Forgive us the direct question so soon in proceedings, but really, how do you feel about your pores? Do you give them a tonne of love or do you barely give them a second thought?
Some of us have a bit of a struggle with the love for our pores. Enlarged pores, visible pores, blackheads and pores that get clogged easily leading to spots and acne breakouts can all cause us upset and frustration.
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So, is there anything we can do about them? What are pores? And why are they even a thing to get stressed about?
This week it’s all about pores; the science behind them, why we need them, why they can become enlarged or blocked and what we can do to keep them healthy. (And we’ll give you a little spoiler to make up for our direct question too - pores are perfectly normal, whatever their size and however visible they are. We all have them and it’s time they felt the love!)
What Are Pores?
Pores are the tiny holes we can see in our skin if we look closely enough. Our entire body is covered in skin, and therefore pores and it’s estimated (because I’m assuming no one has ever taken the time to count them) that an adult human has around 5 million of them.
Despite their small size, each pore is a complex structure, and there are two types - oil pores and sweat pores. Oil pores each have their own sebaceous gland - a tiny gland that produces sebum. Sebum is the oily, wax like substance that is naturally produced by the skin to protect it and keep it moisturised. All areas of the body have pores that produce oil, aside that is, from the soles of our feet and the palms of our hands.
Sweat pores, unsurprisingly, release sweat. This allows us to control our temperature by moving heat away from the body via evaporation of sweat.
Plus all pores also have the ability to grow a single hair. (These hairs may be visible such as on the scalp, eyebrow area or body, or they may be non visible, such as areas of the face, if we don’t have facial hair).
There’s an awful lot going on, in such a tiny space, 5 million times over. So let’s all hear it for our pores! They help to keep our skin protected, lubricated and supple, they help us cool down by sweating and they give us our hair (regardless of whether we want it in certain places, or not). Hurrah for pores!
Why Are Some Pores Larger Than Others?
But, alas, sometimes things can become complicated, and our pores do things that we’d rather they didn’t.
If we have naturally oily skin where too much sebum is produced, then our pores can become blocked with this excess oil. This traps dirt, makeup, bacteria and dead skin cells inside the pores, leading to blackheads, spots - and enlarged, visible pores.
But having oily skin isn’t the only reason our pores can become more visible. Here’s some of the other reasons this can happen:
- Our genetics - having one or both parents with oily, acne prone skin and enlarged pores can mean that we have a greater chance of also having them.
- Sun exposure - sun damaged skin can mean that the skin becomes inflamed and thickened, resulting in larger pores.
- Age - as we age, we lose levels of collagen, that keeps the skin youthful, firm and plump. As collagen levels decline, the skin begins to droop, causing a microscopic dragging effect on the pores, causing them to appear larger.
- Smoking - always a big no no, for so many reasons, smoking can also affect the skin by causing the blood vessels to narrow, meaning that oxygen and nutrient delivery to the skin is restricted. The natural aging process is accelerated, causing the same effect on the pores as losing collagen.
- Lifestyle - stress, a poor diet and dehydration will also inevitably have a visible effect on the health and appearance of the skin and the pores.
- Skincare - using products that aren’t non pore blocking or non comedogenic, will cause pore blockages especially if your skin is already prone to enlarged pores, spots and blackheads.
Why Do We Think Pores Should Be Invisible?!
We’ve spoken recently about social media and the impact it can have on how we feel about ourselves. We’re not social media bashing, it has a purpose, and a place in modern society. We use it ourselves, and it’s not necessarily an evil, bad thing.
But that said, it can still be an evil, bad place, if we allow ourselves to believe all that we see. And really, why wouldn’t we? It's an all consuming presence in our lives! But with the use of professionally applied makeup, the right lighting, filters and quite literally smoke and mirrors, what we see has most definitely been given a sprinkle of make believe.
For this reason, when we see images of ‘perfect’ skin, and then we look at our own and notice irritation, areas of pigmentation, spots, dryness, oiliness and enlarged pores, is it any wonder that we can feel inferior?
But if we went up to someone and scrutinised their skin (we don’t endorse this, by the way, not least because of social distancing regulations), then we’d more than likely recognise some of our own ‘imperfections’ in others.
That said, and social media aside, we might simply wish that our pores weren’t so enlarged or visible, and we can become obsessed by them. And that's ok, we’re only human!
However, given that there’s around 5 million pores on our entire body, and our faces are probably only around 10% or less of our skin mass, it’s a relatively small collection of pores that we can become focused on. But, arguably, it’s the most important 10 ish per cent. So what can we do about them?
Is it Realistic to Expect Pores to Shrink?
We’re born with our pre determined, genetically determined pore size, so technically, it isn't possible to permanently reduce the size of our skin pores. But don’t despair, it is possible to reduce the appearance of them.
Here’s our top tips on reducing the appearance of your pores and helping to prevent them from becoming blocked:
- Cleansing twice a day is essential for removing all the things that can block the pores including excess sebum, makeup, dirt, bacteria, dead skin cells and pollution. Even over night our skin can become oily and sweaty, so cleansing in the morning is just as important as before bed.
- Exfoliate once or twice a week for a deeper cleanse that helps to clear away dirt and debris from deep within the pores.
- Use a clay mask once or twice a week to help draw impurities from the pores. The Sönd Purifying Clay Face Mask is ideal!
- Always use non comedogenic skin care products.
Good Skincare - the Foundation of Healthy Skin
We hope we’ve helped to normalise having pores, even those that can become enlarged, visible and blocked. We all have them, and there are ways of keeping them well behaved.
The Sönd skincare range is completely non comedogenic and has been developed to care for the skin deep down in the lower layers, meaning that the skin stays healthy and hydrated, and less likely to stress out or become irritated.
Looking after your skin at a deeper level will help to ensure it stays in its healthiest state and that your pores will be more likely to conform. So if you haven’t already, give us a go. Your pores will love you for it!