Our tropical climate is a bane to skin. The combination of heat and humidity encourages sebum production, which makes us prone to clogged and enlarged pores. Dermatologists and aesthetic physicians reveal that open pores are a major concern among many patients. Unless you plan to move to cooler climes, dealing with open pores must be part of your regular skincare regime.
Dr Calvin Chan, director of Calvin Chan Aesthetic & Laser Clinic, says: “There is no permanent cure for enlarged pores. We can use over-the-counter products and/or clinic treatments to help achieve a temporary reduction but the effects last only as long as treatment is maintained.”
Why do pores become enlarged?
For starters, pores are a natural part of the skin. They mark the openings of sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum, an oily substance which protects the skin and prevents it from becoming dry and brittle.
In warmer climates, sebaceous glands become overactive. As such, pores expand to accommodate the increased amount of sebum released by the glands. This is why open pores are usually found in oily parts of the face, like the T-zone, says Dr Alvin Wong, managing partner at SkinLab Medical Spa.
Larger pore size is also often associated with thicker skin, which tends to be hereditary. However, Dr Chan says the condition can also arise from lifestyle choices such as excessive sun exposure. “The sun causes the epidermis to thicken, so a rim of cells collects around the pores. Eventually, these rings exaggerate pore diameter.”
Open pores also indicate poor skin grooming or lax exfoliation (ideally, exfoliate twice a week). As surface oil and dead skin cells accumulate around the edges, pores appear bigger than they actually are, adds Dr Chan. The condition is compounded by blackheads, which result when dead skin cells, oil and bacteria choke pores, expanding and making them more visible.
Maintaining your skin
While clinical treatments yield quicker results, both doctors say skincare products play an important role in regular maintenance.
It is essential to pick the right product for your skin type. Marjorie Lee, training manager at Estee Lauder, says: “It’s all about through cleansing. When pores are clogged, they appear larger and skin looks less refined. For instance, those with oily skin should look for products with salicylic acid because it helps unclog pores and removes embedded impurities and trapped oil.
Picking good skincare products to minimize the appearance of enlarged pores means reading the ingredient label or asking questions. Dr Chan suggests looking out for these ingredients in over-the-counter products:
* Azelaic Acid – Helps skin fight against bacteria.
* Retinol – Improves skin texture and reduces pore visibility.
* Aha or Alpha Hydroxy Acid – Boosts skin exfoliation to allow for deeper penetration of other skin treatments.
* Beta Hydroxy Acid – (another term for salicylic acid). Derived from willow bark, wintergreen leaves and sweet birch bark to remove cellular debris and clean put pores.