Who knew such a tiny characteristic could elicit such daily stress? Despite endless creams, serums and peels promising a pore-free complexion, you can’t physically change the size of your pores. But there are things you can do to help minimize their appearance, which will give you a break from fussing over them in the mirror.
Keep Your Skin Clean
Throughout the day, oil, makeup dirt and debris build up on your skin and can get trapped in your pores. Help control this buildup by regularly cleansing your skin in the morning and at night with a gentle cleanser made for your skin type—oily, dry or sensitive. And remember: always wash your face with lukewarm or cold water as hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils. When you’re done, gently pat your skin dry—don’t rub—to avoid irritation.
Choose the Right Products
Take a good look at your current facial routine to see if your makeup, lotions and other facial products may be the culprit of your clogged pores. While many products advertise themselves as “non-comedogenic,” this label is wildly overused and there aren’t any regulations to verify this claim. Instead, avoid products that have a thick, creamy or balm-like consistency. While these are great for dry skin, they tend to trigger breakouts for acne-prone and oily skin types. Look for products that have a gel, liquid, gel serum or thin, water-based consistency, as products with thinner textures are less likely to clog pores or worsen breakouts. With that being said, keep in mind everyone’s skin is different, so give yourself time when testing out new products and keep track of things your skin doesn’t agree with. If aging skin is the issue, look for a product that increases collagen production to aid skin elasticity. Retinol in prescription form is highly effective.
Exfoliate with Ease
Exfoliators come in many forms—scrubs, acids and extracts—but they all do the same thing. They remove dead skin cells from the top layer of skin and dislodge buildup from your pores to make them appear smaller. Whether you choose physical exfoliators such as brushes, rough sponges and granular scrubs or chemical exfoliation—both are crucial steps to clearing away dead skin and revealing a fresh layer underneath. Chemical exfoliators include hydroxy acids, such as salicylic and glycolic acids and retinol, and biological enzymes, such as bromelaine and papain from pineapple. For reducing comedones—which are basically widened and clogged pores, such as blackheads and whiteheads—resist the temptation to self-extract and opt for treating them with salicylic acid instead. While daily scrubbing may feel nice, it will irritate your skin in the long run. Stick to once or twice a week and avoid harsh formulations that can tear the skin.
Make pore maintenance a part of your weekly schedule to skip trips to your facialist. Clay pulls fluids and oil out of your pores, as well as any dirt and debris nestled inside. That sometimes delightful and sometimes uncomfortable tightening sensation you get while a clay mask hardens on your face is a clue to its powerful effects. Choose a clay mask that is made for your skin type—sensitive, oily, acne prone—and don’t use it too frequently to avoid overdrying your skin.