8 Steps to Smaller Pores

Even patients with easy skin often come to me with one complaint -  large pores!

What causes large pores? With age and frequent stretching from being clogged with dead skin cells and oil, the pores start to sag. When they fill up with sebum (oil), the sebum oxidizes and turns dark which makes the pores more obvious.

I'll be honest with you, there are actually no ways to permanently shrink pores once they have stretched. There are, however, lots of things that you can do to minimize the appearance of your pores and to prevent them from getting large:

1. The first step is to use skin care products that increase levels of collagen and elastin which will prevent the pores from stretching. Look for ingredients such as Vitamin C, retinol that increase collagen production and products that increase elastin levels.

2. It is also important to keep skin clear of oil and dead skin cells, which will only stretch your pores and make them appear larger. Use products with alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid and phytic acid) and chestnut extract which will exfoliate your skin, thus improving its texture.

3. Salicylic acid is another good bet, particularly for oily or acne-prone types, as it's the best ingredient out there for targeting and clearing out oil in the pores. (When oil, or sebum, clogs pores, blackheads appear - making pores that much more prominent.) Salicylic acid can penetrate the fats in sebum much better than glycolic acid, which makes it an ideal treatment to improve the appearance of pores.

4. Decreasing sebum production is also a way to prevent clogged and stretched pores. One ingredient that is said to have the to ability to reduce sebum production is NDGA (Nordihydraguaiaretic Acid).

5. Prescription-strength retinoids and over-the-counter products with retinol will decrease oil production, increase collagen and elastin production, and hasten your skin's cell-turnover - giving dead skin cells even fewer opportunities to clog and stretch your pores, while strengthening pore walls.

6. Another trick to minimizing the appearance of your pores is to cause the skin around them to swell slightly; as it does, the pores will appear to contract. Apply topical vitamin C to your skin (you can find it in a variety of facial serums) or try a professional light procedure like IPL (Intense pulsed Light). IPL provides an immediate benefit and is worth every penny!

7. The final steps to smaller pores simply require good skin care habits. First and foremost: Wash makeup and sunscreen off every night.

8. And if you do develop pimples, avoid popping or picking at them. That will only stretch your pores further and can lead to scarring.

Wishing you great skin!

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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book, " The Skin Type Solution." To learn more about her revolutionary skin typing system, visit her Web site, SkinTypeSolutions.com

All of Dr. Baumann's recommended skin care products are available online, and a portion of proceeds goes to The Dermatology Foundation.
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