PORES Pores… those tiny terrors that either confirm skin perfection or give you a nervous breakdown. We bust the myths and find out how to tackle them
Pores are the tiny openings of hair follicles all over your skin. Each one contains a sebaceous gland, which excretes sebum (oil) to the surface of the skin to provide natural moisture. Pores can’t open or close and your pore size is genetically determined, so it can’t be changed. The pores on your nose and forehead are also naturally larger than on the rest of your body, which is why they seem more noticeable.
While you can’t shrink your pore size, it is possible to improve its appearance, says Pascal Piedimonte, international training manager for French skincare brand Bioderma. ‘ Imagine pores like a tube,’ he says. ‘If you put more liquid in this tube, there will be extensions in the diameter of the pore. For people who produce an excess amount of sebum, this abnormal amount in the tube is what creates dilation of the pore.’ Pascal says testosterone can cause the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, as does melanin, which is why men and people with darker skin tones tend to have oilier skins. Blackheads are caused when the excess sebum in pores oxidizes, causing the sebum to turn dark.
A common mistake made by people with oily skin is trying to remove sebum with a very strong cleanser. This only makes matters worse as it causes the sebaceous glands to produce even more oil. The best management for enlarged pores is to control the activity of the sebaceous glands and strengthen the pore’s wall. Pascal recommends using products with zinc gluconate and vitamin B6, as they decrease the activity of sebaceous glands. ‘Ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and salicylic acid act as a sponge to absorb the sebum while agaric acid helps to strengthen the wall and re ne pores,’ he says.