Our beauty expert gives you her scientific take on pores. Stuff like: what are open pores, can they be shrunk or closed, does age have anything to do with it, and last but not the least, what you can do if you find enlarged pores on your face. Ready to get smart on pores? Hop on! It's important to understand the basics before coming up with a skin care regime to tackle pores. So here are some basic questions about pores answered:
What really are open pores?
Pores are little openings on our skin, where hair follicles are located. Sebaceous glands, which produce the body's natural protective oil (sebum), are also found in these pores.
"Open pores" is generally used to denote visibly enlarged pores, typically on the face.
Does everyone have pores?
Yes, each one of us has pores all over the body. Only the palms of our hands and soles of our feet are without pores.
How come I see them only on my face?
The bigger the pores are, the more visible they are. Sebaceous glands on the upper torso are more active than on the rest of our body. Hence open pores are more visible on face, chest and back. And these are indeed the places, where acne, blackheads and other problems related to pores are seen.
Why are pores more visible on some people than on others?
Blame it on the genes! Some of us are "endowed" with sebaceous glands that produce more sebum (= oilier skin) than others. To accommodate this extra sebum production, the pores are larger, too. Sebum production is driven by hormones, and hence we do not (and should not) have much control over it. Taking care of skin to avoid the negative effects of excess sebum and larger pores (more on this below) is the way to go.
Can pores grow larger over time?
Yes. As we grow old , our cell renewal process slows down. Skin looks slack and pores tends to appear enlarged. Exposure to sun also plays an important role here. So you must build an antioxidant rich skin care regime, to expedite cell renewal process. SPF is a must. Importantly, pricking pimples or extracting blackheads roughly can also enlarge pores.
Is is true that I can open and close my pores by using ice and steam?
Not true! Splashing of cold water doesn't close open pores and nor does steam open the pore. Yes, steaming does help in loosening sebum build-up and dirt particles stuck inside the pore. Cleansing followed by steaming does give skin a "clean" look, and pores might appear smaller. Similarly, application of ice can give a temporary "shrunk" look to skin. That's your skin reacting to the cold. Not ice shrinking the pores.
So how do I makes pores smaller?
You really can never shrink pores permanently. But, enlarged open pore can be made to appear smaller or less obvious. Regular cleansing and exfoliation to clear sebum, makeup, dirt and dead skin build up is the best way to keep pores clean and clog-free. And cleaner pores appear less obvious.
Quite a few of us who have enlarged open pores (i.e oily skin), tend to skip the moisturizing step. But a good non-comedogenic moisturizer will help maintain healthy skin. Avoid over-cleansing the face. This can again can irritate skin and cause over-production of sebum. Also anti-oxidants play a very important role in cell renewal process, hence use skin care products, rich in anti-oxidants.
Can you recommend a full skin care regime for large open pores?
Here we go - a step-by-step skin care guide to handle open pores:
- Daily cleansing and bi-weekly exfoliation with cleanser and scrub: Don't forget the basics. Gentle soap-free face wash and mild non-irritating scrub. Anti-oxidant rich ingredients / AHAs and BHAs rich ingredient based products help in unclogging the pores and fastening cell renewal process.
- Use of toner: Great for oil-absorption, skin nourishment and toning, plus an additional cleansing step. Avoid alcohol in your toner as it can dry skin.
- Don't miss moisturizer: Using a non-comedogenic, matte effect moisturizer will help maintain the sebum balance.
- SPF: No matter what, never skip sun protection. As we grow older specially, due to sun exposure, our skin loses its collagen, hence skin sags, and our pores look bigger. So use SPF.
- Face mask/pack: Using a clay-based mask once a week is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Clay soaks excess oil and other impurities from skin. It also gives an immediate tightening effect, and helps making skin look taut and pores appear smaller.
- Use non-comodogenic skin care products. No heavy greasy creams. Clogging of pores can not only make them look bigger, but will almost certainly lead to blackheads or acne also.
- Avoid products that over-dry your skin (Yes, you read it right, over drying is NOT good), as it will trigger more oil production. Maintaining balance is important, hence steer clear from alcohol-based products and harsh scrubs. Exception: for acne-spot application you can use products containing alcohol. But certainly not for all over face.
- Apply primer, specially designed for oily skin, before foundation, while applying makeup. This will give smooth look to face.
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