Bright and beautiful skin can be achieved by maintaining clean, healthy pores. There are many myths about skin care and it may be helpful to understand why the skin has pores before addressing the statement “open pores are actually better.” There are two types of skin pores: oil pores and sweat pores. Oil pores are where the hair follicle exits the skin and where the oil, produced by the sebaceous glands, exit the skin and release the body’s natural protective moisture (oil) to keep the skin moisturized and healthy. The sebaceous glands are all over the body, except for the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, keeping the skin hydrated and waterproof. Sebum is a complex mixture of lipids, squalene, esters of glycerol, wax, and cholesterol, and contributes to moisture balance. Sweat pores are also all over the skin but cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Sebaceous glands and sebum production play a central role in the development of acne. The sebaceous glands are hormonally regulated by androgens (testosterone). Hormones are one of the major causes of acne, especially during puberty, because hormones become more active and produce more sebum. The overproduction of sebum in the follicle causes whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and pustules.
When the pore becomes clogged with excess sebum, along with dead skin cells, the pore expands to accommodate trapped debris. There is no way to physically reduce the size of pores, but a skin care professional can visually reduce the appearance of large pores, as well as prevent pores from becoming clogged. There are treatments available that reduce and refine the appearance of pores. These treatments include in-clinic peels, laser treatments, and professional homecare products. Exfoliating treatments remove excess debris in the follicle, but the key is to incorporate hydration to balance the skin. When a treatment or product decreases the amount of sebum (lipids) on the skin, an alert is triggered and the sebaceous glands begin to produce more sebum because the skin’s natural protective oil has been reduced. Hydration that mimics the skin’s protective oil without clogging pores is best to balance the skin’s hydration level. Sunscreen (at least SPF 30) is also recommended because photodamage and loss of collagen also contribute to larger pore size.
It is important to control how much oil is being produced and absorbed. Sebum production is associated with dry skin and is necessary to retain hydration in the skin. Sebum production starts to decrease by the age of 20 and continues to slow with age. Dry skin can be treated with in- clinical hydrating treatments, along with effective consistent homecare.
Skin needs to be exfoliated, especially when there is an abundance of sebum in the pores. Peels remove debris from the follicle and also refine pores. There are also ingredients and technology that refine pores.
Pores do not have muscle around their opening to open and close. Steam does not open pores, but it loosens debris, making extractions easier and less traumatizing to the skin. Balancing exfoliation and hydration is important to keep the sebaceous glands functioning normally, restoring skin to its natural beauty.