So, you've overcome teenage acne, treated any scars caused from squeezing (yes we’ve all done it) and dealt with those tricky blackheads. But there's one thing preventing you from achieving a flawless complexion - enlarged pores - and you aren't alone.
Although we may not like the size of our pores, they do have a purpose, I promise. They are tiny openings to hair follicles and each one produces a natural oil which helps us maintain healthy skin and actually reduces the appearance of wrinkles! These oils protect us against infection and dryness. Although pores serve an important function, they can still be unsightly and annoying, especially as most of us are constantly on close up cameras using our smartphones. But despite what you may have heard about pores, there is actually no real way to 'close' them, sorry.
It’s a myth to think that certain products such as toners and other treatments close pores. Many can help to minimise the appearance of them, but because pores don't have muscles around them, they can’t open or close.
What Causes Enlarged Pores?
Whilst many of us may have inherited pores on the larger side from our parents (thanks mum and dad), there are a few other causes that you might not be aware of. Some we can control and others we can't:
Ageing: we naturally lose collagen and elastin which are the proteins that give the skin its strength and elasticity.
Hormones: increased levels of androgen hormones (such as testosterone) are a contributing factor to acne. In acne, there is an overproduction of oil along with trapped dirt and dead skin cells, which cause blocked and enlarged pores.
Sun Damage: I know, I keep going on about this but UV light really is the skin's enemy. It causes skin to lose elasticity, so pores become more dilated.
Environmental Pollutants: These can block and stretch out pores, making them appear larger.
What we put on our skin also affects the size of our pores. Common skin ingredients to avoid are coconut oil, marula oil and palm oil. Though they may be very hydrating, they can also be extremely comedogenic (pore-blocking). Lanolins are hailed for their conditioning properties for the skin but can also cause pore blockage.
So if we can't get rid of enlarged pores entirely, what are the most effective ways to look after them?
Make cleansing your priority
Keeping your pores clean and clear will help stop them getting blocked and reduce the likelihood of blemishes producing. Make sure you choose a gentle facial cleanser, one that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. Using harsh washes will remove too much from your skin’s barrier and therefore your body will produce even more oil, this can result in a more oily complexion. Opt for sls free. I recommend using Refreshing Face Wash morning and night. The sweet orange in it also helps to balance oil levels and gives your skin a beautiful glow.
Scrub, Scrub, Scrub
Start using a face scrub regularly that is gentle but effective, like Radiance Face Scrub. It’s a fantastic way to remove any dead cells that build up on the surface of the skin. Not eliminating these will cause pores to become blocked and therefore will look more enlarged.
Pores are open for a few reasons - dehydration (a lack of water in the skin, not dry skin), part of the ageing process and genetics. This is why it’s so important to maintain moisture levels in the skin - but how? Hydrating products and anything that will flood the surface of the skin with moisture are great for reducing pores. Not only will these help smooth out lines but they give the appearance of snapping the pores closed. Adding any products that contain hyaluronic acid are winners, like Hydrating Rose Mist.
Choose your daily SPF carefully
Even though you may think that your skin looks and feels healthier when it has a tanned glow, it has been suggested that heat and UV rays act as a pore-size inducer - and it could be down to the loss of moisture.
Being exposed to the sun is very likely to dry the skin, and long term, this can make pores appear open and enlarged. That said, many inexpensive sun lotions are likely to be heavily zinc-based and the chalky white substance may sit in open pores. This causes a plug and can give the appearance of reduced pore size but, over time, this can actually result in blackheads as the pore becomes blocked.
Choose an SPF that has great hydrating properties. Look for those that are in a gel or lotion form. Many people with acne-prone skin do better with mineral sunscreens usually containing ingredients such as titanium oxide.