All About Pores: Minimizing Tips, Products, & Lifestyle Habits For Flawless Skin
Pores are largely discussed in the beauty and skincare community, with loads of information and products out there on how to keep your pores in-check, but what exactly are they? Pores are openings on your skin that contain hair follicles (where all that facial hair comes from, sadly), and sebaceous glands that produce sebum (natural oil). Sebum is actually good for you since it contains nutrients, proteins, and protects your skin from harmful environments, but when there’s an excess amount of sebum being produced, your pores become clogged and appear to be enlarged. Combined with bacteria, dead skin cells, and sweat, it becomes a potent combination that results in breakouts and acne.
An unwanted cycle is formed due to the blockage in the skin’s surface, creating larger pores. This is why it’s important to know what your skin type is, since oily skin types have more active pores that produce more oil while dry skin types have very small pores that appear tight as a result of less oil being produced. Of course, skin types are genetic and you can’t change that, but having a solid routine or habits in place that will help your skin control its pores will make a significant difference.
I know this seems very basic, but it has been proven to work. There’s a technical term called thermal expansion, and what this means is that heat supposedly opens your pores and makes your skin softer, hence the reason why it’s recommended to wash your face with lukewarm water. If you wish to shrink your pores, while making sure your skin remains firm, then washing your face with cold water will do the trick and costs nothing.
Blotting Tissues (in moderation)
According to Beauty Within, a mistake many of us make is over-blotting our faces when there’s shine and grease. They claim that “suctioning out naturally produced oil will make your skin want to reproduce it.” Dabbing your skin once or twice during the day is fine, but multiple uses on a daily basis will form a vicious cycle of your skin overcompensating for the loss of oil. So to all my ladies and fellows in hot and humid climates, try to resist the urge of excessive blotting if you can. Embrace that natural shine and flaunt it!
Use a cleansing makeup wipe instead of a towel to wipe sweat during a workout or sports activity. Bacteria buildup can lead to breakouts even if you don’t have acne prone skin. By using a cleansing wipe, you remove all the grime and sweat without being physically harsh to your skin. Don’t immediately wash your face post-workout either, since your pores have expanded due to the heat and rise in body temperature. Instead, use a wipe, wait several minutes, and then go ahead with your regular cleansing routine.
Hydrate & Moisturize
Skincare guru Liah Yoo strongly suggests that everyone, regardless of their age, hydrate and moisturize really well and never neglect topically giving skin moisture and hydration. Her tip is founded on the idea that stripping your skin of oils makes it drier, thus producing more visible pores and internally confusing your skin so that it forms more oils to protect itself. So be weary of using an entire product line that’s oil-free because that’ll lead to dehydrated skin, which is more harmful in the long run.
The most seemingly counterintuitive tip! Using oil to combat oil is actually one of the best ways to reduce the amount of naturally produced oil. Your skin recognizes the oil it’s being given and refrains from producing an excess amount of sebum. What you have to be mindful of, especially when you have oily skin, is what comedogenic rating is applied to the oil you’re using.
What this means is that all oils, especially carrier oils (coconut, grape seed, jojoba, etc.) fall somewhere on a scale (comedogenic rating) that determines if the oil contains ingredients that will block your pores. Ideally, you want something like jojoba oil with a rating of 2 or kiwi seed oil that has a rating of 1 (the lower the rating, the better!). The great thing about oils is that they’re all-natural and usually a fraction of the price of skincare items out there. You can create your own DIY oil infused sheet masks, oil cleanser, mist, etc. without hurting your wallet.
Toners have been proven to minimize the appearance of pores but don’t actually shrink your pores. So don’t be confused or become victim to claims that using a specific toner will drastically shrink or make your pores invisible. What toners can do, however, is to act as a final agent that removes the remaining gunk in your pores before layering the rest of your skincare in addition to balancing out pH levels. Even if you double cleanse, you’ll be surprised to see a soiled cotton pad after you’ve swiped and dabbed your face with toner.
A personal favorite is the MISSHA Super Aqua Mini Pore Tightening Toner. It has astringent properties but never feels like it’s inflaming the skin and gives off more of a tingling sensation that’s light and refreshing. Moreover, the toner is meant to tighten pores and does exactly that while utilizing apple mint extract that’s cooling and makes pores less visible. As a skincare product, this is recommended for those with oily to combination skin types, since people with dry or sensitive skin types might find this a bit harsh.
