I received a request for information from the howtobearedhead.com blog site recently, concerning how to minimize pore size – especially for sensitive skin… They stated the deadline was the 27th, but they published their article on the 26th! Oh well, they probably would not have been interested in my scientific approach to the subject any way. I maintain that good skin care cannot be reduced to 5 second soundbites…:-)
The Request: We’re looking for a skin expert to comment on how to 1) naturally minimize pores and/or 2) the best products to minimize pores. We’re looking for the information to be curtailed to those with sensitive skin.
Firstly, we all have the pore size we’re genetically born with. We can’t selectively change pore size by using any medical of cosmetic products.
Secondly, pore size can ‘appear’ larger because sebum and dry skin stuck in the pore makes it appear disgorged and larger. For this, proper cleansing and exfoliation will help reduce clogged pores and make them appear ‘normal’ for that individual.
Thirdly, a loss of elasticity in the skin as we age will ensure that gravity will make pores appear larger.
Solutions for #1 are makeup related. Conceal the skin and your pore size with masses of makeup. I am not a fan of masking the skin – rather treat it properly and gently with good skin care and be proud of the skin you are in. That’s the most natural approach!
Solutions for #2 will be very different from the norm when considered for sensitive skin:
Gentle cleansing with an oil based cleanser. Dirt and debris (including makeup) naturally attaches to oil – it’s just a scientific fact. A good, light, oil cleanser will include small amounts of emulsifiers so that it can be removed from the skin with cool water (the oil turns milky when water is added). Oil cleansers do not strip your natural moisturizer (lipid barrier) off the skin. Squeaky clean is unnatural and bad for the skin.
Use cool water only. Hot or warm water is terribly bad for sensitive skin. Hot and warm water relaxes the skin and makes the pores appear larger.
Cleanse only once per day – most importantly the evening. Cleansing 2x per day is bad for all skin, but especially bad for sensitive skin. Never use detergent cleansers, even so-called ‘natural’ ones.
Do not overstimulate the sebaceous glands and thus create more opportunity for sebum to clog in pores. Over cleansing the skin and using hot or warm water will naturally over stimulate the sebaceous glands.
Gently exfoliate the skin at night using a very mild enzyme or alpha hydroxy acid that is no lower than a 4pH. Most sensitive skins can tolerate these. The alpha hydroxy acid should be no more than 3% in concentration. Because it is a slightly lower pH than the skin, some sensation should be expected. It is not to be feared. The exfoliant should be splashed off the skin after 3 – 5 minutes to neutralize the effect on the skin. Scrubs and brushes should never be used as exfoliators – especially not for sensitive skin. Exfoliation reduces the build up of dry/dead cells in the pores. Exfoliation should be carried out 3 nights a week for sensitive skin, but may be done 5 to 7 nights a week for best effect of maintaining ‘normal’ pore size.
Apply a soothing, simple, hydration gel to the skin after exfoliating. Hydration gels bind water to the skin and help reduce appearance of wrinkles and pore size.
Apply a light or rich lipid based moisturizer over the hydration gel – depending on what your skin needs. Squalane from olives is good. Shea butter is good. Coconut oil is good. The medium chain fatty acids of coconut oil (capric/caprylic triglycerides) are found in most moisturizers.
Other important aspects of treating sensitive skin can be found at Sensitive Skin Clinic.
Solutions for #3 require strengthening the skin collagen and elastin:
Light peptides in a gentle silicone base. This will create a non-irritant formula for sensitive skin. Peptides will strengthen collagen and elastin and reduce the visible effects of aging and gravity.
An esterized Vitamin C will enable the best form of Vitamin C (tetrahexydecyl ascorbate) to penetrate the skin and stimulate collagen growth, provided it is in a non irritant oil base and utilizes anti irritant ingredients like sea whip. It can be applied to the skin under a soothing and hydrating mask, left on for 15 minutes and splashed off with cool water. The results on reducing the appearance of wrinkles and pore size is amazing. This can be done 3 to 5 times per week.
Artificial means of temporarily reducing pore size usually entails astringents (like lemon juice or witch hazel) or light inflammatory agents like retinols that induce slight edema (swelling) so visually reducing wrinkles and pore size. This approach is highly contraindicated for people with any level of sensitive skin.
All medical solutions approved by the FDA are tested on animals and I find that to be abhorrent. I prefer skin care products that use vegan or vegetarian compliant ingredients.