Make Your Pores Look Smaller: The Adult Edition
Generally, a large pore equals a clogged pore. But most of us are well past our oily teen years, so why would our pores be anything but squeaky clean—and teeny-tiny? Lots of reasons.
You’re not exfoliating enough Your pores may not be overflowing with sebum like they were at sixteen, but dead cells (which do build up on 40+ skin) can also get stuck inside pores and stretch them out. The best way to remove those cells is with regular sloughing: peels, aha serums, retinoids, gentle scrubs. Retinoids (like Retin-A) also get bonus points for boosting collagen production and firming the skin—and this matters because pores get pulled down by slack skin, making them look larger. My favorite sloughers are: Beauty Rx Glycolic Acid Peel Pads and my Rx Tretinoin .025. If you’re interested, here is more info on how and when I use them. Note: Beauty Rx also makes a Dermstick for Pores with gycolic acid that is intended for use just on and around the nose; this is an option for someone not interested in using (or investing in) the pads just for pore shrinkage.
You had really oily skin as teen When I was researching a story on large pores for Women’s Health a few years ago, Elizabeth Hale, M.D., one of the most knowledgeable dermatologists I know, told me that for some, pores that became enlarged in your teen years due to super-active sebaceous glands don’t ever shrink back on their own. If that’s you, she says in-office photodynamic therapy can help. The way it works: A photosensitizing solution is applied for about an hour, then your skin is treated with a blue light for ten to fifteen minutes. You usually need at least three treatments to see results. (Cost is around $500 per treatment.)
You’ve spent a lot of time in the sun UV-damaged skin tends to be coarser and thicker, which can make even normal-sized pores more apparent. This crater-y effect is compounded by the fact that damaged skin also tends to be lax, and any sagging stretches pores and makes them appear larger. The news is not all bad though. You can stave off, or limit the amount of damage that makes its way to your skin's surface, by being diligent with retinoids, as outlined above—and by slathering on sunscreen every day. Every. Day. I was a lifeguard in high school and spent too much time in tanning beds in my early twenties (I know, I know), and this has been working for me so far. My favorite sunscreen: Elta MD Clear SPF 46.
You’re wearing the wrong makeup Heavy foundation and thick powder will sink into pores, stretching them and making them appear larger. Shimmery bronzers and highlighters can also make pores appear more pronounced, as they sink into the skin and literally make pores look dark—or sparkly. Neither of which is flattering. This is why you often hear makeup artists say “less is more” as you age. They’re not letting you off the hook; they literally mean lighter, sheerer foundations, tinted moisturizers, BB Creams—and silky, very-finely-milled powders look way better on aging skin because they're less apt to sink into pores or lines. In fact, some of these uber-light formulas also contain tiny particles that diffuse light, creating a soft-focus finish on the skin, which is great for someone struggling with pore appearance. The best product I’ve found for this purpose is It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Powder. It comes as either a loose powder (my preference) or a pressed one. The color is translucent and works on all skin tones, and the finish is flawless. I use a small brush to apply to just my nose and chin. The effect: What pores?