Enlarged and clogged pores on the face are a common and pervasive cosmetic concern. You may feel like you’ve tried everything, they can be very frustrating and difficult to get rid of.
Recently I spoke with a dermatologist about pores. Why pores get large and clogged, and how to shrink and minimize pores. Now I’d like to share those tips with you!
Pores is a lay term that corresponds to visible openings on the surface of the skin, that correlate with a hair follicle and its associated oil gland.
Now while the exact cause of enlarged pores is not completely understood, it’s thought to be due to a few factors: increase of oil production, photo damage, and skin aging. Aging, sun damaged skin has a disrupted collagen framework. This collagen framework is important in supporting the follicle. And when it’s damaged, the follicle becomes more dilated and prominent.
Other potential causes include a genetic predisposition, cosmetic ingredients that clog pores, and you may have noticed a correlation between your menstrual cycle and the noticeability of pores on your face. Progesterone levels, which are increased during ovulation, actually increase the rate of oil production in our skin, potentially contributing to the increased noticeability of the pores on your face.
How to minimize enlarged clogged pores
What can you do? Here are some tips on how to shrink and minimize large and clogged pores.
Don’t use bar soaps on your face
Some bar soaps contain ingredients that are necessary to keep them as solids. These ingredients can clog pores and make them large.
Avoid oil-based cosmetics and foundations
Specifically look for the term ‘non-comedogenic’. That term implies it won’t clog your pores.
Use only water-soluble gentle cleansers
Avoid harsh alcohol-based drying solutions. Drying out the skin and the surface of the skin actually further increases the rate of oil production in a compensatory mechanism to improve hydration of the skin. This increased oil production will further clog and enlarge your pores.
Never go to bed without washing your makeup off
That’s really silly. Neglecting to do so only further clogs your pores.
Avoid using harsh exfoliants on your face
You really can’t scrub away blackheads, so stop trying. You’re only making the matters worse by increasing the flakiness of your skin. Flaky skin has nowhere else to go, but clogging your pores and making them large.
What should you use?
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that has a predilection for the oily surfaces of our skin, and can help break down clogged pores. Dermatologists recommend a leave on salicylic acid based gel or liquid. Apply it to the skin and leave it on while you sleep.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution is a two percent salicylic acid treatment solution is a pore minimizer that helps exfoliate the inside walls of pores to fight the appearance of clogged pores and other blemishes. Paula’s Choice BHAs come in 3 formulas: Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, which is slightly oily, Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant, which is more liquid and light, and Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant, which is more thick and easy to apply on spots and certain areas.
Chemical peels are used in skin rejuvenation, and they work either at the surface of the skin or a little bit deeper. With regards to enlarged pores specifically, there are studies that demonstrate that glycolic acid based chemical peels can work as a pore minimizer, improve the appearance of enlarged pores and decrease their diameter.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is a buffet of different AHA’s, it’s got lactic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, glycolic acid, and all of these, as the title suggests, are AHA’s which helps to break down dead skin, it helps to decongest and shrink pores. It also has Tasmanian pepperberry, which is super high in antioxidants, and also helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
COSRX also has an AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid which is also an effective pore minimizer, and the DERMA E Overnight Peel is a gentle chemical peel good for sensitive skin as well.
Glycolic acid is really gentle on the skin, so try to use this. If it stings at all, just build up your tolerance, use it every two-three days, and your skin will slowly adjust to it.
Topical retinoids like adapalene, tazarotene, or tretinoin can unclog and shrink pores, improve the look of aged and sun damaged skin. Retinoids are effective as pore minimizers, regulating skin cell turnover, controlling the formation of comedones, and reducing inflammation deep in the skin.
Dermatologists recommend Differin Gel, it contains 0.1% retinoid adapalene, which is gentler on your skin, while still effective. Previously in the United States this was only available by prescription, but you can now pick this up over-the-counter.
So these are the dermatologist tips on how to shrink and minimize pores, and the products for large and clogged pores. Try them out, and enjoy your glowing skin!