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A Guide to Open Pores

Komal Basith

Remember movies from the 1930s, when stars draped themselves in fur during the day, threw cocktails at their beaus only to fall into their arms a minute later and the only thing brighter than the jewels they wore was their preternaturally smooth, glowing skin? Head shots of celebrated beauties from the era always feature their faces ensconced in a hazy light that makes it look like they were lit from within. Fast forward to the turn of the century, when HD cameras laid waste to the idea that movie stars have perfect skin - perhaps comfortingly, we now know that celebrities fret over their open pores too. Stars, they’re just like us! But what do you do about them? The pores, not the celebrities. They’re never going away. 

Neither are your pores, and for good reason. They’re the skin’s waste management system, transporting excess sebum from the hair follicle to the surface. The problem arises when they become enlarged and visible, creating a pit-like appearance on the cheeks, nose, and forehead. Visible pores make it difficult for light to reflect evenly off the surface of the skin, making it look uneven and dull. Nobody wants them, yet everyone seems to deal with them at some point in their lives. They’re usually the result of a combination of three things - age, an overproduction of oil, and / or genetics. Here’s how to tell which one’s causing yours, and how to deal with it. For even more specific results tailored to your skin type and concerns, fill in your profile on The Finder. 



People with oily or combination skin tend to have over-active sebaceous glands in the areas around the face, neck, chest and back, which is often where acne shows up first. Sebum is a soft wax that should liquefy when it reaches the surface of the pore, spreading a thin, protective layer around the skin. When too much sebum is produced, the process can get backed up. The constant flow of oil combined with an impacted follicle, which often manifests as a whitehead or blackhead, leads to a loss of elasticity over time, causing visibly open pores. 




1. Cleanse - but not too much!

It’s especially important to keep your skin as clean and free of dirt and oil as possible when you have oily skin. Avoid being overzealous and stripping your face of its natural oils which can lead to your skin retaliating by producing more oil to compensate, causing a vicious cycle. Do this by using a gentle cleanser for oily skin no more than twice a day. Thalgo’s Cleansing Water 2-in-1 cleanses, tones and softens skin instantly. 

 2. Steam

It’s a myth that steaming your face will ‘open up’ your pores. What it will do however is loosen any underlying oil or debris from under the surface of your pores, making it easier to sweep away. 

3. Exfoliate - gently.

One of the biggest causes of visible pores, whether open or clogged, in oily or combination skin are dead skin cells that tend to remain on the surface of the skin. Sweep them away by adding exfoliation to your routine. Stay away from exfoliants with abrasive particles that can stimulate an overproduction of oil - stick instead to products which contain natural fruit enzymes or naturally-occurring clay, which gently rids skin of dead cells and tightens pores without upsetting its natural balance. Try Phytomer’s Purifying Gommage Exfoliant, which minimises pores and improves the skin’s texture with marine extracts and kaolin clay. 



Ever notice how children have clear, glowing skin with nary a pore in sight? That’s because their glands don’t produce sebum until they’re teenagers, which also why open pores make their first appearance then. If that’s what’s causing yours, refer to the guide to oily skin above to determine your course of action. Alternatively, even if you’ve never dealt with open pores before, you might start noticing them as you get older. This is because smoking, aging, loss of elasticity - the same factors that contribute to that other mainstay of aging skin, wrinkles - also contribue to pores that sag, becoming more visible as time goes by.



1. Use a mask or peel.

Try a gentle peel to retexturize your skin and treat the signs of aging in one fell swoop and look for masks with ingredients like glycolic or lactic acid, which reduce pore size and smooth out the skin’s texture. Try Phytomer’s Resurfacing Peeling Duo, or Dermalogica’s Gentle Cream Exfoliant, which celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge swears by for her skin.

2. Moisturise.

Start adding products that restore skin elasticity to your regime to minimise pores and prevent them from sagging - Babor’s Derma Cellular Collagen Booster Cream is so effective it’s been touted as an alternative to Botox. Also, retinol, the Vitamin A derivative, is your friend. Smaller pores, diminished wrinkles and clearer skin are just some of the benefits you can look forward to. Just make sure to slather on the sunscreen during use - or better still, use as a night treatment. Try Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Power Concentrate or the next time you’re travelling pick up French pharmacy favourite Avibon, Gwyneth Paltrow’s  retinol-packed anti aging cream of choice. 

3. Wear sunscreen.

Sun damage is by far the biggest culprit of visible aging and all its signs. Even if you’ve been lax with your sun protection in years past, it’s not too late to start. You won’t just be saving your pores from getting bigger, your skin from getting rougher or your wrinkles from appearing more pronounced, you’ll also be protecting yourself from the danger of melanoma. Don’t forget to use sunscreen even when you’re indoors - as long as the sun is out, it’s affecting your skin. Thalgo’s Oxygen 3 Defence Fluid provides broad spectrum SPF 15, protects from pollution and smells divine. 




An annoying cousin, a pesky overbite, a predilection for melodrama - you don’t always inherit what you want. If open pores are one of those things, the truth is there’s not much you can do to make them smaller permanently, but the good news is each of the solutions above will provide a fix, albeit temporarily. The key is to stick with it. Be fastidious with your regime and you will see results. 

As always, don’t forget to use The Finder to find products that work best for your specific needs, today. 


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