Tip #20: How to Shrink Your Pores
Pores are the small openings on your face that many of us wish to shrink for that porcelain skin look. Smaller pores can result in flawless makeup application, smoother-looking skin, or a more even skin tone. But pores aren't the enemy: the reality is that they exist to help your skin breathe, and since their size is determined by DNA, there are no permanent solutions to physically minimize pores.
Thankfully though, if you lament your huge pores, there are more than a handful of solutions to help shrink their appearance from pore-perfecting beauty products to in-office treatments. Take notes from expert dermatologists, makeup artists, and aestheticians to get one step closer to appearing pore-less, with or without makeup.
1. Wash your face regularly
It's no surprise that shrinking pores starts with a great skincare routine. "When dirt clogs the pores, they expand and appear larger," explains dermatologist Dr. Margarita Lolis. "So, it's important to always wash your face with a gentle cleanser, especially before bedtime, to remove any extra dirt and grease." Using a facial cleansing brush can help remove every ounce every grime, oil, and makeup.
In addition to cleansing every day, always use clean makeup brushes (you should clean them at least once a week, or else your makeup brushes could get pretty disgusting) and never touch your face with your fingers. Your complexion (and your makeup brushes!) will thank you.
2. Exfoliate your face twice a week
While keeping your face clean is so important, it's the act of getting rid of dead skin cells that really keeps your complexion looking its best. "Exfoliation can be achieved in a number of ways, both physical (like face scrubs or that cleansing brush) and chemical (products with gentle acids that encourage cell regeneration)," says Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, dermatologist and consultant for HydroPeptide
Look for "gentle cleansers containing low concentrations of salicylic acid (.5% - 1%) or lactic or glycolic acid (2.5% - 5%) will stimulate cell turnover and keep pores clean." You can also try "using a prescription-strength topical retinoid, such as Retin-A, [which] can increase cell turnover, thus exfoliating the pore and making them appear smaller," says Dr. Lolis.
3. Remember to be gentle on your skin
Regular exfoliation is important, but being too rough on your skin can also damage your pores. "Be gentle so you don't expand your pores, which you can do permanently" with aggressive cleansing, exfoliating, or skin picking, warns aesthetician Mariola Barczewska of New York's Haven Spa. Already damaged your pores? Barczewska advises taking it especially easy so your skin can heal properly.
4. Moisturize twice a day, every day
You already know all the bad things that happen if you stop moisturizing, and enlarged pores are just another one. "It's important to use a high-quality, noncomedogenic moisturizer twice a day," says Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip. "If you leave your skin to get dry, it will respond by producing excessive amounts of oil that can clog your pores."
Beyond using a great face moisturizer regularly, make sure know how to apply your moisturizer correctly in order to really benefit from the hydrating ingredients.
5. Use sunscreen every single day
You've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times, and for good reason: SPF is an integral part of your skincare routine. "UV radiation breaks down collagen and elastin, thus expanding the pore," (not to mention scary sun damage, wrinkles, and premature aging), warns Dr. Lolis. "So the best way to prevent your pores from becoming enlarged is to protect yourself from the sun."
6. Use a makeup primer to smooth pores
Yes, you cancamouflage the appearance of pores with makeup, and primer is great option (especially if you have dry skin). “Silicone-based primers can fill in large pores (and small scars, and fine lines), but they can also be comedogenic (a.k.a. pore-clogging, which makes sense) and irritating to anybody with sensitive skin,” explains Jenny Patinkin, a makeup artist and author of Lazy Perfection: The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying.
If you have dry or sensitive skin and large pores, don't worry: you still have options. “A water-based primer can be helpful to anybody who has dry skin, but in my opinion, there is no substitute for a good old-fashioned water consumption to really assure adequate moisture.” So drink up: good hydration can brighten skin and shrink pores!
7. Use a pore camouflaging powder
Adding a layer of powder before or after your makeup can help to blur out fine lines and pores. Make sure to pick a formula with ingredients such as hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, antioxidants, since other powders cab settle into the skin and actually emphasizepores and lines. We love Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder by IT Cosmetics.
8. Get frequent facials
Barczewska recommends seeing a facialist every four to six weeks. Why? A little professional extraction and exfoliation can really help clean out your pores without damaging the skin, so you wind up with clearer, healthier skin. If this seems a little too indulgent for you, consider getting one a couple times a year or on special occasions like your birthday — your skin will thank you.
9. Stay hydrated
Yes, you can and should start by drinking a lot of water, but you should also use a hydrating serum before layering on moisturizer. "It helps shrink your pores by plumping up the surrounding skin," explains Dr. Craig Kraffert, dermatologist and president of Amarte. Just make sure you exfoliate often so your hydrator can really work its magic — otherwise, all those great ingredients will merely sit on the skin's surface on top of a layer of dead skin.
10. Find the right face mask for your skin type
Face masks are an easy, luxurious, and relatively inexpensive way to shrink pores, unwind, and implement some much-needed self care. "At-home treatments such as face masks and peelswork with consistent longterm use," says Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip.
If you have large pores and oily skin, "masks containing ingredients such as clay or charcoal work by absorbing oil out of pores." Olay's Pore Detox Black Charcoal Clay Stick has all the pore-vacuuming benefits in a no-mess stick form. If you have combination skin, you can try the multi-masking technique.
11. Consider a laser treatment
That's right: in extreme cases, lasers can help reduce your actual pore size. "A series of treatments with non-ablative lasers can help reduce pores by building collagen, thereby plumping the skin and shrinking pores," explains Dr. Lolis. Bonus: This treatment has minimal downtime.
Additionally, popular laser treatment Fraxel resurfaces the skin and reduces the appearance of enlarged pores, explains Allie Summers, a medical aesthetician at Tribeca MedSpa in New York City. "Fraxel technology uses thermal heat to create controlled, microscopic wounds in the skin. The process stimulates the body’s production of new collagen, resulting in a smoother texture and more refined pores."
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