In an ideal world, we’d all have clear bright skins without imperfections. The reality?
Prominent pores, especially in the t-zone get in the way!!! For the 60% of us with combination skin, myself included, pores are a vexing problem that require a specific strategy.
What is a pore?
Think of your pores as a kind of floppy funnel connecting the sebaceous glands in our dermis with the outside world. Now, oil goes through it, dead skin cells line it and connective tissue containing mostly collagen surrounds it. All 3 of these factors play a role in determining how noticeable your pores are.
What makes pores look bigger?
Firstly, our skin cells can block them. This creates a visibly more noticeable structure and if chronically clogged up over time, may even stretch them, so that they’re permanently enlarged.
Puberty hormones switch on our sebaceous glands which means oil runs through in high volume and potentially high viscosity, especially in those who are acne-prone. This increased traffic again increases the pore’s visibility.
And finally collagen breakdown occurs, allowing the pore opening to ‘flop’ open more, due to lack of support - the big culprit here is sun, but oxidative stress from other sources including pollution and smoking will also contribute.
Who is affected by big pores?
Pore concerns are therefore easily divided into 2 distinct groups
1) The oily, acne-prone
2) Those concerned with signs of ageing
This means the strategy we use is slightly different depending on which of these camps you fall into.
The Oily Acne-prone Camp
The ingredients hierarchy, depending on severity looks like this:
- BHAs 1-2 % salicylic acid
For an oily t-zone with prominent pores this is a good place to start. A simple BHA toner might be all that’s needed. Or try a leave-on product for greater effect. This can be a great approach for teens who are just starting to get clogged pores and t-zone shine.
Once you start moving towards breakouts and greater numbers of clogged pores, a leave-on preparation with transformational ingredients is advised. I like azelaic acid, niacinamide, retinoid and bakuchiol , all of which have great affinity for pores and solving clogging skin cells. In fact, this was the exact combination behind my Flawless Nightly Serum, which is a veritable vacuum for pores!
Non-comedogenic skincare which won’t clog skin is essential.
And in clinic, I may even consider prescription oral therapy if excess oil + acne is a big issue - the oral contraceptive Pill, spironolactone and Isotretinoin are all helpful, in the right context.
The Sun-damaged, Ageing-concerned Camp
When we’re trying to hold onto collagen, it’s vital to rank your tools accordingly.
Daily broad spectrum SPF is the number one priority. Reapply diligently if you’re outdoorsy, spend a lot of time in your car or live somewhere sunny.
Then I like retinoids, Vit C, niacinamide and bakuchiol. I’ll add Flawless Brightly Serum into my patients’ skincare plan to multi-task against collagen loss for this reason. Another interesting ingredient is MEP, a synthetic oestrogen analogue, which is great for those entering menopause, when collage levels tend to take a nose-dive.
So I hope this has given you a new way of looking at your pores. Make friends with them safe in the knowledge that you now have the tools you need to combine in order to get pore satisfaction!