Have you ever tried to shrink the appearance of your pores? Maybe you're not happy with the way your pores look, or your pores are much larger than you like.
Here are 11 truths and misconceptions about pores that may change the way you think about and treat them.
Fact: Porexia Is A Real Condition
If you are obsessed with the size of your pores, you may be suffering from Porexia. Porexia is a condition in which one is fixated on the size and appearance of their pores.
However, this is nothing to be embarrassed about. According to a study published in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, many complain about the size of their pores because of the fear that it makes them look older. The good news is that there are several purposes for why your pores are a positive thing, rather than negative.
Fact: There are Two Kinds of Pores
Your skin has two kinds of pores: oil pores and sweat pores.
Oil pores are hair follicles. Each pore contains a sebaceous gland that produces oil or sebum and these pores tend to be the source of most people’s discontent. On the other hand, "sweat glands are very small, so it’s the hair follicles that bother us more and tend to become blocked", according to Gervaise Gerstner, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York, NY.
Fact: Pores Serve A Purpose
Oil pores are needed for your hair to grow and provide a safe journey for your natural oils to arrive at the skin surface, where they further protect your skin. The average adult has 5 million pores, with about 20,000 just on their face.
When your pores become blocked with oil and dead skin cells, a blackhead or whitehead begins to form. This is where bacteria comes in. As a response, your skin becomes red and inflamed, further causing a pimple.
False: Blackheads Are From Clogged Dirt
Dr. Gerstner describes this as an optical illusion. When a pore is clogged, a blackhead or whitehead may result. This really is just oxidized sebum or oil, which is usually white.
Gerstner explains further, “Sometimes there is dirt in the pore too, but most of what you see is oxidized oil, not dirt.”
False: Your Pores Close and Open
Christopher W. Robb, MD, PhD, a dermatologist and co-founder of Skin and Allergy Center in Nashville, TN explains that pores "dilate like a camera lens and can go from narrow to wide, or wide to narrow”.
Steam can help loosen the oil inside pores, but they don’t open and close.
Fact: UV Rays Make Your Pores Look Larger
Dr. Robb explains, “the more sunlight you get on your skin, the larger your pores may appear.” This is because ultraviolet rays reduce the amount of collagen in your skin that supports your pores and keeps them tight. According to a study by Dermatologic Surgery, decreased elasticity around your pores is one of the main reasons for making them look larger.
Fact: Your Period Affects the Size of Your Pores
Dr. Robb explains, “Pores are dynamic, they constantly shift, so when hormones spike during ovulation, your pores can get very large. And then they will shrink again as hormone levels decrease.” Hormonal highs and lows during pregnancy or menopause can also cause pores to change in size and appearance, he explains. So, don't be alarmed the next time your pores look larger all of a sudden – it may be your menstrual cycle.
Fact: Aging Affects Pore Size
Dr. Gerstner states, “When your body’s natural production of elastin and collagen drop with age, your skin gets floppier, and this makes the pores appear larger.” As stated before, elastin works with collagen to keep your skin looking tight, smooth, and firm.
As you age, your natural collagen levels decrease, decreasing your skin’s elasticity which is also linked to deep wrinkles and folds. An easy at-home remedy to combat skin aging wrinkles and larger pores is to take a collagen supplement daily to boost your natural production of collagen and your skin’s elasticity.
Fact: Excessive Washing Makes Pores Appear Larger
While dirt and debris can clog pores, Dr. Gerstner explains, “I tell most of my patients to wash their face only at night because you don’t want to de-grease it to the point that it becomes dry.” When excessive dryness occurs, pores become more irritated, and appear enlarged while also producing excessive amounts of oil to replenish the skin from the self-inflicted dry state.
Fact: Men Have Larger Pores Than Women
According to Terrence Keaney, MD, an assistant clinical faculty of dermatology at George Washington University in Washington, DC, men's pores are larger than women. While some men will seek treatment, more than 50 percent of men have never noticed the size of pores on their face or the face of women according to a poll conducted by L’Oreal.
False: There Is Nothing You Can Do About Your Pores
While there is not much you can do about the size of your pores because it is genetic, there is plenty you can do about their appearance and to make them look smaller.
Dr. Keaney explainis, “sebum, oxidation, and blackheads make pores more noticeable, but skin care with gentle exfoliation to get rid of debris and skin tightening with lasers or other energy-based devices can tighten pores.”
There are also over-the-counter and prescription-strength retinoids that promote skin cell turnover and prevent the build up of dead skin cells in your pores – which is highly recommended for making pores appear smaller. Other skincare products include those with salicylic acid or glycolic acid to exfoliate your skin and minimize pores.
Treatments like laser skin resurfacing, micro-needling, and other collagen boosting treatments – as well as implementing a daily collagen supplement, like Wholy Dose collagen powders – can also shrink the appearance of pores. Dr. Keaney explains, “when we increase collagen production, skin becomes denser and pores get squished in, so they appear smaller.”