The Pore House
All About Pores: What They Do and How to Minimize Their Appearance
by Antonette Alzate
Enlarged pores have become an increasingly common anti-aging concern—almost equal to that of wrinkles. It’s no surprise, really. We’re constantly exposed to airbrushed images of women with flawless, poreless complexions. That’s why one of the most common questions we receive is, “How can I get rid of or shrink my pores?”
The truth is: we cannot eliminate pores nor permanently reduce their size. Our skin is made up of millions of pores essential to healthy skin function—from secreting oil that helps maintain proper hydration to releasing perspiration that keeps our bodies cool and flushes out toxins. What we can do, however, is minimize their appearance. First off, it’s important to note the main factors that contribute to enlarged pores:
- Aging – As you get older, you lose collagen and elastin, which provide the structural support for connective tissue and organs. When the tissue becomes more relaxed, it causes pores to dilate.
- Sun damage – This causes inflammation on skin cells, which thickens the epidermis and creates a rim of cells around the pores, making them look larger.
- Genetics – You can blame your parents for this one. If you’ve inherited naturally oily or thick skin, your pores are most likely more noticeable than those with drier skin.
- Poor skin care hygiene – Clean skin means clearer pores. Dead skin cells, oils and bacteria can clog up your pores, causing them to expand.
How to Reduce the Look of Pores
- Cleanse regularly - Wash your face twice a day (excessive washing can lead to an overproduction of oil) to eliminate bacteria, dirt and oils. Nia 24’s Physical Cleansing Scrub deep cleans while gently exfoliating using jojoba beads infused with skin-fortifying niacin.
- Exfoliate – This helps remove dead skin cells that accumulate around the pores and allows new skin to surface. There are two kinds of exfoliants:
- Physical – This ranges from simple scrubs to professional microdermabrasions. Exfoliate one to two times a week for normal skin and up to three times a week for oily skin. Any more than that may cause damage and sensitivity. For professional treatments, it really depends on your skin type. If you have normal skin, a series followed by a maintenance treatment every two months is sufficient. For oily or acne-prone skin, it can be up to two a year plus maintenance treatments every month.
- Chemical – Look for products that contain retinol (topical vitamin A), alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs—fruit acids like glycolic, citric and lactic), or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs also known as salicylic acid). They speed up cellular turnover, slough off dulling debris and help decongest pores. A good one to try is Bioelements Quick Refiner, which uses a special blend of both acids to clear pores and improve skin’s texture.
- Minimize oil – Mattifying gels, pore-refining masks and oil-controlling serums like Pur Minerals’ See No More Pore Minimizer work to purify pores and absorb excess oil to minimize their appearance.
- Avoid pore-clogging ingredients – If you’re prone to acne, avoid ingredients that may clog pores such as wheat germ oil (known for its antioxidant and moisturizing benefits) and isopropyl myristate (found mostly in cosmetics for smooth application).
- Facials – These can be anything from professional exfoliations to extractions or more intensive treatments like the one that features an FDA-cleared suction device that “sucks” out oil and debris before shining a light that shrinks the sebaceous gland.
With all these advanced skin care treatments and products available to us, we can still create the illusion of poreless perfection.
Article posted 12/20/2011.
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