Let's Talk About Pores

First, what causes enlarged pores?

A number of things can cause dilated pores. A build-up of oil and dirt in the skin can contribute to making pores appear enlarged as they become blocked and the skin around the pores dilates. People with naturally oilier skin may be more likely to have larger pores because their oil glands are more active, meaning they need a bigger pore to release oil from within the skin. If this sounds familiar, a thorough cleansing routine can have a big impact on the appearance of pores and reduction of blackheads/breakouts.

Contrary to popular belief, teenagers and young adults aren’t the only ones affected. Aging can also have an impact on pore size. As collagen begins to break down, a lack of elasticity and tautness is created causing the pores to dilate.

Should you ever deal with blackheads yourself, or is it best left to the professionals?

I always advise against popping spots for risk of scarring and infection (you never know what may be lurking in your bathroom...), but if you insist on doing it at home, do it safely. The main reason for recommending a professional extraction is that it is hygienic. However, there are ways to mimic this at home.

First, always wash your hands. Then, start by using facial steam or a warm towel to open the pores to prepare for extractions (or simply take a warm shower). Using the pads of fingers, apply a cleanser (preferably something oil-based for a good, first cleanse) to the entire face, massaging lightly. Next, apply a warm (never hot!) compress to the affected blemish. Apply gentle pressure with a wiggle to either side of the blemish. Remember: stop immediately if you see blood, and never, ever, ever use a finger nail, as this could cause trauma to the skin.

Can you reduce pore size, or get rid of them altogether?

Because enlarged pores are largely determined by genetics, we can never physically shrink them, but we can effectively minimize their appearance by keeping them clean and free from build-up of dirt and dead skin cells. Treatments like chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and some lasers can have a visible effect on pores. Unfortunately, in most cases, enlarged pores tend to stick with you.

What ingredients should I look for when buying skincare products to treat my pores?

Acids like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and vitamin A have a resurfacing effect on the skin, sweeping away dead skin cells and stimulating cell renewal for a smoother skin appearance. Glycolic acid can be a bit harsh for sensitive skin types, whereas lactic acid is a gentler alternative.

Salicylic acid is truly a miracle-working ingredient for blackheads and can be an effective tool for minimizing the appearance of pores, blackheads, breakouts, oil, and cleansing the skin. It is an oil-soluble acid, meaning it can penetrate deeper into the skin to exfoliate, unclog, control oil, prevent future breakouts and deeply cleanse the skin.

Please bare in mind: products formulated with these ingredients should not be used too often and the skin should be deeply hydrated afterward. These ingredients have the ability to irritate and dry the skin, leaving it raw, inflamed and unhappy.

Are french fries bad for my face?

Your diet affects all areas of your health and your pores are no exception. Following an anti-inflammatory diet can regulate excess oil to prevent breakouts and clogging. This involves controlling your blood sugar levels by avoiding sugary and starchy foods and focusing instead on omega-rich fish and foods full of vitamin B2, such as spinach, almonds and eggs.

NIA Cleansing Scrub ($38, 3.75 fl oz)
Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 ($35, 1.7 fl oz)