There are a lot of products on the market today that claim to clear your skin and shrink your pores, but is it really possible to shrink pores on your face?
The truth? Not with over-the-counter treatments. Pores — the tiny dots on the surface of your skin that are especially noticeable on your nose and sometimes on your forehead — are actually the openings of hair follicles. Each one contains sebaceous glands that produce oil. You have millions of pores on your skin. Everywhere you have a hair on your body, or a hair follicle, there is a pore that goes along with it.
“The size of your pores is determined by your genetics,” says Dr. Roopal Bhatt of U.S. Dermatology Partners Four Points. “Over-the-counter lotions and other non-prescription treatments won’t actually shrink pores, but there are some things you can do to make your pores appear smaller.”
What Makes Pores Bigger?
There are, unfortunately, several factors that can actually stretch your pores and make them bigger. The most common contributors to enlarged pores over time are acne and sun damage.
“When dead skin cells and sebum get trapped in a pore, it can cause a pimple or blackhead to form,” says Dr. Bhatt. “Pimples and other acne lesions tend to stretch out pores, making them bigger, and picking or squeezing them makes it even worse and can cause trauma to the skin, permanently widening the pore.”
UV rays are also bad for your pores because they weaken the collagen and tissue that supports pores. Ultimately, this structural damage makes pores expand and look bigger. Collagen is also naturally lost during the aging process, which decreases the skin’s overall elasticity and can make pores look larger.
Even some makeup and skin products with harsh, heavy ingredients can irritate the skin and cause pores to appear bigger.
Treatments to Minimize the Appearance of Pores
There are many different treatment options to reduce the appearance of pores and improve the overall texture of your skin. Most procedures are painless and can be performed in your dermatologist’s office with no or very few side effects.
Prescription-strength acne medications such as retinoids (Retin-A, Differin or Tazorac) can help to unclog pores, which makes them look smaller. These treatments are generally applied to the face at night, as they are sensitive to light. Accutane, a strong prescription medication for severe, cystic acne, reduces the amount of oil released by oil glands. While you are taking Accutane, the medication actually shrinks oil glands and dries out the skin. But when you stop taking it, your pores will return to their original size.
Chemical peels can improve the skin’s texture and minimize the appearance of pores by peeling off the old layer of skin. The chemical solution used in the peel penetrates the pores in the skin, helping them to release the dead skin cells.
Microdermabrasion is another treatment option that can improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of pores. For this procedure, a device is pressed against the skin, creating a gentle abrasion by using a fine crystal spray to break up dead skin. Skin is then exfoliated and buffed, improving its overall appearance and texture.
Some laser treatments such as Fraxel laser skin resurfacing can shrink pores permanently while also increasing collagen production. Fraxel uses fractional laser technology to penetrate beneath the skin’s surface to eliminate damaged skin cells. The process stimulates the body’s own healing process and fresh, new collagen and healthy skin replaces the damaged skin.
Other laser skin resurfacing techniques vaporize the outer layer of skin, creating a wound that encourages the body to create new collagen. As the collagen and elastic fibers heal, they tighten your pores and make them smaller.
The easiest way to make pores look smaller is to keep your face clean and exfoliate to remove dead skin cells that can clog your pores. Use gentle cleansers and a mild skin scrub to exfoliate skin at home, being careful not to scrub too hard.
Many over-the-counter acne masks have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that can help unclog pores while deep cleaning and hydrating your skin. Clay masks that include natural ingredients like calcium bentonite can deep-clean pores and eliminate toxins from the skin. Mud masks can be used to absorb oil and other impurities in the skin, making pores feel tighter and appear smaller.
Products with salicylic acid are also good at cleaning out pores, and non-comedogenic moisturizers keep skin hydrated without clogging pores. Choose a moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher — especially after exfoliating. Removing dead skin cells can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
Looking to Visit a Dermatologist?
To learn more about these and other treatments to make your pores appear smaller and your skin look and feel better overall, contact U.S. Dermatology Partners today to consult with a board-certified dermatologist. We have multiple locations throughout the country, so fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us. One of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.
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