Pores. They stand between you and flawless, smooth skin. Annoying as they may be at times, they are vital to your skin’s health. Pores are actually small openings in the epidermis that provide a way for subcutaneous oil (which is essential) to lubricate and protect your skin. They usually enlarge during puberty, when oil glands beneath the skin begin to increase the amount of oil that they produce. Because there is a higher concentration of these oil glands around your nose area, you’ve probably noticed more enlarged pores there. Unless you have oily skin, your pores usually shrink back down during your middle aged years. However, having oily skin actually can be a plus, keeping your face looking younger than your dry-skin counterparts. It’s all in how you approach dealing with those enlarged pores. I’ve been obsessed with trying to keep mine as clean as possible, especially when it comes to the “trouble spots”.
After speaking to Dr. Sapna Westley, a dermatologist from the Mercer Street Medical office (www.drwestley.com), I learned a factoid or two about pores. Pore size is largely genetic, so you more or less have to work with the hand you’re dealt. However, a proper skin care routine can help minimize their appearance, leaving skin looking nearly flawless. Washing your face before going to bed is a no-brainer, but to ensure a thorough scrub down, go for products with practical ingredients. “Salicylic acid is good for pores,” says Westley. “It penetrates deep into the oil gland. Most importantly, DO NOT SQUEEZE blemishes on your face. I’ve yet to meet a person who is not guilty of self-extraction. What seems like a harmless procedure can actually stretch the size of pores, not to mention leave scars.”
Armed with this knowledge, and slightly guilt-ridden from my own bad habits, I’ve set out on a mission to find some of the best products on the market.
Save face with the Dr. Brandt Poreless Essential Kit. No, seriously. The contents of this little black bag work as a team to garner amazing results. Start off with the Poreless Cleanser, which lathers up nicely (it’s like a bubble bath for your face). And because it contains salicylic acid, your face is bound to be squeaky clean. Follow up with Poreless Toner to sweep away any left over residue. Now here comes the tricky part. Do you use the Poreless Gel or Pore Effect? Both can be used interchangeably but the Poreless Gel works great for the a.m. routine, treating blemish prone skin with tea tree and witch hazel that help balance the skin’s pH level, while Pore Effect is best for nightly routine. The cream feels like soufflé – light and airy. Finally, the kit comes with a Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion sample. The teeny-tiny granules exfoliate to completely polish off the skin’s surface. Available at www.beauty.com.
‘What the…brownish crème….really?’ I thought skeptically as the Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pore Minimizer and Mattifier was squeezed onto my finger. Completely convinced that the product would leave streaks that resemble a poor self-tanning job all over my face, I rubbed the mattifier on my cheeks. Hallelujah! No stripes and my skin looked smooth, smooth, smooth and felt soft, soft, soft. The product works by using silicone polymers that create a breathable film that fills in the pores, creating skin that would make porcelain dolls jealous. Available at www.sephora.com.
If you have oily skin, try the Abrioné Balancing Act Herbal Toner. The formula reduces oil production, which can lead to dilated pores that are prone to trapping dirt, making them more noticeable. Avoid the vicious cycle, and a grease monkey face, by applying Abrioné through out the day, especially if you’re strapped for time. The alcohol-free toner cleanses with geranium oil, soothes with aloe vera, and reduces irritation with witch hazel. Thanks to skin softening properties of ivy, you can fight another pore magnifying culprit – sun damage, known to cause the top layer of the skin to thicken around the edges. Available at www.abrione.com.
No doubt you’ve heard about Estée Lauder Idealist, a magic potion for beautiful skin. Just when you thought you couldn’t find a better product, the company releases Estée Lauder New Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher. The new formula contains three times more concentrated Glucosamine, a sugar derivative responsible for the extraordinary refinishing results. The ingredient weakens the skin’s bonds, expediting the cycle of shedding dead surface skin cells. Plus, it works just as well inside the pores as on the surface of the skin. Having used it for a couple of weeks, I definitely feel that the formula has made in my skin’s appearance, especially when used before applying make-up. Available at fine department stores and www.esteelauder.com.
Who knew that cleaning pores could actually be fun? Don’t believe me, try Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask or Kose Seikisho Mask White. First off, the Kose Seikisho Mask White mask is actually black in color. The ‘white’ in the title refers to the whitening effect on the skin as it peels of old keratin and dirt. Think of it as a giant Bioré strip for your face. You can actually see the forest of blackheads pulled out. As if an oxymoron is a key ingredient in these masks, Origins Clear Improvement uses white china clay to absorb environmental toxins; just beware that this mask may feel slightly tingly if you have sensitive skin. In any case, you can purify your skin and freak out your roommate at the same time. Boo! Available at www.origins.com and www.neobeauty.com.