As you age, you probably notice your body changing in significant ways. Your skin may sag and stretch, your belly may push new boundaries, and crow's feet may creep from the corners of your eyes. To varying degrees, this aging process happens to everyone. But many of the choices we make can affect how dramatic those changes will be. In fact, most people will go out of their way to battle these signs of aging, using nutrition and exercise, creams, lotions, or even surgery.
When walking through the drug store, you'll undoubtedly notice aisles upon aisles of creams to help protect your skin from wrinkles. There are several other skin issues, however, that don't get quite as much attention. One of these problems includes enlarged pores -- the dilated, puffy look that tiny spots on your face can experience. Enlarged pores are caused by a number of factors, particularly aging and genetics. As you get older, oils and skin cells can build up in your pores, causing them to expand. Additionally, sun damage and lowered skin elasticity can make pores appear larger than usual over time [source: DocShop].
Unfortunately, it's impossible to permanently decrease the size of your pores. But you can decrease their appearance. Whether you want to go to a dermatologist or spa or you want a quick fix in the comfort of your home, there are countless tricks, products and procedures designed to minimize the appearance of your pores.
You'll start by reading about the at-home tricks you can use to cover up the appearance of large pores. Next, you'll investigate a variety of medical procedures that can help tighten your pores. Finally, you'll read about the many products available for treating enlarged pores.
See the next section to learn whether you can achieve that small-pore look without leaving the comfort of your home.
At-Home Pore-Minimizing Tricks
Before setting up a doctor's appointment or spending money on cosmetics you haven't tested, keep in mind that there are a number of simple at-home tricks you can try to decrease the appearance of your pores. First, you can use preventive measures to protect your skin. For example, by applying sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun, and by avoiding the sun's rays when they're strongest -- between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. -- you will be able to protect your skin from ultraviolet ray damage that contributes to dilated pores [source: Sorgen]. Washing your face daily with a gentle rinse will help keep your pores unclogged without irritating the skin. Although they typically call attention to pores, avoid removing blackheads or whiteheads yourself, since this can result in scarring or infection.
You can find another pore-minimizing trick on the breakfast table. You can temporarily tighten the skin, decreasing the appearance of enlarged pores, with a simple homemade masque. Simply mix two raw egg whites with a quarter cup of orange juice. Put the blend on your skin for 15 minutes or until it dries. Finally, wash off the mixture with warm water [source: WebMD].
It's not always possible to tighten the skin or minimize pore dilation. In these cases, a person can apply makeup to minimize their appearance. Try using a pre-foundation skin primer to even out skin tone, followed by a cream-based foundation, which is better at concealing pores than the liquid varieties. Finally, use a loose powder to dust your face and leave your skin looking balanced [source: DocShop].
If the eggs, orange juice and make-up don't do the trick, read on to discover some more technical techniques that will require a trip to a medical professional.
Although many at-home remedies are effective at reducing the appearance of enlarged pores, people often seek professional help when treating their skin. There are a number of medical procedures that can reduce the size of pores and keep your skin looking healthy. A recent study found that fractional photothermolysis -- a form of laser therapy -- is successful in not just treating acne scars but also temporarily decreasing the size of pores [source: Cho]. The procedure removes outer layers of skin and clears debris from pores, cleaning them out and minimizing the dilation that comes with blockage [source: Northington].
A similar treatment to laser therapy is microdermabrasion, a process that uses a vacuum-like suction with miniature crystals sprayed over the skin. The crystals erode the outer layers of skin, while the vacuum removes dead skin cells and oils that may block pores. It's similar to a chemical peel, in which an acid is spread across the skin to wear away the rough outer layers [source: University of Michigan]. With both microdermabrasion and chemical peels, repeated treatments are often necessary to achieve the best results.
Although the scientific community hasn't fully embraced it and few comprehensive tests exist, many people with enlarged pores are turning to facial rejuvenation through acupuncture, a treatment in which tiny needles are inserted into specific points on the body. During acupuncture, blood flow increases in the skin of the face, which helps improve muscle tone and tightens enlarged pores and sagging skin. Additionally, some experts believe that facial rejuvenation acupuncture stimulates new cell growth and reduces the buildup of harmful elements in the skin [source: Kecskes].
Although it's always a good idea to at least consult with a dermatologist, you may not want to spend the time, money and effort necessary to receive medical treatment. Next, you'll read about some pore-minimizing options that fall between the extremes of home remedies and laser treatments.
It's important to know that -- besides at-home treatments and different medical procedures -- there are a number of skin-care products on the market. Anti-aging creams often contain retinol, a form of vitamin A, and users typically put these products on overnight. Retinol can tighten the skin up, reducing the appearance of pores. In addition to retinol, look for products with vitamin C and alpha or beta hydroxy acids [source: Crawford].
Exfoliating creams are widely available, and they all help to reduce the size of large pores. Exfoliating creams work in a similar way to microdermabrasion or chemical peel procedures. By wearing away the outer layers of skin, they reveal undamaged lower layers and stimulate new cell growth. However, exfoliating creams are less abrasive, and you can use them at home without the help of a doctor.
Because blackheads and whiteheads can enlarge pores, products designed to treat acne often help keep your complexion uniform and pores healthy-looking. After taking a warm shower, which should help dilate pores, apply a blackhead strip or similar product to the area you'd like to treat. Follow the product's directions to safely remove blackheads without the risk of scarring or infection. There are also more mechanical means of removing blackheads with vacuum-like devices, which allow a person to completely remove a single blackhead without pain or risk of scarring.
Although it may be frustrating to learn that it's not possible to tighten up enlarged pores permanently, you won't have to constantly suffer. These treatments can keep your skin looking vibrant and youthful. If you make the right choices and carefully test different approaches, it's possible to maintain a healthy tone. As always, speak to a dermatologist if you're uncertain about a particular product or procedure. Follow the links on the following page to learn more about the different methods for minimizing pores.
- Cho S.B., J.H. Lee, M.J. Choi, K.Y. Lee and S.H. Oh. "Efficacy of the fractional photothermolysis system with dynamic operating mode on acne scars and enlarged facial pores." Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology Research Institute. Jan. 2009. (Aug. 13, 2009)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19076205
- DocShop. "Large Pores: How to Shrink the Appearance of Large Pores." (Aug. 12, 2009) http://www.docshop.com/education/dermatology/skin-flaws/large-pores/
- Kecskes, Alex. "Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture." Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. (Aug. 12, 2009) http://www.pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/450.html
- Northington, Marian. "Skin Resurfacing With Fractional Photothermolysis." University of Alabama at Birmingham. 2007. (Aug. 12, 2009) http://www.health.uab.edu/16225/
- Sorgen, Carol. "Grooming Essentials for Women: Skin and Hair Care Products." WebMD. July 21, 2009. (Aug. 12, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/grooming-essentials-women-skin-hair-care-products
- University of Michigan. "Treatment Options." (Aug. 12, 2009)http://www.med.umich.edu/derm/patient/cdlctreatment.shtml
- Web MD. "Spring Cleaning: How to Pamper Your Skin." Oct. 19, 2007. (Aug. 12, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/how-pamper-your-skin?
- Web MD. "Your Skin: Are You Doing Too Much or Too Little?" (Aug. 12, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/your-skin-are-you-doing-too-much-or-too-little