Many individuals are bothered by the look of enlarged pores on their cheeks, nose, chin or forehead. They give the skin an uneven texture, and often make makeup application difficult. Pores may appear enlarged for a variety of reasons, including genetics, sun damage, blackheads and poor exfoliation. While there is no way to permanently reduce pore size, there are several methods of diminishing the appearance of enlarged pores so they are less noticeable. Many products are available at the drug store or cosmetics counter, but some treatments require the assistance of a dermatologist.
For individuals who are interested in instant gratification, a primer for under makeup is an effective short-term solution for the appearance of enlarged pores. Choose a silicon-based formula which fills in pores. When foundation is placed over the primer, pores essentially disappear so skin has a smooth, even appearance. Using a powder puff to press translucent powder over foundation is also effective in masking the appearance of enlarged pores.
Retinoid products are topical vitamin A treatments which work as chemical exfoliants for the skin. By preventing dead skin cells from sticking together, retinoids help clear pores of dirt, oil and bacteria that may clog them and lead to blackheads or other forms of acne. Clear pores appear smaller than those that are clogged, so retinoids help give the appearance of smaller pores. Retinol is the least intense of all retinoids and may be found in many drug and department store skin care products. Some retinoids, such as tretinoin or tazarotene, offer a stronger dosage of vitamin A, and can only be prescribed by a dermatologist or other doctor. Many people experience irritation with retinoids, including redness, dryness and peeling, so it is best to start out with a mild formula and work your way up to a more intense concentration.
Alpha Hydroxy and Beta Hydroxy Acids
Alpha hydroxy (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) work in a similar fashion to retinoids, and serve as chemical exfoliants for the skin. Common AHAs include glycolic acid, malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid. The most common BHA is salicylic acid, which has the added benefit of helping control acne breakouts as well. AHAs and BHAs are effective in dissolving the bonds that hold dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, so pores do not become clogged, and will have a smaller appearance. AHAs and BHAs are available in a wide range of products, including moisturizers, serums and toners. Some products contain both ingredients for more intense exfoliation. AHAs and BHAs can dry the skin, so it is best to start out with an every other day application and progress to daily use.
Microdermabrasion treatments are a good option for individuals bothered by enlarged pores because the exfoliation process clears the pores and makes them appear smaller. Microdermabrasion is similar to exfoliating scrubs available at the drug store or cosmetics counter, but it offers more intense exfoliation. It utilizes micocrystals to buff away dead skin cells so pores are kept clean and unclogged. Microdermabrasion also stimulates the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, giving it a firmer, tighter appearance. When pores are not stretched through sagging, they also appear smaller. Many dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons offer microdermabrasion treatments, as do various spas and salons.