Poreless per­fec­tion

With one in ev­ery three women list­ing ‘large pores’ as their big­gest skin con­cern, size mat­ters. Here’s the best way to see a shrink...

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

How of­ten do you snap a selfie? ( Yes, in­clud­ing those ones that never see the light of day.) Ap­par­ently, the av­er­age Bri­tish wo­man takes an eye­brow-rais­ing 1,092 pho­tos of her­self each year. Team that with our con­stant ac­cess to dig­i­tal fairy dust – ca­pa­ble of smooth­ing and bright­en­ing our com­plex­ion with a sin­gle tap – and it’s lit­tle won­der that the nat­u­ral state of our pores is reg­u­larly called into ques­tion. So much so that ‘How to shrink pores’ is googled ev­ery 0.38 sec­onds across the globe.

Each pore has a se­ba­ceous gland, which pro­duces oils called se­bum to keep skin mois­turised and healthy. The prob­lem is dead skin cells, ex­cess se­bum, pol­lu­tion and heavy prod­ucts can lead to block­ages. Over time this can com­pact and stretch the size of your pores, mak­ing them more vis­i­ble.

Un­for­tu­nately, it’s im­pos­si­ble to phys­i­cally shrink pores, un­less you have a course of pro­fes­sional laser treat­ments, such as Fraxel. ‘Pores don’t have mus­cles to ex­pand and con­tract,’ ex­plains Lor­raine Scrivener, skin spe­cial­ist at Eden Skin Clin­ics. ‘A lot of pore size is down to ge­net­ics too,’ adds skin­care ex­pert Deb­bie Thomas. How­ever, ‘ You can min­imise the ap­pear­ance of pores by re­duc­ing block­ages and stim­u­lat­ing col­la­gen pro­duc­tion. This boosts skin’s plump­ness, so the open­ing of the pore looks smaller,’ says Deb­bie.

Thanks to a new wave of prod­ucts and gad­gets, there are more ways than ever to tackle this at home. Here’s how...

Steam and Squeeze

For most of us, black­heads pose the big­gest prob­lem be­cause they’re so vis­i­ble. The dark colour isn’t dirt but ox­i­dised ex­cess oil and dead skin, which is why you’ll see more where skin is oily. But don’t be tempted to reach for a gritty scrub – this can ag­gra­vate skin and make the sit­u­a­tion worse by caus­ing in­flam­ma­tion and send­ing oil pro­duc­tion into over­drive. Skin­care ex­pert Paula Be­goun rec­om­mends ap­proach­ing a black­head like you would a weed. ‘Gen­tle scrub­bing re­moves only the top por­tion of the prob­lem, like mow­ing over a weed rather than pulling it out, roots and all.’

Steam soft­ens the oil plug, mak­ing it eas­ier to pull out dirt and grime. Lean­ing over a bowl of hot wa­ter with a towel over your head can do the trick but, for a pro­fes­sional ex­trac­tion at home, try Pana­sonic’s Fa­cial Steamer, £129. It

reg­u­lates the tem­per­a­ture, while re­leas­ing steam par­ti­cles 18,000 times finer than steam to pen­e­trate your skin more ef­fec­tively.

When re­mov­ing the build-up, don’t squeeze it out with your fin­gers. Not only can this com­pact the pore fur­ther, but bac­te­ria from your hands can cause in­fec­tion. If your black­heads are small and newly formed, COSRX Black­head Silk Fin­ger Balls, £8, and Bos­cia’s Deep Pore Buff­ing Brush, £16, will do the job.

For more deep-rooted black­heads, try The Body Shop’s nifty Black­head Re­mover, £4.50. Place the hook over the black­head and ap­ply some pres­sure un­til your pore is com­pletely clear.


There are sev­eral pow­er­house in­gre­di­ents that can help pre­vent your newly cleared pores from be­com­ing blocked again. Reg­u­lar use of al­pha hy­droxy acids (AHAS) and beta hy­droxy acids (BHAS) will gently ex­fo­li­ate and get rid of dead skin cells, as well as bal­ance oil pro­duc­tion.

‘Sal­i­cylic acid (BHA) can pen­e­trate the pore wall and dis­solve build-up,’ ex­plains Joel Ru­bin, DCL Skin­care’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of re­search and de­vel­op­ment. ‘ While gly­colic acid, an AHA, flushes away dead skin cells on the top layer of skin to help the sal­i­cylic work more ef­fec­tively.’ If you suf­fer from dry skin, try DCL Skin­care’s Ac­tive Mat­ti­fy­ing Tonic, £29, which com­bines BHA and AHA with su­per-hy­drat­ing hyaluronic acid. If you bat­tle with oili­ness or reg­u­lar break­outs, try Paula’s Choice Skin Per­fect­ing 2% BHA Liq­uid, £26, which helps bal­ance se­bum pro­duc­tion.

For those who want to go one step fur­ther, Deb­bie rec­om­mends retinol: ‘Not only does it help to re­duce sur­face build-up, it also reg­u­lates oil pro­duc­tion and pro­motes col­la­gen pro­duc­tion.’ Con­sider your­self a vi­ta­min A novice? Try The Or­di­nary’s Gran­ac­tive Retinoid 2% in Squalane, £7.80, which is less ag­gra­vat­ing on the skin than tra­di­tional retinol for­mu­las. Keep in mind that if you haven’t dab­bled with acids be­fore, you must in­tro­duce them into your skin­care rou­tine one at a time to al­low your skin to ad­just, and pre­vent ir­ri­ta­tion, peel­ing or red­ness.


‘A proven skin treat­ment for tight­en­ing and im­prov­ing pore size is mi­croneedlin­g,’ says Lor­raine. ‘ Tiny needles are used to cre­ate mi­cro chan­nels in the skin, which en­cour­age the stim­u­la­tion of cell re­newal, re­sult­ing in tighter skin.’ But few at-home gad­gets have come close to achiev­ing sim­i­lar re­sults – un­til now. Glo­pro’s Mi­croneedlin­g Re­gen­er­a­tion Tool, £199, pro­vides the ben­e­fits of mi­croneedlin­g and uses red LED light, to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, in­crease cell turnover and help fur­ther boost col­la­gen pro­duc­tion. On a tighter bud­get? Try Swiss Clinic’s Skin Roller, £42, once or twice a week af­ter cleans­ing and be­fore ap­ply­ing your serum, to stim­u­late skin func­tion and pro­mote in­gre­di­ent ab­sorp­tion.

For those who don’t like needles, Baby Quasar Clear Rayz, £144, of­fers both red and blue light ther­apy to tar­get bac­te­ria and in­flam­ma­tion, while Carita’s Clever My Cle gad­get, £399, com­bines red, blue, green and white LED lights, as well as mi­crocur­rents to pro­vide se­ri­ous skin re­ju­ve­na­tion in just four min­utes at home ( launch­ing in the UK next month).


There are plenty of primers that claim to blur the ap­pear­ance of pores, but aes­thetic doc­tor Sarah Tonks ad­vises cau­tion. ‘Make-up usu­ally makes en­larged or blocked pores look worse and can ex­ac­er­bate the sit­u­a­tion as they trap oil on the skin,’ she says.

Want a smooth base in­stantly? Try make-up heroes such as May­belline’s Baby Skin In­stant Pore Eraser, £7.99, which min­imises pores’ vis­i­bil­ity and cre­ates a smooth base for foun­da­tion. Hour­glass Veil Min­eral Primer, £20, is oil-free, so doesn’t slip; and celebrity favourite Oxy­genetix Oxy­genat­ing Breath­able Foun­da­tion, £45, pro­vides full cover­age with­out clog­ging pores.

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