I described the causes of enlarged pores in my previous post, and explained what these pesky little openings in our skin are for besides giving us a headache!
While pores are not little doors which can be opened and closed at will (despite what advertisements may tell you), they can be minimised with proper care and treatments. The key is to reduce their size such that they cannot be seen a mile away, and for make-up to go onto your face more easily.
A Good Skin Care Regime Keeps the Pores at Bay
Looking flawless starts from basics. Pores appear larger when dead skin accumulate around them, hence, it is essential to keep your skin healthy if you want visibly poreless skin. The basic skin-care steps of washing, toning, moisturising are important. Of note, wash your face with a suitable facial wash (choose a wash with salicylic acid if your skin if oily) regularly, but not overly so, or you will strip your skin of essential oils and worsen the situation. I recommend washing twice a day.
Toning helps to prepare your skin for receiving treatment products. A toner will help to remove traces of make-up which may clog your skin.
Exfoliate with a gentle scrub once of twice a week to get remove the top layer of dead skin cells. These days, there are many scrubs with synthetic particles (i.e. plastic) – these are gentle, but I avoid them as I prefer scrubs with natural substances such as Apricot and Sugar. Enzyme peels can also be used – my fave is Sloane Inc Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel, which uses natural vegetable and fruit enzymes to gently lift off dead cells.
Unclog Skin With Prescription Products
In my previous article, I mentioned that 2 of the main causes of enlarged pores are – oily skin, ageing, sun damage. Hence, treatment products directed at these causes will minimize pores.
Oil control products usually help minimise pores at the same time. Look for products containing Salicylic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide and Azelaic Acid. Retinols (Vitamin A derivatives) work extremely well for acne and oil control and for anti-ageing, but be careful as it can cause skin irritation. Alpha hydroxy acids such as Glycolic Acid work very well too.
Using Make-Up Correctly
While I am no expert at make-up, I do believe that the way foundation is put on plays a role. Foundation should be applied in a circular manner using a large, soft brush, rather than just putting in on in a single direction (watch the video here!) If your pores are too large, then liquid foundation would be needed to hide them – powder alone will not do.
Using a skin-primer before putting on make-up also does wonders. The best ones, I feel, are the ones containing Silicone – which acts like a filler material for the pores, smoothing out the skin surface. Estee Lauder Matte Perfecting Primer is one such product, loved by many.
Skin Care with Facials
Facials help to unclog pores. Extraction of blackheads, either manually of with a via ultrasound vibrations, help clear the skin, allowing pores to shrink. Microdermabrasion, a popular treatment using suction and crystals to exfoiliate skin, have been shown to help as well. Facials, of course, have to be done regularly to continuously clean the skin.
Laser Therapy – Renewing the Skin
Finally, and also my treatment of choice for pores – are the lasers. I prefer them as lasers do not have to be done so frequently, and also give the most visible and long lasting result. Many different lasers work for pores, including IPL, Vbeam, Laser Toning, etc, as they all stimulate collagen to some degree, but there are some which work exceptionally well.
The Carbon Laser Peel is an excellent choice for pore reduction. It involves using a pigment laser to react with a layer of carbon applied onto the face. The carbon rests in the pores, and is then eliminated by the pigment-seeking Revlite laser. The synerg
istic effects of the 2 tighten pores, reduce oil, and brighten skin brilliantly. My patients and I love this treatment because the pore reducing effects are immediate (although they do not last as long as Mixto), there is no down-time, and it is very suitable for acne prone skin. (Plus, the treatment is visually stunning to perform, as you can see below! ).
Both these lasers involving causing zones of thermal heating in the skin, allowing the skin to rejuvenate. Fraxel heats deeper, but does not ablate the skin, while Mixto ablates the skin away, and hence is associated with more crusting during the downtime period.
The original Fraxel and Mixto procedures involved a social downtime period of 5-7 days, with red/browned skin. In Singapore, very few people can afford that type of downtime, and hence we now perform the “lite” versions of the treatments – Fraxel Light, and Mixto Light, where the percentage of skin treated is lower, and hence the redness only lasts 1 day – it is mild and can be covered easily with some BB cream.
I have said it before, and will say it again – for textural improvements, nothing works on skin like the Fraxel and Mixto procedure. By controlled ablation of the skin, we allow the rest of the skin to renew itself, ridding the skin of the old problems – fine lines, pores, pigmentation, texture, tone, are all improved. For enlarged pores, the lasers give excellent results. Multiple treatments (6-8) are needed though, as only a small percentage of the skin is renewed with with treatment. But after a treatment course, the results are often visible, and long lasting. Of course, pores will still always get worse, with age and environmental damage, but what resurfacing lasers do it to reverse the damage, give it a new set point, before it slowly succumbs to ravages of time again. And with regular treatments, the skin’s good condition will then, of course be maintained.
Yes, minimizing pores is not the easiest – involving time, effort and money, but with modern creams and technology, the good news is that they can be made significantly better!