Just like us, pores come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on where they land on our body, they can range from teensy-tiny to more dilated and noticeable. In total, we each have about 20,000 of these small-scale skin openings which serve a multi-pronged purpose of holding hair follicles, allowing our sebaceous glands to expel natural oils (called sebum), and secreting sweat so we don’t overheat. They’re easy things to overlook, and even easier to dismiss as unimportant, but without due attention pores can quickly become clogged with a combination of dirt, dead skin, and excess sebum—leading to all manner of breakouts, blackheads, and pimples.
Back in the day (hey, the ‘90s), pore care was synonymous with lo-fi, peel-off nose strips, and that was about it. But, in 2020, it’s looking a whole lot more extensive and luxurious. So, what exactly does it take to achieve happy, clean pores? We tapped Youth To The People’s Director of Education, Laura Cline, for her non-negotiable all-things-pore rulesheet.
Work with What You’ve Got
Skin type will determine where pores are visibly larger on your face and body due to active sebaceous glands.
“For example, combination skin types have about one third of the face with more visible pores, whereas oily skin types may have visibly larger pores on half of the face, or more. Regardless of skin type, your pores may also be more (or less) visible due to genetics,” says Cline. Age and pre-existing sun damage also play a factor.
Cleanse—Gently—Like Your Life Depends on It
A diligent morning and evening cleansing routine can work wonders for your pores over time, lifting the day’s dust and rebalancing the skin’s pH before bed. Cline recommends Youth To The People’s fan-favorite Superfood Cleanser as a universally good place to start. With cold-pressed leafy kale and vitamins C, E, and K, it hydrates as it purifies for clean, non-squeaky pores, and overall healthy skin.
If cleanliness is next to pore godliness, then exfoliation is its other divinity. Try using face-friendly acids, like BHAs, AHAs, and physical exfoliants, to reduce pore congestion and keep things glowing. Cline reaches for this triple-action Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner three to five nights a week, as well as this detoxing Superfood Skin Reset Mask once or twice a week. Do the same, and you’ll be on your way to clearer skin.
Know When to Go Pro
It might sound obvious, but please don’t squeeze your pimples! Over time, the wear and tear of doing so can permanently scar skin and makes pores bigger.
“Excess oil can serve as a trap for dead skin cells to become stuck, and either form a blackhead, blemish, or stretch pores,” says Cline. Though it can be tempting, if you think you need extractions, always look to a pro. “They are trained to maintain skin health while using gentle pressure to extract debris from pores, without damaging anything.”
Reduce Doesn’t Mean Disappear
While it’s possible to minimize the appearance of pore size, it’s biologically impossible to make them vanish completely, and rightly so: pores are vital to our health, and are our body’s first responders to external aggressors like pollution and bacteria.
“Keeping pores clear and free of buildup will keep them on the smaller side,” states Cline, but you categorically cannot reduce the actual size of your pores—not now, not ever.
Written by Elsa de Berker for Youth To The People