What Are Enlarged Pores?

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Woman touching face in bathroom mirror

Enlarged pores are one of the most common skin complaints out there, and can be quite difficult to treat. 

Wondering what causes enlarged pores, as well as what you can do about them?

Here is everything you need to know to get yourself back on track for that smooth and flawless complexion of your dreams…

The Two Types of Pores

Your skin actually contains two different sets of pores…

The first are known as sweat pores, and these can be found all over your body. As you can guess from the name, sweat pores are where your sweat is released from. 

The second set of pores on your skin are the openings at the top of each hair follicle. Your hair follicles are not only where each hair on your skin comes from, but are also where your sebaceous glands lie. 

What do your sebaceous glands do? 

They produce sebum, which is the oil that not only conditions your skin to keep it soft and supple, but also prevents moisture from evaporating out of your skin. The sebum comes out of your hair follicle pores and is spread over your skin. 

When you notice enlarged pores on your face, these are the pores of your hair follicles, and have nothing to do with your sweat pores. 

Why Do Pores Become Enlarged?

Infographic on normal pores versus enlarged pores

There are actually a number of different reasons as to why pores can appear enlarged. 

The one that you do not really have any control over is your genetics…

This determines the size of your pores to begin with. Some people naturally have larger pores, and, if this is you, you will notice that the rest of your family will also probably have quite large pores too. 

Of course, no matter the size of your pores, they can still all end up enlarged and stretched. 

A few of the factors that cause this are: 

  • Aging – collagen and elastin are both proteins that give your skin its structure and elasticity. As you age, the amount of collagen and elastin produced by your skin begins to decline, resulting in a loss of elasticity. This causes your skin to sag, which then makes your pores seem larger and more noticeable 
  • Sun exposure – not only does sun exposure deplete your skin’s supplies of collagen and elastin, which are the proteins discussed above, but it also thickens your skin, which leads to larger pores 
  • Clogged pores – this is the most common cause of pores that appear to have enlarged quite suddenly. As you already know, your pores are where your skin’s oil comes from, and when this mixes with the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, along with any dirt, bacteria, makeup, and anything else that may be there, it forms a plug. This blocks the opening of your pore while stretching it out, making it appear enlarged 

How to Minimize Enlarged Pores

If you are experiencing enlarged pores, then you likely want to know how to minimize these as quickly as possible. 

Well, your options all depend on why your pores have become enlarged in the first place…

1) Increasing Collagen and Elastin in the Skin

If you know that your enlarged pores are caused by aging, then one way to treat the problem, while also preventing it from happening even more, is by increasing the collagen and elastin in your skin. 

How do you do this? 

Well, there are many products out there that contain collagen and elastin, but an even better idea would be to use products that contain ingredients that boost your skin’s natural production of these proteins. 

Ingredients that can do this include: 

  • Algae – prevents the oxidization of collagen and elastin while increasing its production 
  • Omega Fatty Acids – protects against the degradation and loss of collagen and elastin 
  • Vitamin Cvital for collagen and elastin production
  • Hyaluronic Acid – helps to boost collagen production, and works even better when used alongside vitamin C 
  • Aloe Vera – recent studies show that aloe vera could potentially double the amount of collagen, as well as hyaluronic acid, produced by the skin 
  • Peptides – promote the production of both proteins

Certain skin treatments, such as chemical peels and red light therapy, also help to stimulate the skin into producing more collagen and elastin. This can lead to the skin firming and tightening up, therefore enabling your pore openings to bounce back to their original size and shape. 

2) Reversing and Protecting Against Sun Damage

As mentioned above, sun exposure causes your skin to thicken, but how exactly does this lead to enlarged pores? 

Well, the fact that your skin cells are being damaged and distorted means that your pores are being distorted too. This then makes it much harder for your pores to release the sebum that your sebaceous glands have created, resulting in them appearing enlarged. 

It goes without saying that a quality sunscreen is key when it comes to preventing sun damage from enlarging your pores even more, but what do you do about the damage that has already taken place? 

There are a few specific ingredients that you need to be using, including: 

  • Vitamin Anot only does vitamin A help to reverse sun damage, but it also refines the skin to make the pores appear smaller and less visible. There are many different forms of vitamin A out there, and if your sun damage is quite severe, you may need to visit a doctor to obtain a prescription for a stronger, and more potent, form 
  • Antioxidants – antioxidants are key when it comes to treating sun damaged skin. Everything from vitamin C to vitamin E to polyphenols can help 
  • Glycolic Acid – resurfaces the skin while also promoting the natural production of collagen and elastin 

A key skin care treatment to look into when it comes to reversing the effects of sun exposure would be microdermabrasion. 

Never heard of this before? 

