Beauty magazines photoshop them away, and filters on your smartphone blur them out. But everybody has them and they play an important role in protecting your skin. We’re talking skin pores, of course.
What are pores and why do they sometimes look large?
Pores are the opening of hair follicles that have a sebaceous gland. The natural oil secreted from the gland (sebum) keeps your skin from drying out and helps form your skin’s defence barrier, the acid mantle. So pores aren’t the bad guy here, but we still prefer they do their good work as inconspicuously as possible.
The size and visibility of skin pores varies from person to person, which is due to many factors. Genetics determine their size, but your skin type, sun exposure, what you put in your body and the way you treat your skin can also have an effect on how big or small skin pores appear.
People with oily skin tend to have larger, more visible pores, due to excess sebum production, while those with drier skin generally have tighter pores. Pores can also become enlarged when they get blocked by excess sebum, dirt and dead skin cells – a situation that often leads to pimples. Squeezing and picking these pimples can cause trauma to the skin and can lead the pores to widen permanently - so hands off!
What you put on your face can also have an impact on your skin, so it’s important to use natural, non-comedogenic products. Basically, products that don’t contain ingredients that clog up your pores or irritate them with any harmful nasties.
While you can’t change the pore size that you’ve been born with, you can minimise their appearance. Here are some key tips:
- Remove makeup - Life gets busy; sometimes you get home late and just want to collapse into bed. Before you settle in for the night, always remove your make-up before it settles into your pores.
- Regular cleansing - Ideally you need to cleanse your face morning and night. By keeping your face clean, you’re preventing the build-up of dirt, makeup and bacteria that can block pores and cause them to become enlarged. To get the most out of your cleanser, apply a warm cloth to your face first - the heat will open up the pores, so that your cleanser can access as much gunk as possible.
- Types of cleansers - Choose a natural, gentle cleanser that isn’t going to strip your skin of its protective oils, which can lead to your skin producing more sebum to compensate. Suitable for all skin types, our oil-based Mango + Apricot Sorbet Cleanser is perfect for the job. It dissolves oil-based impurities that clog your pores, leaving you with a silky, smooth finish. Alternatively, you could try our Apple Juice Foaming Cleanser - a lighter foaming wash that contains nutrients to help with a clear complexion.
- Exfoliation - Slough away excess dead skin and impurities by exfoliating regularly. Around twice a week is recommended for assisting with minimising pore size. Use a gentle exfoliator that isn’t going to irritate or strip natural oils from your skin. Our Bamboo Beads Face Scrub is a great natural scrub that contains apple amino acids to gently clean and exfoliate, without the need for any alcohol or sulphates.
- Toner and moisturiser - To help tighten pores and stimulate cell growth, use a toner after cleansing. Okana Cucumber + Lettuce Toner is packed full of nutrients that tone and protect your skin from impurities. Follow this with a natural moisturiser designed to balance your skin’s pH level. Our Natural Vegetable Day Moisturiser and Natural Berry Night Moisturiser both promote a healthy moisture barrier for your skin. Avoid coconut oil-based moisturisers, as they’re comedogenic and can clog up your pores.
- Clay masks - Clay masks are not only a nice treat – they’re also an excellent way to unclog pores. The clay draws out impurities and absorbs excess oils that are on the surface of the skin. In your skincare routine, the best time to use a clay mask is after cleansing and before a toner. Make a clay mask a Sunday night habit.
- Wear sunscreen - It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to wear sunscreen daily. The harmful UV rays from the sun break down the collagen and elastin in your skin. Over time, this causes loss of firmness and causes pores to look bigger.
- Drink enough water – I know we keep banging on about drinking water, but it’s really important for maintaining a healthy complexion. Water helps to keep your skin plump, which diminishes pore size.