If you’re guilty of staring at your skin with a magnifying mirror and wondering how to minimize pores or to shrink pores permanently—you have plenty of company. We can blame Photoshop and social media filters for convincing us that achieving pore-free skin is possible. The reality is that our pores play an important role in healthy skin functions, by providing moisture and acting as a conduit for excretion (ie: sweating). With this in mind, the idea of ‘closing pores’ or erasing them is not only implausible, but unhealthy.
What that said, if you have noticed your pores seemingly getting larger, it’s not your imagination. In this post we will explain why this phenomenon occurs and what you can do about it.
Why pores enlarge over time
Your skin naturally exfoliates and renews itself every month; however in your early twenties this process begins to slow down which has a two-fold effect on your pores:
1. Surface dead skin cells build up in the pores forming comedones (a.k.a blackheads), thereby making the pores more visible and in some cases distending them. This process also cause the skin surface to look textured and to feel rough to the touch.
2. The production of new collagen diminishes by 1 per cent each year after the age of 20. As a result the dermis (the layer of your skin where collagen lives) thins, and the pores which were once supported by plump and dense connective tissue become flattened.
How to minimize pores on the face
Before we delve into how to minimize pores it is important to understand that your pore size is determined by genetics. The size of your pores relates to how much sebum your skin produces which correlates to your skin type (oily/normal/dry/combination). As a result, you cannot change the size of your pores, but there are steps you can take that will make those pores look more refined.
At home options
A skincare routine that maintains optimal skin health and keep enlarged pores at bay will include:
Sunscreen. This offsets the negative effects of ultraviolet light that damages collagen (and more).
Vitamin C or an antioxidant serum to minimize free-radical and UV damage while promoting collagen synthesis.
Proper hydration and moisture based on your skin type. This will most likely include a hydrating serum in conjunction with a moisturizer. When your skin is properly hydrated, the natural cell renewal process works efficiently to slough away dead skin cells. If your skin is dehydrated, this process is disrupted which leads to the build up of dead skin cells which as mentioned above can enlarge your pores.
Exfoliation. An effective exfoliation step in your routine will include either a retinol serum or a chemical exfoliant. Physical exfoliants feel great, but they don’t do much to encourage cell renewal and collagen production. Exfoliants with alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic acid or glycolic acids are great options, or you could consider using retinol. NOTE: whether you opt to work with retinol or with an acid-based exfoliant, it is important to follow the guidance of a certified skin expert as these ingredients have side effects and contraindications. Working with a trained skincare professional will ensure you get the best results for your skin.
Once you have a solid routine at-home, the next step to up-level your skin health and minimize pores is a professional treatment plan.
Monthly professional skin treatments boosts the skin functions beyond what can be achieved at home. The ideal treatment for you will depend on your skin type, condition and goals; however if pores size is one of your biggest concerns, we recommend upping the ante and opting for advanced resurfacing treatments such as chemical peels or microdermabrasion.
The holy grail solution: microneedling to minimize pores
Microneedling is one of the safest and most powerful ways to flip the switch on the overall quality of your skin without the risk and downtime that lasers and radiofrequency devices pose. By creating millions of microchannels in the skin, SkinPen® microneedling treatments repair damaged collagen and significantly increase production of this firming fiber. The result of this increased collagen is a denser dermis which helps to support/lift up the follicle, thus making the pore appear smaller/more refined.
As you’ve learned, the good news is that what helps minimize pores is fairly straight forward, but it does require being committed to your skin. The quick fixes that promise to shrink pores instantly or to close pores permanently are generally not beneficial for your skin. As certified skin therapists with a combined experience of decades, we know that the best results are achieved when you work with nature rather than against it. In other words: learn to love your skin by accepting it and caring for it in the best ways possible. If you need guidance on how to go about that we invite you to book a collaboration to get in depth advice for your skin.