Our ancestry certainly gives us a lot to celebrate – thick, lustrous locks, almond-shaped eyes, honeyed skin, we all know what we have – but ask an Indian woman to name one problem she faces as far as her beauty routine goes, and more likely than not, you’ll find large, open pores to be at the top of the list. While genetics does dictate the size of your pores, (we will give it to you straight – you cannot get rid of them), what is in your control is how to temporarily shrink them and reduce their appearance to give the illusion of a radiant visage. We ask experts – both dermatologists and makeup gurus – to weigh in on just how to do this.
Pores are the opening of oil glands on the surface of the skin. A person who has oil glands, will have more pores. Shahnaz Husain, founder, chairperson and managing director, Shahnaz Husain Group, explains, “In India, the most common skin type is combination skin, which has both oily and dry areas.
Open pores occur on oily skin and on oily areas of combination skin, due to the over-activity of the sebaceous (or oil-producing) glands of the skin. The constant oozing of oil, as well as the clogging of the pores with hardened oil, lead to loss of elasticity over time. This causes them to remain open. Stress can also exacerbate oil gland secretions. Further, the hot and humid environment attracts pollutants and impurities.”
Skin care: (clockwise from extreme left) Deep pore cleansing mask; midnight recovery concentrate; rare earth mask; nightly refining micro peel concentrate; tea tree pore minimiser; and Elton J Fernandez
What can worsen the situation are untreated blackheads and whiteheads that leave behind open pores, pricking of acne lesions and increase in photodamage to the skin, which can affect elasticity and increase the chances of open pores. Since pores don’t have doors to open or close, it’s not possible to eliminate them as they are required for expulsion of oil and waste products from the skin.
The solution? “The best way to deal with open pores is to prevent them. Open pores are outlets for the oil glands in our body; the oilier the skin more the pores. It’s essential to decrease oil production to control open pores. Skin ageing starts at 25 years.
It is best to start procedures at this age at least once in 12 weeks to prevent open pores and once in six weeks if you already have open pores so that they can be controlled,” recommends Dr. Chytra V Anand, founder, Kosmoderma Skin & Hair Clinics. But you can reduce the problem at any age. Dr Batul Patel, medical director and dermatologist, The Bombay Skin Clinic, lists out your treatment options, “It depends on the cause of open pores. If the open pores are because of just patulous opening of the skin then they can be treated with Microneedling Radiofrequency technology, which tends to stimulate collagen and shrink the open pores.
Dermapen is another revolutionary technique for open pores. However, both these treatments require multiple sessions to show improvement. Open pores from loose skin and because of ageing can be treated by tightening the skin with heat-based technology, which stimulate collagen or hyaluronic acid injections that help to lift the skin and reduce the appearance of pores.”
Skincare begins at home
As far as home care goes, the two most important things you can do, according to Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi MD, director, consultant dermatologist and specialist hair transplant surgeon, MedLinks, are deep cleansing and exfoliation. Cleansers containing salicylic acid or mandelic acid-based cleansers are particularly effective due to their oil-reducing properties on sebaceous glands. “Exfoliation also plays a vital role in reducing open pores by removing dead cells and de-clogging them,” he suggests. Avoid daily exfoliation or rubbing the skin harshly while scrubbing as that can lead to skin damage, and ensure that you remove your make-up before sleeping. “Using a mild alpha hydroxyl peel solution at night also helps to reduce the clogging of pores and make them look less visible in the morning. Don’t steam your face often as it can lead to more irritation and sensitivity of skin,” advises Dr. Madhuri Agarwal, founder and medical director, Yavana Aesthetics Clinic.
Dr. Jothi Lakshmi, Ayurveda doctor, Shankara, lists home remedies that help; “Wash your face with a paste made from red rice powder and milk. This combination clears away dead cells and brightens and smoothens the skin. Turmeric has antioxidant properties that help clear acne and free up the pores. Aloe vera is rich in vitamin C, E and beta carotene that bestows your skin with anti-ageing properties. Clean your skin with a paste made from these two ingredients to reduce pores. You can also make a scrub by adding some salt to coconut oil and see the skin lose the dead cells that pile up near the pores. Another combination that helps open up pores is oats and milk applied as a scrubbing agent.”
Dr. Niranjana Raj, dermatologist, dermatosurgeon and joint managing director, YCDC Bangalore and Trivandrum, recommends using retinol or Vitamin A1. “Retinoids clear clogged oil and dead skin cells to make pores appear smaller. Use a retinol-based cream every night before sleeping for three months to see faster results,” she says. Wearing sunscreen regularly helps. “It makes pores look smaller and also prevents further dilation,” believes Dr. Chiranjiv Chhabra, director and consultant dermatologist, Skin Alive.
Make-up can make a difference too. Stafford Braganza, national make-up artist, NYX Professional Makeup, reveals a handy trick, “Apply ice or cold water to your face for about 15 seconds after cleansing to help tighten pores and protect them from future oil clogging ;or use an iced cloth as a mask and let it sit for a few minutes and watch the pores go away.” Elton J Fernandez, official make-up artist, Maybelline New York, finds that the best way to conceal open pores is to use pore minimising creams, which he mixes with a foundation and smooths over the skin.”
The kind of foundation you pick is important too. Natasha Dhody, make-up artist and director, Natasha Dhody Make-up Academy, prefers a liquid foundation that is neither runny nor thick and heavy. “You want the foundation to settle into the pores. If it is too liquidy in consistency, it won’t do the needful. If it is thick, it will not get inside the pores and will settle on top of them accentuating them more. Also, carry a powder puff with translucent powder to blot away excess oil during the day,” she says. Anupma Katyal, national Creative Director, Lakmé Salon, recommends using a blender sponge instead of a brush to blend your base. “Your base needs to sit on the skin and a brush can leave streak marks and make the open pores look bigger. Dabbing the base with a sponge will ensure full coverage,” she emphasises.