How to Shrink Pores“How to shrink pores” is probably one of the most searched digital questions on the internet when it comes to skincare. It’s not surprising given that we are inundated each day with photoshopped, filtered, flawless images of skin - ceramic smooth, poreless and unrealistic.
The reality is that pores are a natural, vital part of the skin’s physical make up. Their sizes can fluctuate over time with our sebum production levels.
It's Important to Understand SkincareAt Snow Fox, we believe it’s incredibly important to respect and understand the reality of skincare and our expectations of what real skin looks like. As a brand founded by a patient with a permanent skin condition, we know firsthand the importance of appreciating and understanding skin health while sticking to the facts rather than gimmicks.
So we’ve decided to consult MIT graduate, board certified dermatologist Dr. Sheila Krishna M.D., about her professional opinion about pores.
Dr. Sheila Krishna M.D.
Dr. Sheila Krishna M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist in practice in San Diego, California. She is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of technology and the David Geffen school of medicine at UCLA. She treats adults and children and practices medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Read about her practice at sheilakrishnamd.com
*Please note that Dr. Krishna does not currently endorse any brands or branded ingredients, this is her professional opinion only.
Snow Fox: There are millions of people who want to minimize enlarged pores, but advice varies quite differently across the internet from both professional and non-professional sources.
What is your professional opinion about pores, what they do and how they work?
Dr. Krishna: Pores are the openings of hair follicles that lead directly to the skin surface. They serve as conduits for oil secretion, which lubricates and protects the skin surface. Pores also serve as routes for the exchange of water in the skin and for the removal of dead skin cells.
Pore size and function is affected by several factors. Generally, when a pore becomes blocked, it can lead to the appearance of large pores.
Photo: Michael Longmire
What are the common causes of enlarged pores?
Pores can become blocked by oil, dead skin cells and products used on the skin. Other factors that affect pore size and function include diet, age, gender, hormones, and skin treatments. It is known that diets that are inflammatory in nature, including high glycemic index diets, can produce inflammation in the skin and oil glands, leading to excessive oil production that blocks pores and causes enlargement.
Hormones can also lead to pore enlargement and blockage, and many women experience cyclical changes in pore size due to hormone fluctuations. Excessive or aggressive skin treatments can also lead to enlarged pores. If the skin is irritated or abraded or excessively dried, the pores can also become irritated and increase oil production to counteract these effects.
Photo: Dynamic Wang
We’ve heard of many different remedies for “shrinking” pore size. Does applying raw egg whites, Apple Cider Vinegar or other such natural acids actually work? What do you think works best to help minimize pores?
There are many treatments that are suggested to improve pore size and function. Some home remedies include apple cider vinegar, egg whites and various fruit and vegetable treatments. Many of these are based on the principles of exfoliation and astringence.
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead, dry skin cells and an astringent is used to remove oil. These home remedies are not typically recommended for use due to the potential for skin irritation and damage.
What do you recommend NOT doing, in order to keep pores from enlarging? What do you recommend for oily, acne prone but sensitive skin types to treat the appearance of large pores?
Excessive exfoliationand drying of the skin can lead to irritation and worsening of pore function and appearance, leading to acne and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Enlarged pores and oily skin are best treated with vitamin A, which exists in several forms. The most common form of vitamin A in use is Tretinoin, which is a topical vitamin A that is used for skin care. You can get this prescribed or over the counter at pharmacies, but should abide by the use labels if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Vitamin A exfoliates skin cells gently by reducing turnover, rather than simply abrading them. It reduces the size of oil glands in order to reduce secretion, rather than attempting to dry the skin with astringent. Vitamin A also has positive effects on photo-aging, fine lines and wrinkles and is an effective treatment for many types of acne. Apart from vitamin A, Niacinamide and Nicotinamide, both types of vitamin B3, can improve the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles.
However, it is important to use all treatments for pores and other skin conditions in moderation. Excessive use of vitamin A creams can cause dryness and peeling of the skin, while scrubs and other chemicals can irritate the skin. Heavy use can damage the skin and produce redness, swelling, and burns.
Lastly, there are medical grade devices, such as lasers, that can be used to treat enlarged pores. Treatment with such devices should be undertaken with a certified professional who is experienced in these procedures.