How to Unclog, Shrink, and Banish Pores for Good

While I'm committed to tackling the problem at every stage, I want to proceed with caution so as not to exacerbate it like I've done in the past. Pores can be so sensitive. To make sure I'm doing *all* the right things, I looked to two experts, celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau and dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D., at Schweiger Dermatology Group, to break down exactly how I can get rid of these pore problems once and for all. 

To Unclog

Exfoliate. "To get blackheads and clogged pores clean, you must get extractions from an experienced esthetician on a regular basis, ideally monthly. Without a doubt, nothing will clean them out more effectively than manual extractions—not even a facial cleansing brush." —Renée Rouleau 

Do mechanical exfoliation at home. "There are steps you can take at home to gently resurface your skin and prevent dead cells from clogging your pores. Gentle (key word!) brushes will remove build up of dead skin cells and can be done on a daily basis—look for a soft mechanical brush or a gentle over-the-counter skin scrub and make sure your skin is prepped by washing it with warm water and a mild cleanser beforehand. Scrubbing too hard will only irritate and inflame the skin, causing it to look red and puffy. Go slow, and play nice with your pores." —Rachel Nazarian, M.D.

Use salicyclic acid. "It's the best ingredient for penetrating into the pore lining and helping to keep them clean. It's a keratolytic beta hydroxy acid (BHA) famous for its ability to smooth the skin without causing irritation, reduce acne-causing bacteria, and oil to prevent blemishes, all while penetrating the pores to help clear out impurities." —RR

Soothe with steam. "The heat that the steam produces will raise the temperature of the skin, therefore softening the hardened oil in the pore for easier extraction and deep pore cleansing." —RR


To Shrink

Get chemical peels. "Chemical peels help to make the surface of the skin look smooth, which minimizes the appearance of pores—but it also cleans them out and allows them to actually shrink by helping to lift off the dead skin cells which can accumulate and clog them up." —RN

Use retinol. "Retinols are Vitamin A based topicals used for their anti-aging and anti-wrinkle properties. In the same way they work for wrinkles, they can plump up skin by increasing collagen production and minimizing the pores. They also decrease oil gland production and size, which can help pores appear smaller. Also, since black-heads can exacerbate the size of the pores, topical retinoids for acne can help clean them out to even out the skin texture and allow the pores to close up and clean out." —RN

To Banish

Use sunscreen. "Sun is a complete pore-size inducer! In every way that collagen helps to support smaller pores, and gives plumpness to your skin, the sun breaks it down and can make pores larger and in some ways "baggier" by decreasing elasticity. Protect your pores (and the rest of your skin) with daily sunscreen—a sun-damaged pore is an enlarged, inelastic one." —RN

Try a laser treatment. "Lasers are a fantastic way to address pore problems. Fraxel and Laser Genesis are my two favorite non-ablative lasers for this. Fraxel smoothes out the top layer of the skin like a gentle-sandblaster while stimulating an increase in collagen to plump up from inside. Laser Genesis is a much milder way to do the same thing, working to smooth out the skin and to stimulate the fibroblast in deeper layers to plump up. Because Laser Genesis is so much milder, it would require several more treatments. This is one real way to actually change the size of pores." —RN


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