Hands up who has enlarged pores on their face they'd love to zap into oblivion. We do. If, like us, you try day in day out to minimise the appearance of pores, you'll want to read our interview with Celebrity Facialist Sarah Chapman, founder of Sarah Chapman Skinesis. Sarah has all the answers to those burning skin care questions: Why do we get enlarged pores in the first place? Is it ever ok to squeeze them? How can we reduce them and is it possible to get rid of enlarged pores forever? She also reveals whether diet makes a difference to pores and recommends some fab pore-busting products. Here's Sarah's expert advice…
What causes enlarged pores?
Sarah says: "A build-up of oil or dirt in the skin can contribute to making pores appear enlarged as they become blocked and the skin around the pore dilates. People with naturally more oily skin are likely to have bigger pores because their oil glands are more active, meaning they need a bigger pore to release oil from within the skin. In these cases, a thorough cleansing routine can have a big impact on the appearance of the pores, helping to reduce blockages and breakouts.
"Age can also have an impact on pore size as collagen begins to break down in the skin, creating a lack of elasticity and tautness which causes the pores to dilate."
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Should you ever deal with blackheads/whiteheads yourself or is it best to visit a professional?
"It is of course not advisable to pop your spots for risk of scarring, but since I know that people do, my advice is to do it safely. The main reason for recommending a professional extraction is that it is hygienic, but there are ways you can mimic this process at home.
"First wash your hands. Then begin by using a facial steamer to open the pores and prepare the skin – or have a bath or shower. Apply a balm cleanser like my Ultimate Cleanse to the whole face, using massage techniques to work it deeper into the skin, and then circle the blemish with the pads of your fingers to soften the blockage further.
"Apply a warm flannel to the affected area and start to apply gentle pressure with a wiggle to either side of the blemish, stopping immediately if you see any blood. It is important to always use your fingers and to avoid using your nails, as this can cause trauma to the skin."
Can you ever get rid of them or just reduce them?
"Since enlarged pores are largely determined by genetics we can never physically reduce the pore size, but we can of course work to effectively minimise their appearance by keeping them clear and free from a build-up of dirt and dead skin cells. Treatments such as peels, deep microneedling and some lasers can have a visible effect on pores."
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What ingredients should people look for when buying skincare to help enlarged pores?
"Face-friendly acids, such as phytic acid, lactic acid and glycolic acid, have a resurfacing effect on the skin, digesting dead cells and stimulating cell renewal for a smoother skin appearance. Glycolic acid can be very effective but might be too harsh on some people’s skin, whereas lactic acid is ideal for people suffering with sensitivity.
"P Refinyl is another pore-blasting active ingredient that works specifically to minimise the pores, leaving them looking smaller and tighter. These actives have the same effect on the skin as a physical exfoliant but avoid the need for harsh and scratchy ingredients like micro-beads."
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Should people use Salicylic Acid?
"Salicylic acid is a miracle ingredient for blackheads and can be an effective tool in minimising the appearance of pores, reducing breakouts and cleansing the skin. It is categorised as a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), which means it is oil soluble and can penetrate deeper into the skin to exfoliate, unclog and tighten the pores. It can also help to reduce sebum secretion - the skin’s natural oil – to keep the skin balanced and prevent pores from enlarging beyond your genetic predisposition.
"However, it should be used with caution. The main negative effect of salicylic acid is that it has the ability to irritate and dry the skin, which means it should not be over-used and the skin should be neutralised afterwards with an intense hydrator. It can also interfere with specific medication such as blood-thinners and is not recommended in high doses if you are pregnant."
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Can diet help reduce the size of your pores?
"Your diet affects all aspects of your health and your pores are no exception. Following an anti-inflammatory diet can regulate excess oil to prevent breakouts and clogging. This involves controlling your blood sugar levels by avoiding sugary and starchy foods and focusing instead on omega-rich fish and foods full of vitamin B2, such as spinach, almonds and eggs."
Sarah Chapman Skinesis Overnight Exfoliating Booster, £64, Space NK
What products would you recommend for enlarged pores?
"My Liquid Facial Resurfacer is expertly calibrated with phytic and lactic acids to gently exfoliate, unclog and refine the pores, without using micro-beads and other irritants that can tear the skin’s delicate surface. It also targets signs of ageing, sun damage and blemishes to reveal smoother, radiant and more-even toned skin.
"My Overnight Exfoliating Booster works in synergy with the skin’s own night-time cell-renewal process to eliminate dead skin cells. It is formulated with lactic acid and a number of high-performance, non-abrasive actives that reduce clogging and minimise stretched pores. And finally, my pimple-purging SOS Stickers are infused with salicylic acid and P-Refinyl to help fight flare-ups. Simply place one of the invisible patches over the spot to soothe, decongest, accelerate blemish healing and prevent picking!"
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