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The truth about pores: what they are (and how to minimise them)

Blots on an otherwise flawless visage, pores are everyone's nemesis - which is why we spend hours (and fortunes) attempting to rid them from the face of our... well, faces. They're shrouded in myth (nothing 'shrinks' them) but we hope they'll no longer be misunderstood once you've read our 'pore story'.

What they are...

Tiny weeny creases in the skin's surface, pores are micro folds through which our glands secrete sebum - the 'lubricant' which stops skin feeling dry and vulnerable. Their size is largely preordained - if your parents have large pores, the likelihood is you will too - however lifestyle choices (and growing older) also take their toll.

Pores are also the cause of all unwelcome skin issues: like a drain collects dead leaves and clutter, each pore collects dead cells and excess oil which leads to blackheads, whiteheads, pimples... cysts. The longer they're left unattended, the more monumental the outcome.

What can't you do about them...?

Shrink 'em. Their size is determined and nothing can physically make them smaller. That said, you can do lots of things to minimise their visibility and stop them from expanding. Collagen - skin's 'bricks' - supports the walls which keep pores rigid, so using products which encourage collagen synthesis will help to prevent them becoming enlarged. It's also a myth that pores 'open' and 'close' - they're not doors.

What can you do?

Use SPF religiously - sun exposure encourages skin to produce more sebum to enhance its own barrier function - which means more risk of pores becoming clogged. And, as UV rays can degrade skin-essential collagen, this can also cause the pore 'walls' to collapse, which means they lose shape and begin to look enlarged.

Be savvy about your skin care...

If you're concerned about enlarged or too-often blocked pores, then be selective when it comes to your skin care ingredients. Choose anti-ageing actives - such as retinol or AHAs - to encourage the synthesis of elastin and collagen, then opt for salicylic toners or treatments to de-gunk pores of oil, dead cells and debris.

A product such as January Labs {Pure & Gentle Cleansing Gel} stars willow bark extract (a natural pore-purifying agent) and is perfect as a daily decongestant. Then at night-time, choose a retinol, peptide-rich treatment or serum that's brimming with vitamin C to kick-start sluggish cells and encourage regeneration. Just be careful to steer clear of mineral oils, which can suffocate skin and cause 'road blocks'.

Soothing and cell-stimulating, Sunday Riley's {Luna Sleeping Night Oil} is ideal for those who're plagued by problem pores. With retinol and blue tansy, the oil also works hard to 'trick' skin into thinking its sufficiently hydrated - regulating oil while fortifying fragile skin.

Exfoliate gently and often - avoid physical scrubs which can exacerbate existing issues, and instead, reach for acid or enzymatic treatments which dissolve the 'glue' that sticks dead cells and spot-causing grime to skin's surface.

And mask on-the-regular. Clay-based treatments, such as Tata Harpers's {Purifying Mask} - work to draw out embedded impurities, while nutrient rich masks (something such as Sonya Dakar's {Nano Mask}), elasticise skin and promote 'stretch'.

Choose your tools...

Foreo's innovative sonic cleansing devices are an ultra-gentle (yet seriously effective) way to enhance your everyday skin care ritual. Generating up to 8000 T-Sonic pulsations per minute to help eliminate accumulated toxins and prevent unwelcome uprisings, each model provides ultra-gentle, non-irritating exfoliation, while stimulating micro-circulation to ‘feed’ sluggish cells and purify your pores.

The {LUNA Play} is ideal if you're intrigued. Only £29, the disposable model is good for up to 100, one-minute uses. A great way to invest without the risk of bankruptcy...

Verity Douglas
Verity Douglas Writer and expert
Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...

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