Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ask Outinapout:
Do Pore Minimizers Really Work?

The Question
I was wondering if you know if there are pore minimizing treatments, permanent fixes, or even any products that can temporarily help reduce pore size. I've tried pore refining primers, such as Benefit Porefessional, and treatments like Peter Thomas Roth gel and Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner but none really seem to help.

I've heard masks, exfoliating, and toner/witch hazel help but I'm not sure if this is true?

My Answer
As you've no doubt realized, there are a lot of products out there claiming they can make pores appear smaller. The bad news is, most of the claims out there are simply marketing, and the key word is appear. The majority of "pore-refining" products, like both the Benefit and Dr. Brandt products you mentioned, simply help cosmetically. They use silicone to essentially act like spackle, scattering light and smoothing over the surface of the pore to make the skin look smoother. Depending on the size of your pores, this bit of optical trickery may not even be noticeable. More importantly, products like this don't do anything to permanently improve pore size- as soon as you wash them off, the benefits are gone.

As far as other topical treatments like masks, toners and exfoliators, it all comes down to what's on the label. The list of key ingredients to search for is a short one- there are really only two that I would bother spending my money on when it comes to pore refining:

Salicylic acid (aka. beta hydroxy acid or BHA) is a chemical exfoliant that's oil soluble, so it can actually dissolve and remove the gunk in your pores that's stretching them out and making them look larger. Salicylic acid is readily available at all price points, in products ranging from at-home daily treatments to the higher concentration chemical peels performed by dermatologists or estheticians. If you choose the do-it-yourself route, you'll want to make sure the product you choose is effective, so read this post for more info on choosing the correct product and starting a BHA regime.

FYI, I'm not sure exactly which Peter Thomas Roth gel you're using, but the AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel does contain salicylic acid, so provided it's used at the correct pH, you should see some improvements. Keep in mind, however, that it takes time for these types of products to work- a minimum of 4 weeks, but often up to 6-8 weeks to see a real difference.

Retinol can also be helpful for pore reduction. Since it increases the rate at which your skin renews itself and encourages your skin to produce healthier cells, it can strengthen and tighten the skin. Tighter skin means smaller pores! Keep in mind, not all retinols are created equal; I highly suggest spending a little extra and springing for a trip to your doctor for a prescription for this one!

As far as longer-term results, most experts will tell you that there is no permanent treatment to reduce pore size. There is some evidence that fractional CO2 laser treatments or photodynamic therapy (PDT) may be options, though it would seem the jury is still out on both treatments. Of course, both treatments carry risks, so this would definitely be something to discuss with a dermatologist.

The real rub about pore size is that it's largely influenced by genetics, so in some ways, we're all stuck with what we've got. Of course, the condition of your skin will always play a part. Oily, thicker skin often has more noticeable pores, and the more built up debris on the skin, the more obvious the pores will look. Adding the treatments I mentioned above to a skin-type appropriate skin care regiment can go a long way toward giving you the skin (and pore size) you want!


MakeupAriel said...

This was very helpful, informative, & extremely well written. Good job.

♥ YourBFF ♥ said...

I was just thinking about this today, and had considered purchasing Benefit Porefessional, but after reading all of the info you provided I think I'd better treat the source rather than cover them up. Thanks for the details! <3

pore minimizing products said...

For me I found it effective when it comes in using pore minimizing products like face masks which is my favorite. ;)

Anonymous said...

My large pores do not stem from oily skin, so I/m using a AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) exfoliant to help my skin look a bit fresher and finer pored. And a silicone primer to help for the temporary pore minimizing bit :)

Unknown said...

Thanks so much! There's so much confusion and misinformation about skin care out there. If I can help even one person sift through the rubble, I'm happy :)

Glad this got to you in time! Keep in mind, cosmetic treatments like silicone based primers can be combined with your BHA/retinol routine, so you can get the best of both worlds- and there are so many primers on the market now, there's no reason to spend big bucks to get a good one. I recommend Olay Regnerist Serums- the silicone base smooths pores and fine lines, plus it's a great protective and anti-aging formula to boot!

Though oily skin is more prone to showing large pores, it's definitely not the only cause or skin type affected. Sun damage, genetics and just plain aging play a role too.

As you mentioned, a gentle exfoliation routine can be all someone needs to make pores look smaller. As dead skin accumulates, it builds up around the edges of the pores, making them look larger than they really are. Sloughing off that skin can make pores, and even fine lines, look better. Your choice of AHA to exfoliate is a great one- I actually prefer chemical exfoliants myself because, in general, I find them less irritating and harder to mess up than manual "scrubs".

Story of a Girl said...

Thanks for answering the question I sent and for the product recommendations. I really appreciate it. I often hear about masks, exfoliating beads and toners helping with pore size and so I was confused with this. Thanks for the clarification. Now I know not to fall for the face primers that "smooth pores and lines".

Thanks again

Unknown said...

Story of a Girl,

No problem! It was a great question and one I know a lot of people wonder about, so thanks for asking! :)

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