Woman with mirror

Pore schoolin'

It's hard to imagine that something so tiny can be the cause of all your skin care woes. Pores can get clogged, produce too much oil and sebum, accumulate dirt (which causes blackheads) and become infected, causing annoying and painful whiteheads. Yet pores are an essential part of the human epidermis. Here's what you need to know to clean your pores and have healthy, glowing skin.

Pores do not "open" or "close"

This is a major skin care myth that can lead to permanently damaging results. Many think that using hot water to "steam" impurities out and then using excessively cold water to "close the pores" will help get rid of excessive sebum, dirt and oil. Well, some light steaming ("light" being the operative word here) can be beneficial, but blasting sensitive skin with extreme temperatures can often make things worse by breaking capillaries, which leads to serious scarring.

How to get impurities out (without squeezing)

Squeezing clogged pores and acne spots causes major scarring, so step away from the mirror and put your hands down! To get rid of gunk in your pores, you're far better off using a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid, a clay mask to draw out impurities or a deep-cleansing brush like the Clarisonic Deep Pore Brush Head. Better yet, use a combination of all three. If you do, be sure to pay attention to what your skin is telling you. If your skin feels dry, tight and uncomfortable, discontinue pore-cleansing acids, masks and brushes until you discover which one works best for you.

Pore size is mostly genetic

If you have large pores, it's mostly due to genetics, but there are methods that will help reduce the look of large pores. Chemical peels with glycolic, mandelic or lactic acid can be done at home (carefully) and can help reduce the look of large pores. Retinols and prescription Retin-A can also make pores appear smaller. If all else fails, apply a good makeup primer before your foundation. It will help your makeup stay in place and make pores appear smaller, if only while you're wearing makeup.

Stop squeezing!

Every time you touch your face, you're risking infection. Wash your hands often and constantly tell yourself to keep your hands off. Squeezing and touching pores can help bacteria get into the skin, causing acne and other skin problems. Only touch your facial skin when you're cleansing, and be sure to wash your hands before that! This advice might seem harsh, but it will pay off in the long run. Plus, your skin will feel cleaner all day!

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