skincare large pores dermatologist

Can you actually shrink large pores? A dermatologist reveals how

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Visible pores are totally normal but if you’re concerned about the size of yours, we’re here to help. We asked consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall to give us the low-down on the products, treatments and procedures that can help shrink large pores…

While Instagram, airbrushed adverts and unrealistic beauty standards might have you believe otherwise, visible pores on your skin are totally normal. But, larger pores can be a beauty bugbear for some people – often leading to blackheads in the area concerned. 

Head to any skincare aisle and you’ll find countless products promising to “shrink” pores – but do these really work? We chatted to Dr Justine Hextall, FRCP consultant dermatologist, and asked her to debunk the myths and explain what works when it comes to treating large pores. 

Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about large pores, blackheads and the ingredients that will help reduce them for good…

What determines pore size?

“Essentially our pore size is determined by genetics. Around puberty, our skin starts to produce more oil that causes pores to become more visible. Despite this genetic variation, there are definitely skincare changes that can help,” says Dr Hextall.      

Do our pores get larger with age?

“As we get older, often one of the earliest changes we notice is a change in our skin’s texture. The collagen and elastin within our skin play a very important part here; as we start to lose the structure they provide, our pores can become more visible. It’s estimated 80% of ageing is so-called photo-ageing from UV exposure, so it’s important to make sure you wear a broad-spectrum, high-factor sun cream daily.” 

“Secondly when our pores become blocked with oil, dirt and flakes of skin they are more visible. Finding a gentle exfoliating acid can help dissolve these pore contents. The BHA salicylic acid will penetrate deep into the pore and remove oil. I like Paula’s choice BHA 2% serum as it is very effective but also gentle. Remember that over-stripping the skin with harsh cleansers can potentially disrupt the skin’s natural acidic pH, causing increased water loss, dryness and irritation. Some studies suggest that the skin can start to produce more oil to compensate. Therefore using more gentle products on oily, blemish-prone skin that soothe and hydrate might also minimise excessive oil production. I recommend all my acne patients use a light hydrating moisturiser.”

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Do products that claim to “shrink pores” actually work? 

“Yes, I think some can help. Firstly topical AHAs and BHAs can help unblock pores with dead skin cells and oil, and this will minimise the appearance of pores. Likewise retinoids have a two-fold benefit. Firstly, they help to reduce blocked pores, minimising the appearance of large pores. But they also help to stimulate collagen and elastin, which in turn improves skin texture, giving an appearance of smoother firmer skin with less visible pores.”

What’s the best way of reducing blackheads? 

“I would suggest using topical exfoliating acids such as glycolic and salicylic acid to help unblock pores and remove oil deep in the pores. I would also recommend introducing a retinoid to help to slowly improve skin texture over time, helping to minimise the appearance of pores.”

“I like azelaic acid as it helps to unblock pores and reduce inflammation and so I often introduce it to manage blemish-prone skin. Niacinamide is felt to help balance oil production and strengthen the skin barrier, so this may explain why niacinamide seems to help to minimise the appearance of pores, although it is not fully understood.”

Are there any treatments that can help minimise pores?

“There are some good in-clinic treatments to help to improve skin texture and minimise pores. In my practice I recommend peels, IPL and nano-fractional laser. I also like combining micro-needling with mesotherapy to support the production of collagen, improve skin texture and minimise the appearance of enlarged pores. In my view improving skin texture, tone and supporting skin hydration are the most important steps in creating healthy skin that glows.

Finally, I cannot express how important it is to protect our skin from external aggressors such as UV and pollution. I highly recommend combining antioxidants such as vitamin C with a high-factor, broad-spectrum sun cream daily.”

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