VISIBLE BEAUTY - YOUR PORES
In this filtered world of poreless beauty, a visible pore in real life is a common skin concern. Although having visible pores may be annoying, it is perfectly normal and not a skin flaw. Our pores play a vital role in the health and function of the skin. Pores house your sebaceous (oil) glands to maintain your natural moisture balance and barrier defense.
Pores do not open, close or grow but oil, congestion and age related skin decline can make pores appear bigger. We can’t shrink our pores or attain the digital perfection of filters, but there are strategies to refine the look of your pores. Let's be kind to ourselves and our skin, as we take a look at what you can do to improve the overall visibility of your pores.
WHAT IS A PORE?
Pores are hair follicle openings in the skin housing the sebaceous glands that produce oil. Sweat glands also have openings in the skin. These critical little structures perform very important functions to regulate skin moisture and body temperature.
WHAT CAUSES A PORE TO APPEAR LARGER?
Genetics, oil production and age all play a role in the way pores appear in your complexion. These elements are all intrinsic factors that we do not control but pore visibility is also affected by extrinsic factors that we do have some control over. Both factors provide us with clues to target treatments to minimize visible pores.
Genetics: Your pore size is part of your inherited DNA.
Oil Production: There is a connection between genetics, oil production and pore size. The amount of oil produced by your skin is determined by your genetics. When excess sebum is produced, the pore fills up with oil and it sits by the pore opening. When the skin overproduces oil, there is a tendency towards blemishes, breakouts, shiny skin and enlarged pores.
Age: As we age the underlying foundation declines, we lose supporting skin structures like collagen and elastin that serve to keep the pore compressed and less visible. As the skin loses firmness, the laxity around the pore causes it to open up. In addition, our oil production, hydration levels and ability to naturally exfoliate diminish with age causing pores to seem bigger. Building a strong dermal foundation and barrier defense prevents pores from becoming dilated.
Acne: Acne is hormone mediated causing sebum to be overproduced and pores to become blocked and inflamed. When a pore becomes clogged with oil, dead skin cells and debris, a cyst can form. In some instances, there is also a lack of hydration and impaired barrier function so the skin responds by producing even more oil further aggravating acne.
Hormones: Hormones, in general, regulate and influence our skin function. Fluctuations in different hormones, such as puberty, menstruation, thyroid and stress, will affect our skin to varying degrees. Balancing the effects of hormone fluctuations is helpful to keep the skin looking smooth and healthy.
UV Exposure: UV exposure and sun damage break down collagen and elastin making the pore appear larger. This is a form of premature aging from free radical damage and an upregulation of collagen damaging enzymes.
Excess Keratinization: A fancy way of saying a build up of excess dead skin cells. A build up can affect how smooth the skin looks. When dead cells build up around the openings in the skin, the pore appears more pronounced.
Hydration: Hydration is integral to optimum skin function. Hydration keeps the skin plump by smoothing out the overall appearance of the skin. If the skin lacks water, it will compensate with overproducing oil leading to more visible pores and breakouts.
Impaired Barrier: An intact barrier keeps the skin factory beneath running smoothly. If the barrier becomes impaired it leads to dehydration, sensitivity, redness and excess oil production.
Congestion: When the hair follicle becomes clogged, blockages can stretch the pore causing it to look bigger. A clogged pore may then turn into a pimple.
Skin Care & Cosmetics: Makeup and skin care can build up and clog pores and accentuate pore size.
Skin Hygiene: Avoiding build up of oil, makeup and skincare starts with properly cleansing the skin.
THE HOT AND COLD MYTH
Pores do not have muscles so they do not open or close nor can they contract in response to hot or cold so treating them with extreme temperatures will not change their size.
COMINING UP NEXT...8 ACTIVES TO REFINE YOUR PORES
Understanding these underlying factors that cause pores to look more visible is the first step in designing a skin care routine to help minimize their appearance. Pore size and naturally oily skin are a function of genetics and you can’t change that but the good news is there are many ways to make them less noticeable for a smooth looking complexion. Stay tuned for Part 2, the best topical active ingredients for refining your pores and Part 3 the best cosmetic treatments to include in your pore minimizing skin care routine.