You have over 20,000 of them on your face, but how much do you really know about your pores?
Whatever your age, ethnicity or gender, everyone has pores. These tiny openings on the surface of the skin have never received so much attention; the ‘glass skin’ trend from Korea – when skin is so smooth and poreless it looks like glass – is taking over social media, a quick google of the term ‘how to shrink your pores’ brings back over 500,000 results and, according to research, one in three women now list large pores as their biggest skin concern, above wrinkles and pigmentation. However, poor pore knowledge means we’re still trying to steam them open to release impurities, so step away from Google because we’re sorting the facts from the fiction for you.
FACT: You can’t shrink the size of your pores
Let’s get this biggie out of the way first. One of the biggest myths regarding the pores is that you can make them smaller. In actual fact, the opposite of this is true. While pores can’t be shrunk, they can be stretched and enlarged. Think of your pores like an open door that makes it easier for sebum to be secreted onto the surface of the skin. When excessive amounts of sebum are produced, the pores expand to accommodate the volume of oil. Trapped dirt and impurities can also contribute to an increase in pore size, so it’s important to keep the skin as clear as possible if you want to maintain a poreless-looking complexion.
FICTION: You can open and close your pores
Your pores are essentially concave openings on the surface of the skin. They are not little mouths and they don’t have muscles, so they can’t be opened and closed at will. A common beauty myth that has been bandied about for decades states that heat will open your pores and a splash of cold water will instantly close them again. This is not true. Your pores are always open, they just look larger or more visible because they aren’t completely clean, and warming the skin simply makes any blockages within the pores easier to extract and cold water temporarily shocks your skin by lowering its temperature, making it feel momentarily tighter.
FACT: Pores become larger with age
As a child, the size of your pores is very small as they are surrounded by a sturdy ring of dermal collagen that keeps them in shape. This gradually thins out and decreases in size as you age (usually starting around adolescence), giving the pores room to relax, expand and, ultimately, increase in size. When you reach your 40s collagen production slows down dramatically, leading to less support within the skin and an increase in large and slack-looking pores.
FICTION: Clay masks are the only way to clear out blocked pores
OK, there is some truth to this statement. For a proper deep-down pore clear out, clay masks can work wonders. Natural clays and charcoal are able to soak up excess oils, impurities and dirt residing within the pores incredibly well, but they aren’t the only way to keep your skin looking pore-free. Salicylic Acid is oil-soluble so it can penetrate the pores and dissolve the debris clinging on inside, to restore a clarity that most other ingredients can’t achieve. AHAs will remove dead cells near the surface of the pore and anti-aging ingredients like Retinol, which improve collagen production and cell turnover, will firm and plump the skin, helping to visibly tighten the size of large pores. Just remember: the clearer the pore, the smaller it will look.
FACT: Popping a pimple can damage you pores
Sometimes it has to be done but popping pimples (whether blackheads or whiteheads) can do more harm than good. Squeezing a spot to make it burst puts pressure on the internal pore wall – especially if the spot in question is rather large – which can cause it to rupture and lead to an infection deep beneath the surface. This could lead to a large red lump forming with no head to pop and a nasty scar which will hang around much longer than a pimple.
FICTION: Only people with acne need to worry about blocked pores
It doesn’t take a skin care expert to work out that those with acne will also struggle with large pores, but they are not the only people who need to keep their pores clear. Any skin type will need to keep on top of pore blockages and use products to keep blackheads under control as it’s not just genetics that are responsible for increased oil production. Sensitive hormone receptors found in each pore react to stress, pollution, and changes in the environment, and when over-stimulated, they trigger the sebaceous glands to secrete more oil than normal.
Article from Skin Health Magazine