One of the biggest myths surrounding the vast world of the beauty industry is the promise that products can give you smaller, tighter pores. Let us clear things up once and for all: you cannot alter pore size with any skincare or makeup. And the reason is simple: pore size is determined by your genes. But before you feel helpless and throw out every product you’ve ever bought, there are still things you can control when it comes to your pores. But first, here are some facts you need to know about pores:
What are pores exactly?
For starters, pores are tiny openings on the skin surface (also known as hair follicles), through which sebum and sweat are excreted from the body. This explains why it is paramount to cleanse your skin thoroughly to keep pores clear. However, what happens more often than not is that sebum, sweat, dirt or makeup residue are not properly removed from our pores and left to accumulate.
Factor in the dozens of times we touch our face over the course of the day means we are also constantly introducing bacteria (including P. Acnes, which causes breakouts) into them. When a pore gets filled up with gunk and P. Acnes, it presents itself as a blackhead because the top of the oil plug gets oxidised and turns black. And this, in turn, causes your skin texture to look rough and bumpy because congested pores appear larger than pores that are clear.
What can topical products do?
While the physical size of your pores is determined by your genes, you have total control over how your pores look. All you have to do is cleanse thoroughly, regulate sebum secretion, as well as keep pores bacteria-free. And if you’re concerned with enlarged pores, look for products that contain exfoliating acids like AHAs and BHAs. AHAs (or alpha hydroxy acids) work on the skin surface by dissolving dead skin cells so they are not left to accumulate. On the other hand, BHAs (or beta hydroxy acids) work by penetrating into pores to eliminate sebum plugs.
Be it cleansers, serums, moisturisers or masks, many pore-refining products are formulated with a blend of AHAs and BHAs for optimal efficacy. And since these leave-on products are designed to be used daily, the concentration of acids tend to be lower for a gradual pore-purging action. Another common type of ingredient found in pore-minimising products (like masks) are clays like Kaolin and Bentonite. Due to their porous nature, these clays are highly absorbent and soak up excess sebum from deep within pores, keeping congestion at bay. Use these purifying masks all over the face once or twice a week to give skin an overall detox. Or you can use them locally on the T-zone or on breakouts as an SOS treatment.
Remember to commit to sunscreen
We cannot stress the importance of sunscreen enough — after all, it is the one skincare step which dermatologists agree is the most important anti-ageing precaution you can ever do for your skin. UV rays penetrate deep into skin layers to snip away at collagen fibres, resulting in a loss of elasticity. What does that have to do with pores, you might ask? Just lift your cheeks and notice how the pores on your cheeks instantly seem smaller. This is because as your skin loses its firmness, a tiny shadow is cast at each pore, and as a result, make them appear larger.