As if blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, freckles, age spots, wrinkles, and acne scars are not enough, the skin on our faces often shows little brown marks that are due to large pores. Oddly enough, many people who do not see it in the mirror but immediately see it on photographs of themselves. Photographs are obviously forever, so the large pore problem is a big one. My husband has an enthusiastic selfie habit and I used to cringe every time I was caught on one of his photos. I bought many useless pore minimizing creams before I finally stumbled onto one that worked. I still use it on my face twice a day and my skin is now so much smoother, evenly toned, and less shiny.
What Causes Large Pores?
Large pores are most common on the faces of people with oily skin, but those with dry or damaged skin can also get them for different reasons. Let’s deal with oily skin first.
Large Pores on Oily Skin
Your oil glands are situated in the middle layer of your skin, also called the dermis. Your pores are the channels through which the oil travels from your dermis to the surface of your skin, also called the epidermis. Because there are so many paws all over your skin, the epidermis gets moisturized all over. That’s when things are going well, anyway.
When the oil gets stuck inside the pores, your skin enlarges the pores so that it can move through more smoothly. When this happens, you have large pores.
The important thing is, therefore, to understand why the oil gets stuck inside the pores.
- Your skin produces too much oil so that your pores must be enlarged. This is usually caused by an excess of androgen sex hormones, the male sex hormones that our bodies produce in large amounts especially during adolescence.
- Your skin does not shed its dead cells properly, normally caused by your genes. Remember that your skin constantly rejuvenates itself by producing new skin cells. The old dead cells must pass from your dermis through your pores to the surface of your skin where you can wash them off. If these dead cells get stuck in your pores, they trap a lot of oil with them, prompting your body to enlarge your pores.
In other words, you want to ensure that your skin produces the appropriate amount of oil and that your skin cells can pass smoothly through your pores.
Large Pores on Dry and Damaged Skin
Your dermis consists mostly of collagen and elastic tissue that support your skin and give it its firm structure. When this supportive tissue starts to disintegrate, your pores expand. Anything that damages your skin can trigger this.
- We all develop wrinkles as we age because the supportive tissue below the skin surface falls away. This is the same process that stretches your pores.
- When your skin produces too little oil to moisturize itself properly, your skin surface and the supportive tissue below it become dry and brittle.
- The redness and peeling are not the worst things that happen to your skin when you spend a lot of time in the sun. The supportive tissue below the surface is fried too.
- Any skin wound can permanently damage the supportive tissue below. This is why some scars, and especially acne scars, are either raised or indented. If you squeeze pimples or blackheads, you may cause stretched pores.
How to Shrink Pores
The best product I have found is called Revitol Pore Minimizer. It is no marketing scam as some seem to think, the company produces many skin products that have been successful for me and has been in business since 2002. You can apply it to your skin once or twice a day. It works perfectly as a primer under make-up and as a night cream.
The company does not explicitly claim that this cream can shrink your pores permanently, which is a refreshing level of honesty from the cosmetics industry. Many experts believe that it is not possible to reduce your pore size, as opposed to just making them appear smaller. You would have to try it for yourself. At the beginning I believed that it could not shrink my pores permanently, and that I would have to continue using the product for ever. I did not really mind this, as long as it worked. I have now reduced my use from twice to once a day, and my pores are not visible at all. I would have to drop the cream completely to test whether it is permanent, something I’m not yet willing to do.
When you look at the ingredients, you will see there is quite a lot of scientific research that explains why they are included and why they work so well.
- Alpha-lipoic acid (or ALA) is found primarily in fish and plant oils. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that increases the amount of other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E in your body. Simultaneously, it reduces the concentration of inflammatory chemicals in your blood. It protects the skin from the sun, it reduces the roughness caused by exposure to sun, chemicals, and normal ageing, and it promotes smoothness of the skin, even when clinically examined with a laser. Altogether, it protects your skin from damage and leaves it soft and smooth. When it smooths out, the pores are substantially less visible.
- Dimethyl MEA (DMAE) can increase firmness and fullness of facial skin, can reduce wrinkles, and can improve and level the skin tone. The firmer and fuller your skin, the more likely it is that unnecessarily large pores will get enough support from your skin to shrink again.
- Polysorbate 20 is made from lauric acid, a substance found in coconuts. It effectively inhibits the propionibacterium acnes bacteria that congregate in and block your pores along with oil. This is the bacterium that causes acne. It has a penetration enhancing effect, whereby it helps your skin to absorb it and ingredients mixed with it. This is important to ensure that the cream penetrates your pores down to your dermis to clean, protect, and moisturize. It is good at removing chemicals that erode your skin, such as the phenols contained in soap. It is also a great moisturizer. In so doing, it keeps your skin moist enough so that it does not overreact by producing too much oil.
- Copper gluconate is included in many products for ageing skin because it’ can help to maintain the supportive tissue in your dermis. It helps to build collagen that gives your skin its strength and elastin that gives your skin its elasticity. This is the supportive tissue that enables your pores to shrink again once they have expanded. It can speed up wound healing, it can help to firm up your skin to minimize wrinkles, and it can reduce dark spots. All these effects are probably due to its ability to keep your skin strong and elastic.
- Zinc gluconate is a substance that fights inflammation and prevents oil from blocking your pores. As such, it is a proven acne treatment. It improves immune function in your skin, and it combats acne producing bacteria as well as some common antibiotics do. If your pores cannot be blocked, the chances much smaller that they will enlarge.
- Salicylic acid is a specialist dead cell remover to ensure that your skin sheds dead cells successfully through your pores to the surface of your skin. They can then not get stuck inside your pores.
