Skin Pores are tiny openings in the skin that function to release perspiration and oil (sebum) to cool and condition the body. With up to half a million pores per square centimetre on the skin’s surface, the excessive or increased flow of sweat and oil can over stretch the elasticity of the pore, resulting in the appearance of multiple enlarged pores. Pores can become so enlarged that they can create unattractive craters.
Increased sebaceous activity produced during puberty stimulates oil flow particularly on the nose, forehead and chin areas (the T-Zone). Whilst these are traditionally the most common areas for enlarged pores, they can occur anywhere on the body on all skin types and conditions.
Other factors that increase the appearance of enlarged pores include:
- Seborrhoea (excessive, thickened oil flow)
- Extractions or squeezing
- A glycolic acid based cleanser can effectively remove excess oil and dead skin cells, reducing the causes of enlarged pores.
- Exfoliation reduces the accumulation of dead skin cells which can lead to blocked and enlarged pores, decongesting and clarifying the skin.
- Daily use of a sunscreen is vital when receiving Microdermabrasion or Chemical Peel treatment to reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and retinoid reaction.
What are pores, anyway?
Simply put, they’re the skin surface openings for hair follicles. Imagine a tiny tube going through the first few layers of the skin. This one tube is a hair follicle, one of many hair-making factories inside the skin. The opening of each tube at the surface of the skin is a pore. Think of it like a volcano rim — a particularly apt metaphor for acne sufferers.
We all have pores, but sebaceous glands, found on either side of the follicle, determine how large they are. These glands are often mistaken for sweat glands, which are separate and not responsible for the pores that we see.
Sebaceous glands produce sebum, a waxy substance that protects our skin from the outside world. The more oil that a sebaceous gland produces, the larger the pores will be.
Sebum is also the main culprit in acne. Keep in mind that oil is not all negative. As we age, our oil production slows. This leads to dry skin and wrinkles. Those with very active sebaceous glands (read: bigger pores) will experience less dryness and likely fewer fine lines later.
As is typical with skin issues, the most effective treatments are provided by dermatologists. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things you can do at home as well.
Making smaller pores a reality
Now knowing what causes large pores, it is easier to understand why certain purported cures are less than effective. Creams can help smooth out the skin surrounding pores, but effective at-home treatments like retinoids, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid can help to treat the underlying issues that cause large pores.
If you choose to go the clinical route, there is no shortage of options available. From laser treatments to microneedling, professional treatments can truly target and eliminate enlarged pores.
The following products are recommended by skin experts to help fight enlarged pores and acne blemishes.
Paula’s Choice SKIN PERFECTING
Containing 2% BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid), Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting is a gentle exfoliant that unclogs pores, fights blemishes, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Maximum Strength Acne Pad
An essential product for anyone with oily skin, Neutrogena Rapid Clear Maximum Strength comes with 60 pre-moistened salicylic acid pads. Using them helps prevent breakouts, remove blackheads, and slough off dead skin cells.
Epicurean Discovery Glycolic Lotion Face Peel
Epicurean refines pores while accelerating the release of dry, dead skin cells. This peel’s low concentration of glycolic acid won’t cause flaking or irritation, making it a good choice for those with sensitive skin.
Mario Badescu Glycolic Skin Renewal Complex
This cream contains a blend of papaya extract, vitamin A, and glycolic acid. After cleansing and toning, gently apply Mario Bodescu’s Renewal Complex to rejuvenate dry, dull skin.
LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream Moisturizer
In addition to keeping follicles clear and stimulating collagen production, LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream Moisturizer repairs damaged skin. Equally important, the lotion does not leave any oily residue, nor does it contain artificial fragrances or parabens.
Clarisonic Mia 2, 2 Speed Facial Sonic Cleansing Brush
The Clarisonic Mia 2 effectively removes makeup, dirt, and sebum. This gentle exfoliator comes with two different speed options: Speed 1 for delicate, sensitive skin, and Speed 2 for daily cleansing.
As an affordable alternative to the Mia 2, the Wonder Puff is a sponge that can be used to remove dead skin cells, excess oil, and dirt from the face. Rather than using your hands, a more hygenic approach is to apply your favorite cleanser on the sponge and lightly brush your face in a circular motion.
- Gill, H. S., Denson, D. D., Burris, B. A., & Prausnitz, M. R. (2008). Effect of microneedle design on pain in human volunteers. The Clinical journal of pain, 24(7), 585-94. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917250