Not only does sunscreen protect you from the sun’s lovely death rays, it prevents damaged skin that creates a loss of suppleness and firmness. This could lead to sagging skin, which makes your pores more visible. No skincare routine is complete or meaningful without sunscreen, so incorporating a good sunscreen into your routine will be beneficial to pores and your skin in the long run.
A highly underrated product that’s quickly gaining recognition is the Krave Beauty Beet Shield. It’s a lightweight sunscreen that leaves no white caste and is formulated with beetroot extract, which contains antioxidants, reduces pigmentation, and is perfect for those with sensitive skin. If sunscreens tend to agitate your skin, then this moisturizing and soothing sunscreen is perfect for you.
Clay actually draws out impurities from deep within your pores, cleaning out a lot of residue and bacteria that an exfoliator can miss. Clay masks also absorb excess sebum, reduce shine, and unclog your pores so you look squeaky clean. Clay isn’t a new skincare conception either. It dates back to ancient Rome, where it was used as a medicinal ingredient, and is formulated using earthly minerals. So the next time you feel like an idiot for slapping on some clay, just know that your skin is thanking you, and the Romans used it too!
Containing, centella asiatica (an herb found in Asia), a botanical ingredient that has been widely loved by the skincare community, NEOGEN’s Canadian Clay Pore Cleanser harnesses the extract’s nutrients and benefits in fighting excess oil, dead skin cells, makeup residue, and blackheads, and is essentially a glorified pore-product. Instead of drying you out completely and flaking, this clay turns into a foam, leaving skin feeling fresh, smooth, and clear.
The biggest lifestyle change when focusing on skincare is diet! Your skin is a reflection of what’s going into your body, so keep track of what you’re eating. It can tell you a lot about what’s causing breakouts, excess sebum production, and dehydration.
All the yummy things in life like cakes, desserts, sweet and tasty drinks, candies, etc., spike insulin levels that lead to inflammation, which forms breakouts and acne. A personal breakout monster for me is caramel extract and caramel syrup in lattes, so knowing what types of refined sugars are harmful to you can help eliminate acne-inducing foods. More fruits and homemade treats will satisfy that sweet-tooth and keep your pores happy.
Fried foods are everyone’s favorite, from chicken to french fries, so resistance can seem futile. However, consuming fried foods means excess fat, which makes our skin appear more dull and less elastic, and such foods actually destruct important nutrients and vitamins that are vital to our skin’s appearance and overall health.
If you don’t drink, then you’re actually winning at the skincare game! Alcohol increases the production of urine, which means your body is losing fluids, and it leaves your skin feeling parched and thirsty a.k.a dehydration of epic proportions that resembles a cracked and dry desert. When your skin feels thirsty and dry, it will actually produce more oils to try and relieve all the dryness, so reducing or eliminating alcohol intake will be more beneficial for your liver and your pores.
You don’t have to be lactose intolerant to suffer from diary-related issues. Cow’s milk actually consists of hormones, and the products produced from cow’s milk also include these hormones as well as other preservatives that could cause breakouts. If you have oily skin, then dairy might be your biggest enemy, while others with combination or dry skin simply have to watch what they eat. Dairy can be difficult to eliminate, but with so many plant-based alternatives out there, like soy or almond milk, there are options to choose from to bring balance and create a healthy lifestyle.
Another lifestyle change that everyone should follow regardless of skin-type or concern is getting enough sleep! Your skin regenerates and repairs itself while you sleep, so getting that required eight hours of sleep will work wonders and change the appearance of your skin. Restless sleepers or those who hardly sleep will notice their dull skin becoming more elastic and clear the more they sleep! A good night’s sleep is the only way to make those nighttime products work! A good evening routine will only get you so far since getting some shut-eye does most of the magic. Besides, who doesn’t like sleep?
Hope these small but practical tips, product recommendations, and lifestyle changes help you on your pore minimizing journey!
debra4040 loves K-dramas, reading a good book in bed, and is a K-beauty enthusiast. You can find her sharing her food adventures, K-drama musings, and love for travel and reading on Instgram and Twitter!