The Hole Truth About Pores

May 4, 2020
Understand how pores work and what they say about your skin.
Enlarged pores take-up a lot of space in the skincare world. Every other product on the market has it's claims about reducing, minimizing, and unclogging.
Understandably, a lot of people want their facial skin to have a smooth, pore-less quality. Everyone has pores, but those lucky enough to be blessed with tiny pores tend to have flawless looking faces. 
Clogged pores can contribute to blemishes and an enlarged appearance, so it's best to give your skin room to breathe. But between trying to keep our skin moisturized and our pores free and breezy, skincare can be downright confusing!
The problem is, with enlarged pores being such a common problem, there is a lot of inaccurate information out there. 
There are certain genetic realities we have to make peace with when it comes to our looks- but if you're looking to reduce the appearance of your pores and keep your skin clear, there are some things you can do without falling for the promises on a pretty package.
What are Pores?
Before we seek to reduce our pores, we have to understand what pores are, how they function, and what they're doing on our pretty little faces.
Many people use "pores" as a catch-all term for the tiny openings we may see on certain parts of our body, especially our faces. The thing is, there are actually two kinds of pores at work here.
You have sweat pores sprinkled across your entire body to keep you comfortable. They work with the sweat glands to secrete a cooling liquid when you're hot to trot. Some parts of the body have more sweat pores than others- like your hands, feet, underarms, and groin. You don't really have to worry about these pores getting clogged, it doesn't happen often.
Hair follicles, on the other hand, work with your oil glands to deliver oil to your skin's surface. This is an important task because your natural oils serve to nourish your skin. Like sweat pores, you have oil secreting hair follicles over your body, except for your palms and the soles of your feet. These can become clogged very easily, so learning how they function can help you maintain smooth, glowing skin.
How do Pores Become Clogged, and Why does it Matter?
When dead skin gets trapped in your follicles, they become irritated and inflamed. While your pore size is pre-determined by genetics, having clogged pores can stretch them out, causing an enlarged appearance. When a pore is irritated and inflamed, it can lead to:
  • Enlarged appearance of pores.
  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Acne
  • Milia (tiny white bumps.)
None of these things are life-threatening of course, but they're a sign that something's up with your skin, and you may need to change up your routine so everything can function properly.
What Ingredients Clog Pores?
Remember, everyone's skin is so different. Your friend may swear by coconut oil, but it's a known comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores and cause blackheads. You need to find a skincare cocktail that's right for you, and that may change with age, or even the seasons.
If you're prone to blemishes, here are a few ingredients that tend to clog pores:
If you're prone to blemishes AND have patches of dry skin, you'll need to embrace spot treatments. For example, a product high in alcohol may do a great job of drying out your pimples, but it's too harsh when used all over your delicate face.
How do I Minimize Pores?
You can't get rid of your pores. And you can't really shrink them, scientifically speaking. Your pore size is determined by a myriad of factors, and those clear-skinned, poreless looking people are, for the most part, lucky.
But just because you didn't hit the genetic jackpot, doesn't mean you can't do your best to minimize the appearance of pores, and keep them clean.
Pore Strips
If blackheads are driving you crazy, pore strips can be a satisfying quick fix. They will pull out the offending blockage, but they don't really get to the root of the problem. There's nothing wrong with a little pore strip action for a night out or a photoshoot, but you'll want to embrace healthy habits to prevent future problems.
Cleanse and Exfoliate
So, we've learned that dead skin can become trapped inside your sweat glands, causing all kinds of irritation and inflammation. This happens more as we get older because cell renewal tends to slow down, but that doesn't mean you can't give your skin a little boost.
Reach for cleansers with small amounts of salicylic or glycolic acids. These will naturally exfoliate that dead layer of skin, and encourage those lazy cells to get to work.
Chemical or "liquid" exfoliants do exist and can be used as a toner. They tend to be mild enough for everyday use, but can be drying- so it may take you a minute to find the right potion for you.
Physical (or manual) exfoliators are products made with grainy materials to scrub away at dead skin. These are effective, but generally too harsh for daily use. 
Grab a manual scrub for an intensive, once a week treatment. Those pores won't know what hit them!
Lotions and Creams
Try to avoid thick face lotions and creams. If you have dry patches, you may want to use small amounts of rich lotion in those areas after cleansing and toning. Otherwise, a light breathable lotion is your best friend.
Hot or Cold- Does Temperature Affect Pores?
There is an idea floating around the beauty industry that heat "opens" pores, while cold "closes" them. This is sort of true, but not really. Your pores are always "open." They will soften up in warm temperatures, which makes it easier to extract blemishes, so gently cleansing your warm skin may be effective for targeting those pores.
Being born with large or small pores doesn't say anything about the amazing person you are, so try not to sweat it when you see a blackhead. Just take deep, calming breaths, reach for your trusty cleanser, and embrace your wonderful natural self.
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