All About Skin Pores

Source: flickr.com user chaparral.
Source: flickr.com user chaparral.

Your entire body is covered in skin pores. Impossible to see on most of your body, these pores are actually just the surface opening to the millions of hair follicles your body has. These hair follicles are responsible for not only growing hair, but also emitting sebum (skin oil) which simultaneously expels dead skin cells and works to nourish and protect the skin.

While it’s true that an over- or under-abundance of sebum can be troublesome, it is absolutely essential to skin health and beauty. Sebum keeps the skin and hair supple, while also supplying antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and protective benefits. Additionally, it carries nutrients like vitamin E and antioxidants to the skin and hair.

In a perfect world, the hair follicle would secrete a balanced level of sebum to expel dead skin cells and nourish the skin. However, too often, the hair follicle openings called pores become blocked, which traps all of the dead skin cells and sebum beneath the skin. Before too long, bacteria joins the party, resulting in the redness and inflammation we know as a blemish, zit, or acne breakout.

Knowing all this, it’s obvious why it’s important to keep skin pores functioning normally. One of the easiest ways to make sure pores stay open is to use non-comedogenic skin care products, which are simply products formulated with ingredients that won’t clog pores. Most high-quality products these days are non-comedogenic, but it’s best to confirm before use.

Another thing to consider is your cleansing regimen. Proper cleansing with a well formulated face wash will balance sebum production, which keeps skin happy. However, products which strip the skin (remove too much oil) or don’t clean enough (leave too much oil) will upset the balance of your complexion. This can lead to an improper level of sebum which can clog pores with either a burst of too much oil, or not enough oil to flush away dead skin cells. The key word is balance, even for acne-prone complexions. 

Now for everyone’s favorite pore question: how can I make my pores smaller? No one wants large pores, even though they are a natural and normal part of our bodies! The sad news is that you can’t actually shrink pores. The good news is that there are many ways to make them appear smaller!

To make pores smaller (or at least look smaller), it’s important to exfoliate skin a couple times a week. Whether you prefer a chemical exfoliator or a scrub, exfoliation helps to remove built-up dead skin cells, which can help keep pores clear and less obvious while also smoothing, brightening, and softening the complexion.

My favorite exfoliator is an alpha hydroxy acid/salicylic acid blend, which is great for all skin types. It exfoliates by loosening dead skin cells and rinsing them away without physically scrubbing the skin, making it a favorite of sensitive and acne-prone skin types.

In addition to exfoliation, proper basic cleansing will help pores look smaller by preventing a buildup of dirt and debris. Finally, a mattifying agent can help reduce the appearance of pores by removing shine and creating a smoother palette for makeup application. Just be sure that your mattifier is non-comedogenic, and you’ll be good to go!

Do you have a question about skin pores that isn’t addressed here? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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