When she doesn’t have all of the fancy lights, Cassandra has large pores, sebaceous filaments, oil, grease, and some blackheads too! This is something that used to really bother Cassandra, and she used to be very insecure about the acne on her face, nose, back, and chest. And to this day, there are still things Cassandra feels self-conscious about. But, the good news is that there are ingredients medically proven to treat and hide those things. In this blog, we’ll cover products that minimize the appearance of pores, products that treat the skin over time, and we’ll also delve into skin science.
What are pores?
We have the epidermis, which are the top five layers of our skin. And we have the dermis, which are large, thick layers that have collagen and elastin. And when it comes to pores, they actually take up space in both the epidermis and dermis. Pores or the pilosebaceous unit go down very deeply, and they get nutrients from the dermis. Our pores have hairs in them, but sometimes, you can also see the sebaceous filaments inside of them.
What are pilosebaceous filaments?
Pilosebaceous filaments, not to be confused with blackheads, are the stuff you can see filling your pores. Blackheads are normally dark brown or black while whiteheads are open comedones that appear white. A sebaceous filament is not a comedone or bump. It’s simply a white or yellow substance that fills the pore. Sometimes sebaceous filaments can make our pores look larger or dilated. They can also make pores look more color contrasted since they can be an amber or white color from the oil and dead skin cells. However, pilosebaceous units do not make your pores “more open.”
Can you close or shrink your pores?
As an esthetician, a pet peeve for Cassandra is the idea that one can open or close their pores. Yes, there are ways to minimize the look and appearance of pores using thermodynamics and products, but you can’t open or close them. There’s no muscle within the pore that causes them to open or close. There is an erector pili muscle, but that’s a super tiny muscle. It causes your skin to have goosebumps and your hair to stand up straight. This muscle has no control over how the size of the pore. So, even though we can’t reduce the size of the pore, there are a lot of skincare ingredients that can help reduce their appearance.
Some of Cassandra’s favorite ingredients for this are niacinamide and salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is meant to help with acne. But, because salicylic acid, a BHA, is oil soluble (dissolves within oil), it can use the oil in your skin as a vehicle to penetrate your pores and fight acne bacteria. Salicylic acid also exfoliates the top layers of the skin. This is very helpful because the BHA or salicylic acid can reduce the oil that’s stuck in the pores, which can make them less apparent.
What does niacinamide do?
There’s also niacinamide which is awesome because it helps to regulate oil production. But also, there are a few studies that demonstrate niacinamide’s ability to help produce oil in dry skin. It is an ingredient that truly works with the skin, and it can also help with redness and discoloration. Although niacinamide doesn’t stop your skin from producing pigment, it does stop it from spreading. The pigment is called melanin, and the niacinamide doesn’t let it spread. This is fantastic for people who struggle with pigmentation, specifically after a blemish.
But, while niacinamide and salicylic acid work overtime to treat skin, how do we minimize the look of pores almost instantly with skincare? Well, Cassandra found a few products that have kind of bridged the gap between makeup and skincare. These following picks are skincare products, but when you look at how they lay on the skin, they’re like makeup.
This is a vitamin C product that gives Cassandra the look of blurred pores. Vitamin C is an amazing antioxidant that boosts sunscreen, and it’s a tyrosinase inhibitor, which means it can inhibit the production of melanin (i.e. dark blemishes). Each dose comes in a biodegradable capsule. This feels so silky on the skin, and it’s one of Cassandra’s favorite products.
This makes Cassandra’s acne scars look less apparent and more blurred, and it has been in Cassandra’s routine for years. It’s like affordable, luxury skincare.
Glow Recipe Strawberry BHA Pore-Smooth Blur Drops -$32
When Cassandra first tried this product, she wasn’t completely sold on it. But, as she used it more and more, she was very impressed by the way this cuts down on oil. This does have helpful ingredients like salicylic acid and strawberry, but it also has other very interesting ingredients that reduce oil. So, if you have prominent pores that are enlarged by sebaceous filaments, this truly helps to smooth the skin out. This Glow Recipe product feels very lightweight, but it lays on the skin like a primer, instantly blurring the look of pores. This has more than cosmetic effects though. The formula contains salicylic acid which treats the skin over time.
Peace Out Instant Pore Perfector -$28
This is another one Cassandra loves for smoothing over pores. This is also like a smoothing primer. It also has ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help regulate oil production. It reduces the look of pores almost immediately but not totally. The product contains mushroom extract, and the texture is like a paste. It’s basically a niacinamide primer that happens to have hyaluronic acid. So, even though they call it a pore perfector, it truly minds Cassandra of the Smashbox anti-shine primer that Cassandra used to use 15 years ago. But, this is better because it has skincare ingredients.
There’s also niacinamide to soothe redness. Additionally, it contains coffee extract and zinc PCA. Coffee or caffeine are vasoconstrictors so they help with redness and maybe even some puffiness. Zinc PCA works great for oil control. And overall, this pore perfector works well under makeup and over sunscreen.
All of these are great products to reduce and smooth over sebaceous filaments without wearing makeup. In general, you can look for silicone-based products to smooth over the skin. You’ll find silicones in foundations, primers, and even in medicine for wound healing. In addition to the ingredients we've mentioned, silicones help smooth over scars and bumps.