Leaning into the magnifying mirror you’re sure you can count more pores than skin. There’s Fred, Dave, Nigel, Chuck and Peter on one side and there’s Sandra, Sally, Molly and Deborah on the other side – high school disco sex divide eat your heart out.
Last night you leaned into the mirror and it looked like Sandra had paired off with Dave to make Sandrave. Like Fred had just been to an all you can eat buffet and like Deborah had borrowed her boyfriend’s over-sized hoody.
Today you’re looking and Sandrave have had children (!) Fred looks like he never left the all you eat buffet and Deborah’s trying to avoid excess baggage allowance by wearing ALL of her boyfriend’s oversized hoodies.
Dear friend, do not worry, it is very normal for the pores on your face to get bigger and it is 100% not a fact of life you have to live with. Sandrave can once again become Sandra and Dave.
Here’s what science says makes the pores on your face get bigger plus exactly what you can do to de-Sandrave.
Why Are the Pores on My Face Getting Bigger?
When pores suddenly become visible – like they’d previously been borrowing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, the internet will tell you – nah – fact of life – it happens – there’s not much you can do to stop it. In fact, if we’re being honest, there’s only things you can do to help minimize the appearance of your pores.
Psst! Not so well-known truth coming at you. Pore size can be made smaller.
Here’s the thing. Your pores are like shopping bags, when they contain a new LBD, red bottomed shoes and a skincare haul the size of your entire vanity – they’re big and visible. But, when your pores aka shopping bags are empty, they’re happily tucked away into your handbag, only to be seen again when TopShop next has a sale.
A 2013 published study says there are 2 main reasons why the pores on your face are suddenly getting bigger;
- Your skin’s making more oil aka sebum
- Your skin’s losing elasticity – like a shopping bag that’s seen an entire years worth of splurging well thought through investments
And if you’re a man or you have acne prone skin, your risk of pores becoming more visible is greater. Why? Because being in either of these groups means your skin’s making more oil… and more oily skin means the pores on your face are prone to getting bigger.
Why Are My Pores Becoming More Visible?
Your pores are cosy houses/shopping bags for a hair and an oil gland – also known as a sebum gland. Every pore you have is home to a sebum gland, they’re like a shopping bag inside of a shopping bag. Their purpose – to keep the hair they’re growing luscious and to keep your skin hydrated – because oil locks in water.
When your sebum glands are stimulated (we’ll talk more about what could be triggering yours soon) to make more sebum, they get bigger/they pump out more sebum into your pore.
Hyperactive sebaceous glands generate larger amounts of sebum which expands the pilary canal and dilates pore diameter to accommodate greater internal pressure.Patent filed by Nicholas Perricone of Perricone MD skincare
Basically, your pores/shopping bag is full, has been for quite some time and is expanding to make room for more oil/clothes.
If you suddenly see the pores getting bigger on, for example, your nose, it’s the sebum glands in the pores on your nose which have been working overdrive 24-hour shifts. With all this extra sebum to bag up, your pore will eventually begin to lose elasticity aka your pore size will stretch.
Ageing Skin & Large Pores
Which is also why it’s commonly believed pores get larger with age and there’s nothing you can do about it. As your skin becomes more experienced, it goes through lots of life events which means eventually the elasticity in your skin goes downhill.
Or with science words…
The ageing process causes deterioration of the dermal elements surrounding the follicle. These changes are manifested by internal collapse of supporting skin structure and expansion of the follicular canal, resulting in pore dilation and greater visibility on the skin surface.Patent filed by Nicholas Perricone of Perricone MD skincare
Aka your skin’s collagen, elastin and other bits like superstar hydrators stop being able to do their jobs so well and the result – your pore size begins to show wear and tear i.e. the pores on your face get bigger.
