What are pores?
If you look at your skin, you’ll see little vellus hairs sticking out everywhere. This happens all over the body, and yes, those hair follicles can get clogged. However, because we tend to have more sebum production on our faces and backs, they tend to be the most evident on our faces.
So, what exactly is sebum production?
Sebum is the oil that our skin naturally produces. It lubricates our hair follicles and transports fatty acids, antioxidants, and even nutrients throughout the skin. When our skin produces sebum, it creates an acid mantle, and this stops viruses bacteria and pathogens from being able to get into the skin as easily. In contrast to popular belief, there’s nothing on the skin that closes to keep things out. When people use hot water to open their pores or cold water to close them that technically doesn’t happen. Technically speaking, the idea of opening and closing pores does not exist. We do have little separate muscles called erector pili muscles, and these muscles can pull on the hair follicle. Our erector pili muscles are what make our hairs stand up when it’s cold outside. However, these tiny little muscles are not the same thing as opening and closing pores.
Why do some people have large pores and blackheads while others don’t?
There are many different looking pores. Some people have smoothed over pores, and some people have more sebaceous filaments, which are the little dark or white spots within our pores upon looking closely. There are ways to get them out, but if you do it at all, you should do it gently.
Exfoliators and vitamin A
Blackheads rather than sebaceous filaments are what people worry about most commonly. Blackheads qualify as acne because they have cuti bacterium acnes. Blackheads are open comedones acne, meaning they turn black upon coming into contact with oxygen. Ingredients that have been proven to help are things like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and even retinoic acid. Anything that is a vitamin A can help break down oil in the skin.
The following ingredients can help too although they are not FDA approved. Niacinamide helps to regulate blotchiness and oil in the skin. So, if you’re super oily, niacinamide can help to regulate your skin, even if it’s dry.
Additionally, zinc PCA has been shown to decrease oil and sebum production too. Even clay masks are fantastic. They can target things such as oil and skin. Especially if you live in a humid climate, clay masks can help a ton.
Look for bentonite and kaolin clay.
Moreover, When it comes to smoothing or blurring the appearance of pores, don’t be afraid of dimethicone, primers, especially makeup primers or sunscreens that have a dimethicone feeling. We hear that dimethicone can clog pores, but prescriptions that help acne are often suspended in dimethicone and silicones. Dimethicone can actually smooth over the skin, pores, and scars. If you do have an uneven texture, any of these silicone products can smooth them over and make pores look less apparent, especially if you put makeup over the top.
SPF is needed for everything including the size of pores. When the sun hits our skin, that UV radiation can damage our DNA, our collagen, and elastin. If that collagen is not giving the skin great structure, the skin can start to sag a bit, and pores can have the appearance of being a little larger.
Accept that pores come down to genetics.
So specifically, the sebum that we have boils down to genetics. How much sweat and oil your pores produce also comes down to sebum. If you naturally have skin that produces more oil, or if you have encountered a change in your environment, this may affect your oil production, making your skin look more oily.
Below, we have also shared products that Cassandra likes for smoothing over pores and calming the appearance of pores (although they’re nothing to worry about, gorgeous!)
Blackheads Fave: Paulas Choice BHA Toner (4 FL OZ) - $32
Oily Skin Fave: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid - $12
Dry skin fave for those who want more moisture: Bliss Clear Genius-$18
Adult acne fave: Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Oil- $82
Dry Skin Fave: Pacifica Niacinamide & Zinc- $12
Cover photo cred: istock photos