Demystifying Large Pores in Adult Acne Skin

As an Adult Acne Specialist, I get asked all the time how
to get rid of large pores – slash – make them smaller – slash – make them disappear,

The answer is pretty
disappointing (no, they cannot be shrunk), but also kind of fascinating.  

There is, however, a way to prevent them from looking bigger than they
already are.

that your skin is
genetically oily.
Right at puberty, as your testosterone rises to
start your journey to adulthood, so does your skin’s oil production.
  As described in a
previous post, testosterone
is responsible for oil production in your skin.
Now, since before puberty there is so much less oil being produced, your
baby pores have no reason to be anything but invisible.
However, as soon as the rising testosterone
comes and tells your oil glands to start pumping out more oil, more room needs
to be made.  So, the funnel-like mouth of
each pore, also known as the Ostium (the very opening of the pore) and
Infundibulum (the funnel that is the top part of the pore going down inside),
expands to accommodate this new, larger oil flow as directed by an enzyme
called “5-alpha reductase”.  This
continues for a time after puberty, depending on how oily your DNA tells your
skin to be.
Graphic of hair follicle showing the oil gland and how blackheads form

Here’s the kicker; the size that your pores end up at
by this time is, sadly, permanent.

Let’s not give up that easily!  We can diminish the appearance of large pores
by smoothing out the surface of the skin and unclogging stuffed up pores.
Picture the top of a volcano jutting out from the
surface of the earth.  Now, let’s pretend
that instead of the opening of the volcano going downward into the earth with a
large cavern of lava coming out through a smaller and smaller space like a
pyramid, the lava comes out of the volcano through a space that’s the same size
from top to bottom. 
How the appearance of large pores in adult acne are diminished by exfoliation
Now, the top of the volcano jutting out from the
surface with its mouth gaping looks pretty enormous as compared to just the
hole the lava comes out of without the top being there at all, right?  It’s the same with dead skin cell buildup
around a pore.  Ok, well, let’s not kid
ourselves, it’s not like the hole itself is small.  We are talking about large pores after all.  But – not enormous.
So, what happens if we slice off the top of the
volcano, the part that juts out from the surface?  Looks smaller doesn’t it?
Dead skin cell buildup on skin that surrounds each
pore opening makes pores appear larger just like the top of that volcano.
  We smooth out the surface of the skin by
removing this dead skin cell buildup.
Now, you might think scrubs will do the trick nicely, and sometimes they
do – for most of us, though, they don’t really cut it at all.
  We need to go deeper.
I find that the best method of dead skin cell removal is with acids and/or enzymes.  Even
when the skin is not being horribly scratched by a scrub, manual exfoliation
only removes a single layer of dead skin cells, and nothing is removed from
inside the pore where exfoliation is needed the most for acne clearing.
  Enzymes break apart the proteins that are
what dead skin cells are made of, while Alpha Hydroxy Acids (
AHAs) make them
all fall off.
   Enzymes have to be in the
right pH environment (acidic) and in right amounts, while acids have to also be
the right pH in the right percentages.
Exfoliation and hydration minimize large pores
Irritation must be avoided in all of this, so it’s
crucial that exfoliating products be formulated right and made well.
 I have never seen a national brand AHA product
whose ingredient list either didn’t make it obvious that prevention of
irritation over time wasn’t a priority, or that real efficacy was.
  Nor have I seen a national brand enzyme product or scrub
that didn’t contain harsh detergents or pore cloggers.
  Professional recommendation is really a
better idea here, particularly since Adult Acne cases vary so much from person
to person, unlike
teen acne, which only has levels of severity and no
So is that it? Do we make large pores look smaller just
by smoothing out the skin?  Exfoliation
is great, but dead skin cell buildup around pores is not the only thing that
will make them look larger.  Pores can
get engorged with blackhead material, too.
If not for the fact that pores are flexible, the
dead skin cell and oil mix that make up blackheads would just keep building up
and blackheads would jut out like little Stonehenges all over your face.  Remember, there is no mechanism that allows
pores to open or shut, whether with steam or with cold water, but
they can get pulled tight by dehydration, and stretched out by being stuffed.
Exfoliation - Hydration - Oil Control; The Anti Large Pore Trifecta!
Enzymes and acids help exfoliate in a way scrubs
never can, by dislodging dead cells from inside pores as well as outside,
because your pores are lined with the same cells as the surface of your
  However, without oil for these dead
skin cells to mix with, blackheads actually don’t form in the first place!
  In addition, keeping the skin nice and
hydrated (not just by drinking water!) is what keeps pores pliable enough to allow
both oil and dead skin cells to flow more freely from inside pores out to be
washed away morning and night.
So what does a skincare routine for this look like?
A cleanser that rinses well without stripping (which can
be different for every person, so testing a cleanser out is actually really
Several sprays of a hydrating, soothing toner, leaving the
skin wet while applying a treatment
serum (professional recommendation);
An AHA gel or serum applied once or twice a day (with professional
recommendation) after serum and before
AM or PM lotion;
Both AM and PM lotions must contain hydrating ingredients that
attract and bind water to the skin.
Oily skin needs hydration to let pores flow


If a daily AHA is too much, a Salicylic Acid and Enzyme Mask is perfect for exfoliation, hydration and acne clearing all at the same
  I do have clients who use their
AHA gel daily who also benefit from this kind of mask once or twice a
  The one I have happens to be an
amazing overnight spot treatment for new blemishes, too.
Another option is an innovative (if I may say so myself 🙂) and versatile scrub and clay
powder mix that can be used as a scrub, or enzyme & clay mask, or both,
depending on what you add to it at home.
It’s called Papaya-Pumice Clay-Scrub Kitand includes a little cup,
scoop, spatula, fan mask brush and full instructions. The photo below shows my brand new packaging.
Daniela's Papaya-Pumice Clay-Scrub Kit
After exfoliation to clear away excess dead cells, depending
on your oil level and/or severity of inflammation in your particular acne case,
either a
gel mask containing Salycilic Acid and other
anti-inflammatories or a
clay mask is an absolute must-have.  Every client who starts my Eval by Email® program to get their Adult Acne under control
with just a basic daily routine does start to make great headway in getting
clear, but don’t really start getting dramatic results without these masks!
  Even a spot treatment product or OTC meds aren’t as important as doing a weekly facial at home with these masks, in my opinion.
Exfoliating before mask makes it work better!

I hope I have de-mystified the large pore mystery and have armed you
with enough info to tackle this problem.

Just please remember, large pores are that way because of genetics and
will always be that size. 

But, at the very least, you can prevent them from looking worse
by following the above guidelines.

Clearing Adult Acne takes diligence, patience, and above all, the right products!

you have any questions at all, you may ask in the comment section below, or
please feel free to contact me through my

Your acne problem has a source, and clearing your skin requires finding that source and either eliminating it or healing it.  You can start that right now by filling out my Eval by Email® Online Skincare Consultation Form created specially for ages Gen-X to Baby Boom!

Eval by Email, Virtual Skincare Coaching specially designed for acne sufferers ages 24 and up.

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