What do blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and acne have in common? They’re all variations of clogged pores or comedos, which in Latin translates to worm-like structure (yikes!). Pores are home to hair follicles, or hair roots, and secrete sebum, which is an oily substance that lubricates and waterproofs the skin and hair. Functionally, pores are supposed to help protect our skin and hair but many times they leave us frustrated and finding ways to make them disappear!
When excess sebum combines with shedding dead skin cells they form a plug in the pore. If the pore is exposed to air then the sebum becomes oxidized and causes the pore to appear black (aka blackhead), while a closed pore that’s not exposed to air results in a whitehead. A pimple is also caused by blockage of the pore by sebum and skin debris with the addition of bacteria. The bacteria trigger an inflammatory response and cause the pimple to become red and swollen. As tempting as it is, it’s very important to avoid popping and touching pimples so that you don’t introduce new bacteria that can cause the pimple to become even more inflamed or infected. Acne is a long-term condition that’s essentially a combination of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and areas of excessively oily skin.
Enlarged pores can make blackheads, whiteheads and pimples even more noticeable. Unfortunately, the size of our pores is determined by genetics (thanks mom and dad), leaving some of us with tiny, indistinguishable pores and others with large, visible pores. As much as we want to wish that pores could shrink, it’s just not biologically possible. Luckily, there are a few ways for us to minimize the appearance of them:
Using a gentle cleanser and/or exfoliator can help remove excess dirt, oil, and makeup while not further agitating the skin or existing blemishes. Daily removal of buildup in our pores can help lessen the appearance of large pores by keeping them unclogged and clean.
Using beauty products that are “noncomedogenic” and won’t clog your pores. Also using products that balance your skin’s natural oils and contain ingredients that will relieve irritation and help stop pores from stretching out.
Too much sun exposure decreases the skin’s elasticity and can cause pores to look enlarged. Make sure to apply sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 to prevent this!
Oiler areas on the face (i.e. T-zone) tend to have larger pores, which produce more oil. You can use clay masks or blotting papers to help mattify the skin and reduce the appearance of pores. Toners without alcohol are also great at removing excess oil and dirt while maintaining your skin’s natural oil balance.
An experienced esthetician can help extract blackheads using an extractor an also provide a steam facial that can help open up the pores and loosen impurities clogging up the pores. Alternatively, you can create your own simple steam facial at home to achieve similar results.
Hope you found these tips helpful and let me know how they work out for you in the comments section below!