Pores are a misunderstood element of our skin. They aren’t doors — they don’t “open” or “close”— and they serve plenty of useful purposes, rather than simply being an aesthetic annoyance to some.
Our pores are the opening that hairs poke through and the funnel that allows our skin to secrete sebum, it’s own special sauce that helps to hydrate, protect and balance the skin. In this respect, we should be thanking them.
However, I know from experience people can see pores as a problem to solve, especially when the pores in question are large and in charge. The size of your pores is predominantly genetic, and usually, larger pores are affiliated with oilier skin. Oilier skin means that those oil funnels need to be a bit wider.
At the same time, there are factors that contribute to your slightly larger pores that you are fully in control of. But what even constitutes a large pore? ‘Normal’ pores shouldn’t be visible to those who are a foot or more away from you, and should be about the size of the tip of a sewing needle.
When our skin ages, whether in its own natural timeline or accelerated by our lifestyle, our pores widen due to loss of collagen and elastin, which means our pores have less structure. They loosen over time and this is worsened when we don’t wear SPF to protect from collagen-degrading UV rays, when we smoke, when we don’t look after our skin and when we don’t eat as well as we should. Why am I always the bearer of bad skin news?
On top of that, pores that tend to be plugged will become larger more easily too. Think about an elastic band wrapped around a jar for a while — it simply won’t snap back to the size it used to be.
Some pores become damaged too. Picking, poking, prodding and at-home extraction can stretch and damage the pore, as can acne, as after a certain stage, acne can actually break the walls between pores.
Although it may not be possible to make pores invisible without the help of a Polyfilla style primer, there are small changes you can make to reduce the appearance of them.
Adjust your lifestyle and protect your skin daily with an antioxidant serum and a broad-spectrum SPF to help to stop external factors from influencing the size of your pores.
If you are prone to blackheads, clogged pores, oiliness and lumps and bumps, introduce a salicylic acid cleanser like Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash (€41, available from selected salons and www.theskinnerd.com) to exfoliate and dissolve that debris in the pore. If you are a picker, poker or prodder, stop that.
If you are suffering from more severe cystic or nodular acne, the type of acne characterised by painful, red, inflamed bumps, the sooner you seek medical treatment, the less likely you will be to see pore problems in future.
Topical vitamin A promotes the synthesis of collagen in the skin. We see the long term effects of vitamin A genuinely help to reduce the appearance of pores in our clients, and the results that people are seeing with Skingredients Skin Protein (€42, available from selected department stores, salons and pharmacies) need to be seen to be believed.
When it comes to damaged pores specifically, not pores that are simply genetically large, microneedling works to get the skin to produce collagen and elastin, its structural proteins, so a course of microneedling may actually help you to see a difference in your pore size.
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For the most part, I am usually not crazy on toners. REN Ready Steady Glow changed my mind.
Inside, you’ll find lactic acid, willow bark extract, and an azelaic acid precursor to brighten, tighten and even out skin tone. This is one of those products that is suitable for so many different skin concerns.
The only people I’d strongly advise against using this would be those with very, very sensitive skin. With that in mind, lactic acid is a mild exfoliant and this is a nice mild toner too.