As you can see, this is a great all-around skin product that improves your skin tone, its elasticity, its firmness, and its strength. It also keeps your pores clean and open while ensuring that your skin remains moisturized. My skin is now smoother and brighter in tone than it has ever been and, of course, those horrible pores are back to normal.
General Tips for Shrinking Pores
Together with the Revitol cream, you could try to do as many as possible of the following:
Drink approximately eight glasses of water per day. This will ensure that your body has enough fluid with which to make oil and it will keep the oil runny to facilitate its smooth progress to the surface of your skin.
- Researchers have tentatively linked diets high in dairy and sugar with excessive skin oil production. Replace white and brown table sugar with stevia, coconut sugar, date syrup, maple syrup, or agave nectar. Replace white bread and pasta with wholegrain products. Experiment with nut and grain milk to replace some of your dairy. Test nutritional yeast, sesame seeds, and breadcrumbs as substitutes for cheese as a dish topping. Buy some tofu and blended with herbs and spices to serve as a cheese sauce. Alternatively, by vegan cheese and non-hydrogenated vegan margarine.
- Steam can help to open your pores. If you do not have access to a sauna or steam room, boil water on the stove, remove it from the heat, place it on a heat resistant surface, and lean over it. If it is too hot, cover your face with a thin cloth. Once a week should suffice.
- Where a hat or a sunblock with a sun protection factor of at least 30 to protect your face from sun damage.
- Refrain from squeezing pimples and blackheads.
- Wash your face twice a day with a slightly abrasive cloth to keep your pores clear.
- Buy a facial scrub to use once or twice a week, or make your own at home by mixing, for example, brown rice or oatmeal with your favorite face wash or even with the Revitol Pore Minimizer cream.
Home Remedies to Shrink Pores
Many websites offer long lists of suggestions to reduce the size of your pores. My experiments with many of these were unsuccessful. Moreover, I spent just as much money on these ingredients that I ended up spending on the Revitol Pore Minimizer that does work. Still, for completeness sake, I will list some of them here.
- A facial wash that contains water, full cream milk, an egg white, and baking soda. The idea is that it may clean pore clogging bacteria and dead cells. If you do it twice a day, it will cost you two eggs, at least half a cup of milk, and 4 tablespoons of baking soda per day. Even worse, you will have to sit around for between five and 10 minutes after which you will have to wash it off. I can think of few facial washes or cleansers that are more time-consuming.
- Much of the advice, including the skin wash above, is to apply substances that are alkaline instead of acidic. A simpler version is a baking soda paste, where you mix baking soda with lukewarm water and massage that into your skin. This is interesting, because the natural pH of your skin falls squarely in the acidic range to serve as a barrier to prevent bacteria, viruses, and other pests from penetrating your body. That is why I am always skeptical of suggestions to alkalize your skin. Excessive interference with the natural state and behavior of body parts seems to be a bad idea.
- Witch hazel (hamamelis virginiana) is fast becoming natural health enthusiasts’ favorite panacea for a long list of ailments. It certainly is a good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and does protect skin cells from damage. Its supposedly astringent (pore-constricting) properties have not been studied or verified.
- Aloe is also believed to be an astringent, but the basis for this belief is unknown. Aloe Vera seems to have anti-inflammatory and anti-acne properties, but other than that, its effects on skin have not been studied. Furthermore, if you buy aloe products, they almost always contain plenty of synthetic chemicals that may damage your skin.
- Clay masks are supposed to penetrate your pores and absorb excess oil from them. This
probably works, but there is no reason to believe that it will give you an edge above the Revitol cream that also removes oil from your pores. If you have money to blow, go ahead.
- Ice water can temporarily make your pores appear smaller, in the same way as freezing tends to contract everything from food to water. It will obviously work only for as long as your skin is cold. It might give you just enough time to take a photo.
- Lemon juice and lemon essential oil are believed to be pore constrictors. Whether it works is not clear from available research. The big danger is that citrus substances make your skin extremely sensitive to direct sunlight. You will not contract your pores if you expose your skin to sun damage. Rather eat vitamin a and C for skin health. Vitamin a is plentiful in kale, spinach, red pepper, cantaloupe, carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, and all orange vegetables. You can find vitamin C in oranges, guavas, kiwifruit, blackberries, strawberries, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, papaya, mango, kale, turnip greens, and so forth.
- Rosehip oil is not an essential oil, but rather a cold pressed oil. It is included in the majority of cosmetic products for ageing skin. The research on its skin benefits is sparse and there is certainly nothing that suggests that it can shrink pores. Still, if you like it like I do, use it as a moisturizer in the morning while using the Revitol cream at night. Pure organic rosehip oil is one of the most expensive carrier or cold pressed oils, however, so you will not save money if you use that instead of Revitol’s product.
- Clinique has a popular product which failed for me. It left my face shiny, the pores reappeared after three hours, and at 0.5 ounces for $20, it is rather pricey. I cannot evaluate it scientifically, as the company is far from transparent about the ingredients.
- The popular GoodSkin Labs product did not work either. It added shine, possibly because it includes mica, a mineral pigment that increases shine. At the same size as the Clinique product, it is overpriced and reduces pore size only minimally
- I did not try any of the prestige brands like Dr. Brandt, Tarte, and Too Faced because, firstly, they contain ingredients similar to Revitol’s product and, secondly, they would have set me back between $30 and $40 for less than a month’s supply.
I suddenly love photos of myself and no longer shrink away from cameras. My skin is brighter and smoother and those large pores are gone. It now looks attractive and feels silky. It is not a miracle cure, you will have to apply it for a few weeks before you see the effect. Please, do not give up just before the benefit kicks in. You have seen the scientific research, you have read testimonies by people like me, and the company is old and trusted. I would be willing to pay double the price for this. Do yourself a favor and find out why.