break up some of those sloughed-off skin cells within the pore and it’s an ingredient that will help to train the skin cells to not plug up so much and to behave a little bit more properly.
Retinoids are prescription medications for the most part, with the exception of Differin gel Adapalene.
This is a retinoid and this is a wonderful choice for people with enlarged pores. It can definitely diminish the appearance of your pores by unplugging the dead skin cells and treating the skin cells to behave a little bit more properly.
You might be wondering about retinol or retinol serums. They are also a good choice, however, they require your skin to do a little bit more of its own biology on them in order to get them to work. They’re not quite as reliable but they are an option.
What You Must Do?
These are active ingredients that will help to unclog the pores. But a side effect of these is drying. If you are somebody coping with enlarged pores and you fail to use these alongside a moisturizer, your pores might become more noticeable or you won’t see a difference.
You have to do two things at once. You have to unclog but make sure you are addressing the skin barrier by moisturizing.
The way to incorporate these into a routine is to use them at night time. First cleanse your face, then use the moisturizer, allow the moisturizer to dry and then apply one of these products that contains one of these active ingredients.
If you have enlarged pores on one particular location of your face and that’s the only place that bothers you, that’s the only place that you have to use these active ingredients.
Outside of the products that you are using, the fourth thing that I will draw to your attention is smoking cessation.
If you smoke, if you use tobacco, you have to quit. First of all, it causes lung cancer and it ages every body system known to man. The list of problems associated with smoking is huge.
One such effect is enlarging your pores because tobacco smoke activates enzymes in your skin and destroys the collagen framework faster than UV exposure.
A particularly destructive force is the combination of tobacco smoke with UV exposure. This causes an aggressive destruction of the deeper layers of your skin, the supportive framework and causes a specific type of enlarged pores.
I get questions about procedures that we can do in the office of dermatologists to help enlarged pores.
Cosmetic peels are an option but they’re not going to permanently get rid of the appearance of enlarged pores. You still do need to do some sort of a maintenance regimen with moisturizers, sunscreens and salicylic acid. There are certain laser and light based technologies in the office that can also be useful for improving the appearance of pores.
One is an IPL device that is coupled to a suction device and this serves to help strengthen the surrounding layers of the skin as well as to suction out a little bit of that cellular debris in a gentle manner.
After one of these procedures you will notice a luminosity to your skin and that your pores appear diminished. But as with the chemical peel, this is not long-lasting. You still need to keep up with sunscreen, moisturizer and potentially one of these active ingredients like salicylic acid.
Another option is resurfacing lasers. They can help in boosting the collagen framework of the surrounding skin and help to make that surrounding structural support greater, stronger and in doing so diminish the appearance of pores. Blue and red light LED treatments can also be helpful for some concerns related to enlarged pores.