Should I Be Worried About The Size of My Pores?
Unless you are one of those super lucky people, most of us generally have visible pores on our face. Some of us can’t stand how large our pores are and try every method we can to “shrink” them and make them invisible. Everyone wants to have perfect, poreless skin, but the truth is none of us can have poreless skin. It’s pretty much impossible… because everyone has pores! We can’t get rid of pores, and honestly, we shouldn’t want to because pores are important for our skin!
What are Pores?
Pores are basically tiny little openings in the skin for microscopic molecules to pass through. They release sweat and oil and can also be found at the top of hair follicles. Sebum, which is the oil our sebaceous glands produce, release sebum through pores to keep our skin soft and moisturized. No matter how big your pores are, they are really essential for the skin to breathe, and are the link between the skin and the environment. When we talk about pores, we are usually referring to oil pores, which are the openings that can be seen in our skin visibly. Oil pores can be larger depending on the level of oil gland activity. If your oil glands produce more oil, your oil pores are more likely to be larger and more visible since a larger opening is needed to secrete a greater amount of oil. Oil pores are mostly found all over the skin except the hands and soles of your feet. We also have smaller pores called sweat pores that are too small to be seen with our naked eyes.
What are the Functions of Pores?
Pores are pretty important for our skin to function. The oil pores are the channel through which the oil produced by the sebaceous glands can get to the surface of the skin to add moisture and lubrication. Sebum is what keeps our skin soft, supple, and moisturized. If you shrunk the size of your pores, then not enough oil would be able to reach the surface of your skin, resulting in dry and damaged skin. Meanwhile, sweat pores also help your sweat to move from the sweat glands to the skin surface when your body temperature rises. The sweat that evaporates off the skin surface allows for cooling of the body, which is crucial to make sure you do not overheat.
Facts About Pores
1. Pores are very much genetic
The main reason we can’t make our pores smaller is that pore size is very much genetic! If you are someone who has an oilier skin type, your pores are likely to be larger because logically a larger channel is needed to let higher volumes of oil pass through. Even your ethnicity can play a part in this. For example, Asians are more likely to have larger pores than Caucasians because they have higher levels of oil production. This is interestingly also the reason why Asians age much slower and more gracefully than Caucasians because they have higher levels of oil and sebum that keep their skin from wrinkling too quickly.
2. Aging can cause your pores to expand
Yes, you heard that right. Aging can cause your pore size to expand. But wait, didn’t you just say that pores cannot shrink? If pores cannot shrink how can pores expand? There’s a perfectly scientific reason for how this occurs, and it relates to the process of aging. As we age we begin to lose elasticity in the skin as collagen begins to decrease in production. Elasticity is what keeps our skin supple and firm. As we lose collagen, the skin begins to loosen and sag, and as this happens the pores begin to dilate and hence become larger as the skin weighs down, pulling the pores open.
3. Overexposure to the sun can also cause the pores to get bigger
Apart from aging, overexposure to the sun can also result in expanded pores. We all know that the sun is a big enemy of our skin, and this is just more evidence of it! Sun exposure causes lots of damage to the skin due to the free radicals present in UV rays. These free radicals compromise the skin barrier and inflame the skin cells which leads to the cells becoming thicker. These damaged cells will form around the edge of pores, emphasizing the pore and making it even more visible. So if you are someone who enjoys being in the sun… the best advice is to stay out of the sun as much as you can and wear sunscreen when you do.
I don’t like the look of large pores, how can I minimize them?
Thankfully, there are many ways that we can reduce the look and appearance of pores. With some good hygiene and habits, you will be on your way to a smoother facial appearance!
Cleanse your face thoroughly every day
Cleansing is one of the best ways to keep your pores clean and healthy. When your pores are free of any buildup, they’ll be less obvious. Think of your pores like holes — if you fill a hole with stuff it’s going to be a lot more obvious compared to an unfilled hole. The best way to clean your pores is to open them up first. You can do this through gentle heat and steam. Take a warm shower and let the steam open up the pores before cleansing your face.
Unclog your pores with retinoids and acids
Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that improve the rate of cell turnover. When the cell turnover is faster, you will shed dead skin cells quickly and prevent the buildup that results in clogged pores and pimples. You can get them over the counter or a prescription from a dermatologist if you have more severe acne issues. Acids are another great pore de-clogger that you can use. The two most popular types are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). Acids help by dissolving the layer of gunk from your skin. AHAs resurface and smoothen out the skin while BHAs deeply penetrate the skin and draw out the dirt stuck inside your pores. Alternate between retinoids and acids as both might be too much for the skin at once.
Detox with a clay mask
Clay masks are super good at unclogging your pores by pulling out the dirt and grime deep within. The dirt and grime in your pores can make them look up to five times larger, which really sucks. So get yourself a clay mask (there are many types, the popular ones being mud mask, kaolin clay mask, or French green clay), and slather it all over your face. Leave it on until it hardens, then wash it off with some wash water.
The size of your pores doesn’t matter, it’s how you take care of them! By having a robust skincare regimen and good hygiene habits, you will be able to achieve a nice, smooth complexion.