7 Skin Mistakes That Make Your Pores Look Bigger
No matter your age or skin type, you can make a noticeable difference in the way your pores look. The most important thing to know is that pores don’t actually shrink—but they can appear to. When a pore appears enlarged, it’s actually the result of it being stretched out, usually by dead skin cells, dirt, oil, or other gunk on the surface of the skin.
Two Types of Skin Pores
The term pore is used to describe the small openings in the skin through which oil and sweat reach the surface from their respective glands below. You actually have two different types of pores: oil pores and sweat pores.
• Oil pores: These are also known as your hair follicles. You have these hair follicles over the entirety of your skin’s surface with the exception of the skin on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. It’s these oil pores that we tend to focus our attention as they can be large enough to be seen. When people talk about having large pores or blocked pores, they are typically referring to oil pores.
• Sweat pores: You also have sweat pores all over your entire skin. Sweat pores are really tiny. Since you typically can’t see these pores with the naked eye, most people don’t give them much thought.
How Healthy Pores Work
Your pores have a very important job. The hair follicle allows the oil generated by the sebaceous glands (oil glands) to reach the surface and lubricate the skin. The skin’s natural oil, called sebum, helps keep the skin supple, moisturized, and healthy. You don’t want to stop production of sebum entirely or oil pore from functioning, but rather to keep them functioning normally to have healthy skin.
Sweat pores work in much the same way. These pores allow for sweat to travel from the sudoriferous glands (sweat glands) to the surface of the skin. Sweat helps you maintain your body temperature by evaporative cooling. Sweat glands come in two varieties. The eccrine glands produce most of your sweat. The apocrine glands in your armpits and groin produce a thicker and oilier type of sweat that is prone to causing body odor.
As far as pore size, however, that mostly comes down to genetics, skin type, aging, and environmental factors. However, pores can become packed and dilated with sebum, makeup, dirt, and other debris, which can ultimately cause them to stretch, making them appear larger than their natural size. Generally, the T-zone (aka the forehead and nose) is where people notice the biggest issues with pore size because the sebaceous glands in that region tend to be more prominent than other areas of the face.
Olive and darker skin tones tend to have larger pores and more sebum production. Additionally, UV damage and the natural aging process can play a major role in how big or small our pores look. An important factor to consider is the elasticity of the skin. As we age, we produce less collagen and the skin’s elastin decreases. Firm skin supports the pores and makes them appear smaller, so when our skin starts to lose that bounce or plump feel, pores can appear more dilated.
Another common denominator is the overproduction of oils and congestion, and thus skin type is another major factor however, it’s not just oily skin types that are prone to large pores. If you have an oily skin type, your pores will expand to release the overproduction of oils from the glands. Equally, if the skin is dehydrated, your pores can overcompensate by releasing oils to combat the dehydration.
These Mistakes Make Your Pores Look Bigger
Mistake #1: Using Cleansers That Are Too Harsh
Many individuals with large pores and oily skin types are using cleansers that are too harsh for daily use. We recommend double cleansing with a gentle cleanser, like Environ Mild Cleansing Lotion or Environ Sebu-Wash Cleanser (for those with acne prone skin) to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils, which then creates a cycle of overstimulation and excess oil production—and enlarged pores. Be sure to avoiding high foaming formulas at all costs as they tend to be harsh and stripping to the skin.
Overstimulating the sebaceous gland by using physical or manual exfoliants (like harsh scrubs) can actually increase the production of oil, which as previously mentioned can lead to enlarged pores.
We recommend using an active chemical exfoliant to tackle congestion and dull skin, and specfically the gentle peeling effect of Environ Hydrating Clay Masque or Environ Sebu-Lac Lotion (for acne prone skin), which targets buildup leading to clogged or enlarged pores, without overstimulating oil production.
Mistake #3: Not Wearing SPF Every Day Year-Round
Not protecting your skin from UV damage with sunscreen is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to pore size. Sun and UV damage breaks down the collagen and elastin, causing the casing around pores to fall, making them appear larger.
You should be wearing SPF every day and everywhere—there are amazing, clean, non-comedogenic sunscreens out there, so don’t let that be an excuse for not slathering it on. We recommend Environ Broad Spectrum SPF 25 Sunscreen. This light and creamy face and body sunscreen formulation contains essential antioxidants as well as sun absorbers and reflectors that work together to protect skin from the damaging effects of the sun and harsh environmental influences. It is formulated with a combination of physical sunscreens as well as a unique phyto-complex to work synergistically in protecting the skin from harsh environmental influences and the damaging effects of the sun.
Mistake #4: Using the Wrong Acids
Products with either a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) like salicylic acid up to 1% or an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) like lactic, or glycolic acid up to 5% will help with cell turnover and keep pores clean. We recommend Environ Sebu-Wash Cleanser and Sebu Clear Masque all of which work to refine pores while accelerating the release of dry, dead skin cells.
Also recommended is Environ’s Alpha Hydroxy Night Cream. This concentration of glycolic acid won’t cause flaking, which makes it a good choice for those with sensitive skin. Glycolic is the smallest molecule of AHA; the small molecular size means that it can be absorbed easily by the skin and enters the ducts, pores, and follicles to clarify the pores with minimal irritation.
Mistake #5: Skipping Toner
If you’re looking to minimize the appearance of your pores, make sure you’re not skipping a toner both morning and night. We love Environ’s Sebu-Tone formula which contains more salicylic acid, as well as tea tree oil for it’s antiseptic and antibacterial properties. We recommend following the toning process in the morning with an oil-free moisturizer, and sunscreen. At night, we suggests following your toner with a retinol and the same oil-free moisturizer.
Mistake #6: Not Removing Your Makeup
While this maybe obvious, it’s a mistake worth mentioning all the same as who hasn’t committed this one?
Dissolving debris and makeup daily is a must. It’s so important we wrote an entire article on it which you can find here, Best Way To Remove Your Makeup… Every Last Bit Of It.
If you’re in a rush and need to remove your makeup fast—we also love the Angel Puffs from Croon. They are made by hand, all-natural without plastics, and absorb impurities with fibers that are made with a technology that removes impurities without depositing them back into the skin. Use your gentle cleanser afterward to make sure the skin is completely clean.
We also love a good old sweep of micellar water pre-cleanse to excavate debris from every last inch and pore of our skin.
Mistake #7: Forgoing Regular Facials
Although professional facials are an investment, they can make a huge difference in terms of not only minimizing the look of your pores, but also the overall look and health of your skin making them a great investment. Shooting for somewhere between every four to eight weeks is a good goal for optimum skin maintenance.
A licensed esthetician can do wonders for your skin. Keeping the skin clean with extractions and treatments can and will help, and things like dermaplaning, chemical peels, micro-channel needling, radiofrequency skin-tightening, and microdermabrasion will not only help with exfoliation but also help with helping pores to look smaller and more refined.
Other beneficial treatments to reduce pore size include red light therapy which also serves to increase collagen and elastin product, and reducing sebaceous gland activity. Things like IPL (intense pulsed light), ablative and non-ablative fractional laser, C02 peels as potentially great options for those looking to minimize the look of pores.
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