We’ve talked about pores – why they bother us. What we can do to make sure our everyday practices aren’t creating problems. But how do we actively influence their size? Can we even? Do Actives matter? If so, which ones?
So firstly, I think Actives do matter. A lot.
The correctly chosen Actives prevent skin cell pile-up which can make the pesky little holes seem even larger and if clogged for a long period can eventually dilate the openings.
So it’s key to use Actives that are pore-centric!
Treatments to clear pores
Heaped up dead skin cells on the skin’s surface reduce its ability to reflect light.
This emphasizes the openings on the skin’s surface making them look even larger.
By contrast, the simple optics of smooth skin enable it to reflect the light and help conceal the pores. For this reason exfoliation with beta hydroxy acids may help significantly improve the appearance of the pores.
Using a salicylic acid cleanser or a leave-on product can help remove oil and debris from the pore which also helps the skin look smoother.
My preference? A leave-on product you can carefully target to the areas that need it most.
Retinoids help prevent the build-up of dead skin cells and oil inside the hair follicle that leads to dilation of the pores in the first place. When the hair follicle is clogged with dead cells and is not open to the surface, it is called a closed comedone, and we often see these as the precursor lesions in acne sufferers. When the dead skin cells clogged in the pore turn dark and the follicle is open at the surface, the lesion is called a blackhead or an open comedone.
By normalising the way dead skin cells slough off, retinoids have remarkable pore-clearing properties as they tackle the issue at the root cause. As an added bonus, they build collagen, which is the framework around the pore helping keep them upright and reduced, rather than saggy and enlarged.
There’s a retinoid that’s suitable for most of us - start gentle and less often, and build your habit over months, rather than days or weeks. This is the best commitment you’ll make to your pores.
This versatile yeast extract is great for clarifying pores and when combined with retinoids, is one of my favourite Actives combos. If you’re prone to redness and are also pore-concerned, this is a great Active to start with.
Another great multi-tasker, Niacinamide is the gentle pore-clearing hero that also helps with hyperpigmentation, redness, blemishes and barrier function, so it’s a rare combination.It also penetrates skin very easily and doesn’t need special measures to protect it in a formula.
Of course, the real magic happens when you use different Actives in combination. This is true for most skin concerns, but especially for pores - in fact, it’s the basis for the formula of Flawless Nightly Serum, which contains 4 game changing Actives to clear the decks!
As with all Actives, if your skin is sensitive, introduce Actives gradually. There’s no rush!! Pore maintenance takes time, but the great news is that these same Actives are all powerful radiance boosters - and you know what? When your skin invites the light, pores matter an awful lot less…