I gotta say there’s a couple questions I get asked WAY more than a persons regular specific concern which is “How do I shrink my pores?!” People’s faces usually start to show disinterest as soon as I tell the basically “You can’t!” Now this isn’t 100% true every time and there’s different philosophies on how pores operate.
The ‘safe’ philosophy is to compare them to a trash bag. They start one size and they can hold xx amount of content. The pore can slightly stretch and snap back but can easily be stretched passed it’s original size and basically stay that size. This is why we see pores where we’ve picked get funky shapes often times looking like an oval or line. I have a few of these battle scars from when I was a teenager not having a drop of self restraint from picking at my sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous what? Sebaceous filaments are in my opinion one of the most annoying things but they’re so great. Basically these are like candle wicks that bring oil from inside the pore to the skin’s surface. However sometimes these ‘wicks’ need to be ‘trimmed’ yeah it’s a gross analogy but you’re picturing it correctly. They oxidize from their exposure to air and turn black, the same way a blackhead turns black, but these suckers are a skin function, not a temporary obstruction. So if you feel like you have recurring blackheads in the same spot they most likely are these guys instead. Blackheads generally are raised and much larger than the pore.
While detoxing we all know helps enlarged pores but there’s something that is actually MORE important! We need to make sure our skins properly hydrated (think water not oil) otherwise how can you expect your pores to be perky tight and firm?? Like a butt that hasn’t seen squats in a while our pores aren’t quite themselves when they’re dry. Most people see dramatic improvement with increased hydration over time.
So what do I recommend for congestion, sebaceous filaments, enlarged pores and everything in between? These are some of my favorites and some quick bits about them.
Salicylic Acid (and it’s various forms) – exfoliates also the inside of the pore (something manual exfoliation and AHAs do not do) think: dran-o for your skin.
Bentonite – Detox without the dryness. Bentonite cannot physically absorb water but it can absorb oil and impurities that come along with it.
Sulfur – Detox the sh*t out of your skin, can be considered an active ingredient. Can be drying. But effect for a quick purge. I like it for spot treatments the most.
Charcoal – Moderate detox; this is in toooooooooons of products, including many you’re going to read about. Not all that drying however can be.
Hyaluronic Acid – A humectant that our skin has present naturally that pulls in humidity into our skin.
Snail Secretion – Multi-function ingredient that actually contains hyaluronic acid, as well was copper peptides to help repair skin and a slew of other compounds.
(Scroll down to find out more and what products have these ingredients!)
CosRx Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser – Make sure to use a toner with this one! More stripping pH of 9. But a deeply cleansing ‘micro foam’ penetrates Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree deep to help liquify sebum and lead you to clear skin. I love these photos of explanation from the brand, the brand is phenomenal inside and out.
Caolion Pore Blackhead O2 Sparkling Soap – I like spot cleansing my nose every morning with this charcoal and sebum balancing bar soap. Leaves the skin squeaky clean but not totally stripped, if you’re into that typa thang.
Foreo Luna Sonic Cleansing Brush – While our cleansers can do a lot how we put them to work can be a total game changer. I prefer the Foreo over the Clarisonic for many reasons. But that doesn’t mean I’d tell you to toss the Clarisonic, I would just stick to the radiance and cashmere brush heads. (I’ll do a post one day as to why)
Secret Key Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel – IT SMELLS LIKE SPRITE. Peeling gels are great gentle exfoliators, something that can be used more frequently than a scrub or intensive acid peel. I personally use this guy on my nose everyday and my forehead almost every day. These types of exfoliators stick on to dead skin cells and balls them up off your face. Gentle and effective, just how I like it. That’s him down there!
Perricone PRE:EMPT Exfoliating Pore Refiner – If you don’t dig the idea of rolling your dead skin up but want an everyday exfoliator still I highly recommend this bad boy. Hailing from Perricone, a brand extremely concerned about inflammation and irritation. The second ingredient is Betaine Salicylate a gentle form of Salicylic acid that’s just as effective. I have a full review of this product planned!
(not pictured) PTR Pumpkin Enzyme Mask -TRIPLE ACTION EXFOLIATOR BURN THAT SH*T OFF Mask should actually be its name. But it’s still on this list because it works and it works well. Not for everyone but it uses aluminum oxide to give you a nice microdermabrasion scrub (fine granules to buff, great for texture), AHAs to lift and Enzymes to eat it away those dead skin cells. While I like this more for texture; it’s a phenomenal prep step into clay masks and really any exfoliator is but, I like this one for its thoroughness.
PTR Irish Moor Mud Purifying Mask – Purifying but not stripping. But WARNING do this mask in the shower it is crazy thick and it’s very invigorating w/ your pores open. Using charcoal and peat (irish moor mud just the not frilly ~magical~ name for it.) Peat is basically mud that’s had a lot of decay in it for a lot of years so it’s very very nutrient rich. To top it off it has some hijiki seaweed to add some nourishment. You never feel stripped however sometimes sensitive if you leave it on for awhile. Absolutely my favorite mud mask, thickness and all.
Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding – I consider this the Irish Moor Mud lite. Similar effect comes from both white and black charcoals. While the ‘white charcoal’ side offers some more nourishing ingredients and helps with pore refinement. It has no real tingle or warmth.
Kate Somerville EradiKate Oxygenating Mask – For those looking for a serious detox to bring them a serious glow without the stripping effects. This is your guy. Oxygenating to help bring flush tone and a glow while containing just a smidge of sulfur to really flush your pores. Can leave your skin a little stinky if you don’t get it all off (or out of your hairline which is very hard to do with this bugger)
Admittedly, I haven’t tried very many pore serums. I’ve always been skeptical and seen lack of results but this was an exception:
Skinmiso Pore Corset Serum – This guy has been impressing me lately but it’s still too soon to tell for sure. I’m about 3 weeks in but I’ve definitely noticed my nose pores looking less and less noticeable. Now this is what makes me start to believe the second pore philosophy of Pores are like rubber bands they and stretch and snap back to the size they were but you can’t make them smaller. I know a lot of my enlarged pores are from sun damage and acne damage, so in theory that means my pores should be able to tighten up maybe not all the way back to normal but some since it’s not all genetics. Wishtrend has a lot of pictures and info on the product, it is a more ‘secretive’ product in the ingredient area. It does mention something about 20 minutes of pore tightening therapy which sounds awesome and probably has something to do with the cooling effect it imparts.
Sunday Riley Tidal Enzyme Cream – ugh, love you bae. I’m on my second jar of this and I don’t use it consistently. This lightweight gel cream has two forms of hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrated and stay that way all day long. To top it off there are enzymes like papain to smooth and brighten and brightening actives like the safer hydroquinone-derivative alpha-arbutin. A lot of makeup artists I know and work with swear by this for prep. But nonetheless a great hydrator to keep those pores lookin fuh-reshhhhh
Mizon Intensive Snail Repair Ampoule – Read in depth about it here!
CosRx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence – Read in depth about it here!
(other notable and strong recommendation that I haven’t though have had a chance to try is the Mizon 100 Hyaluronic Ampoule for obvious reasons.)