Here’s the thing: you can’t make your pores smaller. The size of your pores are determined at birth and you can’t shrink them any more than you can shrink your belly button
But you can make them look smaller.
First off, what exactly are pores? Don’t hate on them, because they’re actually crucial for your well-being. I’m not being dramatic – pores are openings in your skin where hair follicles grow out of. Your pores produce sebum, an oily mix of fats, proteins, cholesterol and inorganic salts that protects your skin from bacteria and dirt. Sebum is also perfectly formulated to moisturise your skin, preventing dryness and premature ageing. So think of pores not as nasty things to shrink, but as hard-working, life-giving wells that need care and maintenance.
Since pores are basically little holes in your skin, they’re are far more visible when they’re filled with oil and dirt which gives them the illusion of being larger. Without proper cleansing, they can also get clogged and infected, which leads to pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. And unlike popular advice, pores cannot be ‘opened’ or ‘closed’, but they can be stretched out of shape by harsh treatment.
When they’re nice and clean however, pores just look like… well, skin. This is why your skin looks refined and clear right after washing and toning your face, regardless of your pore size.
So how do you keep your pores clean and looking good?
1. Double cleanse
HADALABO MOISTURISING CLEANSING OIL, RM 57.90
Nothing can get rid of the day’s oil, sweat, sunscreen, and makeup like an oil cleanser. It may seem counter-intuitive to put more oil on your face, but remember basic chemistry: oil can dissolve what water can’t, and oil dissolves oil. So waterproof makeup, sunscreen and sebum rinses off like a dream. Follow it up with your regular cleanser.
2. Use a BHA
COSRX BHA BLACKHEAD POWER LIQUID, RM 74.90
These Beta Hydroxy Acids can dissolve oil and dead skin in pores to really clean them out. Look for a gentle, leave-on BHA to gently exfoliate and clean your skin. We wrote more about BHAs here: Why You Need Actives In A Skincare Routine
3. Use a clay mask
Clay masks absorb oil as they dry and tighten on your face, which can help with clearing out excess oil from your face and pores.
4. Try using them all together
Skincare blogger Fifty Shades of Snail advocates using the three above ingredients in tandem and in a specific order to really maximise their pore-cleaning benefits.
i. First, apply a BHA to loosen the gunk in your pores.
ii. After 30 minutes, apply a clay mask without washing off the BHA. The clay mask will help absorb the stuff loosened by the BHA. After the mask has dried, rinse it off with lukewarm water and dry your face.
iii. Now apply a cleansing oil, and leave it on for about 15 minutes. This oil dissolves any remaining gunk and lubricates your skin to get the last remnants out of your pores.
iv. Finally, gently massage your face with the oil for 2 -3 minutes. You may or may not feel some grittiness – that’s the stuff that was in your pores! If you don’t, your clogs were probably too small or non-existent.
v. Cleanse your face and carry on with the rest of your routine.
After this entire process, you should notice that your pores look cleaner and visibly smaller! Do this once or twice a week to keep them clean.