And bonus fact…
The visual appearance of skin pores also partially depends upon the texture of surrounding surfaces. Rough skin scatters light in a manner which emphasizes openings on the skin surface, so pores appear larger.Nicholas Perricone of Perricone MD skincare
Which happens a lot in experienced skin as with time your skin’s natural exfoliation rate slows meaning skin texture is extremely likely to be rougher.
Great news: You do not have to accept ageing skin and large pores. You also do not have to accept oily skin and large pores or acne and large pores. Not with the right pore minimising skincare and the right changes to diet and lifestyle. My friend, diet especially can have a huge impact on oily skin and therefore pore size. If you’ve already enrolled to SkinCoach with me you’re about to start kicking it out the park in every one of these three. Go you.
Why Did My Pores Get Bigger All Of A Sudden?
The likelihood is one of these factors has been telling your sebum glands to work the night-shift;
- Eating a diet with lots of insulinotropic foods – if I think this is a key factor for you, I’ll be explaining more in your SkinCoach Me plan
- A deficiency of your sebum in linoleic oils i.e. it keeps making more, but it’s always not quite the right formula – psst – some of the oils from food you eat end up directly on your skin, Wowser eh
- Drying skincare
- Stress – i.e. hormones again
- Some medications
Or one of these factors has been notch by notch, wiggling away your skin’s elasticity;
- UV light exposure
- Blue light exposure
- Trapped dead skin cells
- Eating too much sugar
The best way to stop your pores getting any bigger is to stop doing or manage all of the above. For example, if your skin’s lost elasticity because it’s been loving UV light while unprotected, be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day. Or if your pores are getting bigger on your nose because you’re eating insulinotropic foods, cut these out of your diet and replace them with just as yummy non-insulinotropic foods.
Once you’ve gotten the cause of your large pores under control, now’s time to begin minimizing them. Aka winding the clock of your large pore size backwards.
What is the best way to make your pores smaller?
While lots of places tell you once your pores are bigger you can only ever minimize the appearance of them aka you can cover them up by using clever attention diverting skincare. Like making sure your pores are ‘clean’ so they look smaller.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 9 July 2018
Instead, here I’m telling you there is actual evidence to show using skincare with certain carefully selected active ingredients can help shrink your pore size. And there are 2 ways it works, I bet you can guess them already;
- The pores on your face can be shrunk by skincare which helps reduce your skin’s oil/sebum production
- Large pores can be shrunk by using skincare which helps increase the elasticity of your skin
Which brings me to 3 key active ingredients;
Niacinamide – it’s been found to help reduce sebum excretion rate and to help improve the elasticity of skin. Proctor & Gamble aka the manufacturers of Olay have this patent for covering the use of niacinamide for reducing pore size – psst – It’s also mentioned as being best when niacinamide is used with a retinoid.
Retinoids – a group of anti-ageing actives which are extremely well-known to cause dry skin – why? Because retinoids decrease the amount of oil your sebum glands make. One very potential reason why retinoids are also clinically proven to help treat acne. And guess what’s a risk factor for large pores? Acne. Full circle my friend.
Zinc PCA – it’s a kind of zinc that’s especially soluble to your skin. Studies show zinc has a sebosuppressive effect, which begins to be evident after 3 to 6 weeks. Zinc can also help stop the activity of your 5α‐reductase enzyme – these guys convert testosterone in your skin into a much more potent form of testosterone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
Meaning if your pore size is getting larger or has suddenly got larger due to hormones, zinc PCA could help.
Psst – very specific foods also help block your skin’s 5α‐reductase enzyme activity – amazing right. If you’re after 1-2-1 help to get your skincare and diet on the straight and narrow for reducing the size of your pores – I’m your gal.
There you have it dear friend, the answer to your question – why are the pores on my face getting bigger? Now’s time to take a look at your skincare – are you using niacinamide, retinoids or zinc PCA? Come tell me in the comments, I’m not scary – promise. And psst – use that green sharing button below to gift your most loved friends these must-know lessons on pore size.
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.