It makes use of a small device with a crystal tip, and this exfoliates away the dead skin cells on the outer layer of your skin. Not only does this help with sun damaged skin, but it also increases your skin’s production of collagen and elastin, which will tighten your skin up and reduce the appearance of your pores. 

3) Dealing with Clogged Pores

As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons why pores can suddenly appear more enlarged is due to clogs forming at their opening. 

As always, prevention is better than cure, and there are a few things that you can do to prevent these clogs from forming in the first place…

Regular cleansing is extremely important, and should be done in the evenings. Over the course of the day, everything from dead skin cells to sebum to dirt to pollutants, and so much more, build up on your skin’s surface. If you leave these on there, they end up mixing together and forming plugs that clog up the pores. 

Infographic on how exfoliation unclogs pores

Exfoliating twice a week is also key, even if you are cleansing every day. 

What’s the difference between cleansing and exfoliating? 

Well, cleansing tackles the surface of your skin, clearing away everything that has built up on it. On the other hand, exfoliation goes a little deeper, clearing out any unwanted particles from within your pores. 

How should you be exfoliating?

You have two options: 

  • Physical Exfoliants – this can be anything from a sponge to a scrub, with this form of exfoliation physically buffing away dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, as well as your pores. While effective, it can sometimes be too harsh for some skin types
  • Chemical Exfoliants – these work on a deeper level than physical exfoliants, with salicylic acid in particular being an ingredient that really cleans out the lining of your pores

You should also make sure that any skin care products, as well as makeup products, you are using are non-comedogenic. 

What does this mean? 

Non-comedogenic means that the product does not contain any pore-clogging ingredients. 

Certain ingredients out there are known for being common culprits when it comes to clogged pores. 

These are some ingredients to avoid: 

  • Lauric acid 
  • Almond oil 
  • Cocoa butter 
  • Algae extract 
  • Shea butter 
  • Coconut oil

One ingredient that you should definitely be adding into your skin care routine is clay. 

This is best used in the form of a face mask, and is extremely effective at drawing out impurities and toxins from within the pores, enabling them to be washed off the face. By pulling these plugs out of your pores, your pores can often appear instantly smaller after using a clay mask.

Woman using clay face mask in bathroom

One other thing to keep in mind when it comes to caring for skin with enlarged pores is…

Make sure that you continue moisturizing your skin. 

If your skin is naturally oily, it can be easy to believe that your skin does not need a moisturizer. 

After all, won’t that just end up clogging up your pores? 

That all depends on the moisturizer you choose, but your skin definitely does need a moisturizer applied regularly. 

Moisturizers are designed to increase the amount of moisture, meaning water, in your skin. Your skin cells need this in order to properly function. 

If your skin is oily, then this means that your sebaceous glands are producing too much oil. As you likely already know, oil is completely different from water, meaning that the oil on your skin cannot perform in the same way that the water inside your skin does. 

This makes a moisturizer absolutely essential for every skin type. However, as mentioned above, simply go for a non-comedogenic moisturizer if you have oily skin. 

For even better results, opt for a moisturizer that contains ingredients that will regulate your skin’s oil production and slow it down. 

These ingredients include: 

  • Niacinimide – absorbs excess sebum while also minimizing the appearance of large pores 
  • Retinol – tightens up the pores so that they produce less oil 
  • Witch Hazel – a natural ingredient that helps to control oil production 
  • Geranium – a botanical that not only regulates oil production, but also provides anti-aging benefits 
  • Green Tea – reduces excess sebum production while also minimizing inflammation, therefore reducing the chances of your clogged pores leading to acne

Skin Treatments for Minimizing Enlarged Pores

If you have tried everything to minimize your enlarged pores and haven’t yet had any luck, then you may need to give a few different skin care treatments out there a try. 

One of these is microdermabrasion, which has already been discussed above. 

You could also consider microneedling, which is also known as collagen induction therapy.

This treatment makes use of a device that creates micro-injuries in the skin, causing the skin to increase its production of collagen and elastin in order to heal itself. The process it goes through while repairing itself not only minimizes enlarged pores, but can also even out the skin tone, reduce dark spots, minimize wrinkles and fine lines, and brighten up the overall complexion.

Infographic on collagen induction therapy

Chemical peels can also be useful when it comes to reducing the visibility of enlarged pores.

A chemical peel basically works in a similar way to an exfoliant, but with much more intense results. 

Peels are available in different strengths, and your dermatologist will be able to advise you on the best route for you to take. 

Wondering if a chemical peel hurts? 

The mild peels don’t – these feel more like a warming sensation over the face. On the othe rhand, the stronger peels can sometimes be painful, since they remove a deeper layer of skin.

Enlarged pores can sometimes be difficult to treat, but, as you can see from the above, there are so many different treatment options out there. The key is identifying exactly what has caused your enlarged pores, because then you can tackle the problem at its root, enabling your pores to return to their original size. 

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