Pores … we all have them, and most of us hate them. They’re great at filling up with stuff, looking bigger and uglier than they are when cleaned out.
For better or worse, the size of our pores is largely determined by genetics. They do not (and cannot) open and close on their own, there is no muscle there to do this! But, they can fill up with sebum (oil) and skin cells that have been shed, making them look much larger than they are.
How to clean out your pores and help them look smaller
1. Remove Oil and Debris from the Pores
Pores create oil (sebum) and cells slough off into the pore. While this can get clogged to create a whitehead or blackhead (here’s more information on how blemishes form), even if the pore isn’t clogged things can get backed up and the sebum can be pretty obvious. Getting the sebum out of your pores will make them appear smaller and make them less obvious.
2. Exfoliate the Surrounding Skin
Think of your skin as a tufted sofa. Those clogged pores are the buttons and the skin around them is the pretty tufting. Except that the tufting makes the buttons more obvious. Exfoliating your skin will do a few things. First, it will help make the clogged pore a bit less obvious. Second, it will help remove skin cells before they can clog the pore. Both are good things.
What products do you need to use to minimize your pores?
1. Pore Strips
There are a few brands of pore strips out there and you can even create your own at home gelatin pore strip mask. They’re easy to use. Simply wet the strip, place it on your face, and pull it off once the strip has dried.
It can be strangely addictive to look at a used pore strip, you won’t believe what they can pull out of your pores! But, pore strips should be used with caution! You can also pull off some skin and even hair as you pull debris from your pores.
2. Clay Masks
Clay masks are a great way to pull debris from your pores as well as tighten the skin in between. The clay will absorb oil and excess moisture, clearing out your pores and making them look much smaller. Read my post here on deep pore cleansing facial mask
3. Peels and Scrubs
Exfoliation is something that I think everyone needs to add into their skincare routine, but it needs to be individualized for what your skin can handle. I have friends that can exfoliate once a week, others that can handle every day.
The key is to remember that your goal is smoother, glowy skin. Your skin should never look red or flaky from exfoliation. If it does look irritated, you need to back off by either changing to a more gentle form of exfoliation or less frequent exfoliation.
There are two main ways to exfoliate, either with a physical exfoliator or a chemical.
If you opt for physical exfoliation you can simply use a washcloth, you can splurge on a Clarisonic or you can try a natural homemade scrub. You can check my post here on how to shrink your pores using natural ingredients.
Chemical exfoliation has a huge array of options. You can try a peel, a daily chemical exfoliator like a lotion, or even daily exfoliating wipes. Look for ingredients like salicylic, lactic or glycolic acid.
In addition to helping increase cell turnover, most chemical exfoliators act as keratolytic, meaning they will help break up any plugs in your pores. The real key to chemical exfoliation is finding a product that your skin can handle.
Many toners use acetone or alcohol to dry out the outer layers of the skin to create a temporary tightening effect. If you can’t tolerate the more traditional toners, you might want to try witch hazel instead, which is a bit gentler but can also temporarily tighten. You can read my post here for homemade toners.