One of the most common questions I get asked in my Instagram DMs is “how do I get rid of my pores?” Well, plot twist: You cant! You can only make your pores look smaller. But hear me out…
The reason you’ll never be able to get rid of your pores is that you’re not an airbrushed model -you’re a human! And everyone has pores – including those models and celebs beneath the airbrushing.
Let’s go over a few quick facts about pores.
What are pores?
Pores are actually hair follicles! And each pore contains a sebaceous gland which produces oil and helps to keep your skin moisturized and healthy.
What are the main factors of pore size?
Genetics and age!
Pore size is mainly genetic. Pores can appear larger when your skin overproduces oil – so my fellow oily-skinned humans can feel my struggle, I’m sure. And pores also appear larger as we age and as our skin starts to lose elasticity. Other factors, like dry skin, acne, and sun damage can also make your pores look bigger.
And while there’s not much you can do about genetics or aging, there are a couple steps you can take to help reduce the appearance of your pores.
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1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Dehydrated skin tends to compensate by overproducing oil, which can make your pores look bigger. The best thing you can do for your oily skin is to keep it hydrated using moisturizers, oils, or hydrating serums. I recommend looking for products with skin-replenishing ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. These ingredients help to provide moisture, and replenish your skin barrier, making your skin more effective at keeping moisture in.
2. Put Down the Harsh Cleansers
You should be cleansing your skin 1-2 times a day max with a gentle, pH balanced cleanser (meaning it has a pH of 4.5-6.0 – similar to that of your skin). Regular gentle cleansing will ensure a healthy skin barrier and help keep pores clear of dirt and excess oil to minimize pore size. However, over-cleansing, or using harsh products can be counterproductive and will make pores appear larger.
While we’re on the topic of harsh products, as a general rule you should stay away from toners and moisturizers that have denatured alcohol (alcohol denat.) listed high up on the ingredients list. These products are often marketed as “mattifying,” but they rely on alcohol to reduce the oil on your skin. It might seem like a quick fix, but in the long term denatured alcohol can dry out your skin (causing it to compensate by producing even more oil) and can damage your skin’s natural barrier.
My favorite cleansers:
- First Aid Beauty Cleanser ($21)
- Cerave Hydrating Cleanser ($12)
- Krave Beauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser ($16)
- CosrX Low PH Good Morning Cleanser ($9)
3. Chemical Exfoliation Is Your Friend
Exfoliating with acids can gently remove dirt and dead skin that may be clogging your pores. Acids should be used in your routine no more than 2-3 times a week and, since they can increase sun sensitivity, it’s extra important to use sunscreen every single day.
Some of my favorite gentle exfoliators:
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA ($10) – BHAs are especially great because they’re oil-soluble and can penetrate pores more deeply to keep them clean.
- Farmacy Honeymoon Glow ($58) – A mix of AHAs and BHAs
- Krave Beauty Kale-Lalu-yAHA ($25) – Mainly an AHA but has the tiniest bit of BHA in the formula
4. Use Masks That Contain Charcoal or Bentonite Clay
Used sparingly, these sorts of masks can absorb excess oil and reduce the appearance of pores. My favorite clay masks are Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask ($26) or Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Mask ($5). Keep in mind, clay masks can sometimes be drying, so it’s important to only use them for the recommended amount of time and and to follow them up with a hydrating routine.
5. Wear Your Sunscreen!
Sunscreen is without a doubt the most important product in your routine. It protects against skin cancer, premature aging, and sunburn. But did you know that sun damage can also make your pores appear larger? Wearing sunscreen every single day will always help minimize the appearance of pores and help prevent pores from looking enlarged in the first place!
6. Repeat after me: pores are normal!
You are a human and you are SUPPOSED to have pores. Remember that everyone has them and they come in all different sizes, so try not to spend too much energy worrying about them! 🙂
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