Hello Everyone, so I have chosen a life-threatening (yes, it is!) issue for my first post. This will be long, but Rati has assured me that I shall not be sent stinkers for talking too much about a problem that plagues nearly everyone. 😛
So-o-o-o-o, you know those annoying days when you decide to wear those low-rise jeans even though you cannot find any of your belts? According to Sod’s Law, that day, you will need to lean over and a millionth of a millimetre of your crack will show. A millionth of a millimetre? Holy cow! Everyone can see that. Everyone, including the men in space stations and your neighbourhood aunty sitting in her satsang gossip session. Just as visible as your pores, right? Wrong.
Enlarged pores are not like that. Honestly, on a horrific-things-that-can-be-seen-list, they would fall a little higher than blackheads and way lower than Dolly Bindra and yet, they can be irritating, so irritating that every airbrushed porcelain face that you see on television enrages you. Even if they don’t resemble moon craters and are so tiny that you have to press your face close to the mirror to see them, they’re still there.
The bad news first: you cannot totally wipe your pores out. The good news: you can; however, shrink the little buggers to the size of tiny little non-beings who don’t give you sleepless nights.
As you can’t really tackle something without knowing what it is, let’s see what pores are. These horrors are nothing but the little ports where hair grows and where the sebum is released onto the skin. Everyone including the gorgeous women with endless legs on magazine covers, has pores. It’s just that not everyone’s are visible.
Pores get enlarged for many reasons. One reason could be genetics. Another very common one is oily skin which can also appear to be “thickened”. Hygiene issues can also cause this. If oils or dead skin cells which are usually shed, accumulate around a particular area, the pores will have the appearance of being enlarged. Sun damage is also a major factor. It causes loss of collagen and elastin in the skin leading to the shrinking of underlying tissues thus pulling down the edges of the pore. That gives them an enlarged appearance.
How to Kill?
…. these damage-inducing factors. There is a keyword here. It’s that annoying little thing that keeps popping up in every skincare column that you read and that seems fairly easy: healthy lifestyle.
• No (excessive) alcohol 😛 and absolutely no tobacco or drugs, kids.
• Take your multivitamins, pop in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium or whatsoever your dermatologist recommends.
• Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits that are rich in fibre. Many experts say that fibre can help control oil production in glands and every skincare-obsessed girl worth her salt knows what THAT means for her skin.
• Exercise. Yes, I said that dirty word. Do it. Everyday. Just for 20 minutes at least. It will not only balance the oil production and flush out the toxins, but will also lower your stress levels and it gives a healthy glow! Bliss.
• Drink 10-12 glasses of water. No compromise on that one.
• Oh! and wear sunblock.
Now that we have learnt how to avoid further large pores, let’s move on to how to go all Killer Ninja on the existing ones.
1. This is very basic but if you rolls your eyes, a mutant spider will come and destroy you.
Cleanse your face, twice a day. I don’t care how tired you are and how many towns you saved or how many towers you built or how many giant monsters you slew, remove that godforsaken make-up and wash your face with a mild cleanser.
2. Scrubbing: Nothing removes the skin-clogging dead cells better than a dose of healthy home-made scrubs once or twice a week. Not too moisturising, you want to kill the enemy, not feed it.
Here are certain helpful scrub mixes:
- Salt and buttermilk scrub: Buttermilk intensifies skin’s flexibility and salt serves as a mild scrub. Mix 1 tablespoon buttermilk and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and use it to exfoliate and remove excess dirt and oil.
- Almond meal scrub: Powder some almonds and mix them with water, unboiled milk or honey. Apply on your face and scrub off after 15 minutes.
- Honey Scrub: Mix 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and a little lemon juice. Honey is naturally anti-bacterial and lemon helps in in reducing the oiliness.
3. Masks: Yes, go all Halloween kind of secretive on the pores and wear masks.
The really scary ones will spook the little tormentors away. Some of them will simply pull out all the junk, which the large pores feed on and make your face even prettier than usual. Here are a few masks to start with:
-Egg whites and lemons: Avoid the yolk and separate the white portion. Mix it with a little lemon juice. As the egg white dries, it tightens the skin and pulls out the gunk while lemon keeps oil at bay.
-Cucumber mask: Blend half a cucumber. Mix it with lemon juice and rose water and apply. Cucumber is a magical thing in face masks. It’s not too drying for dry skins and not too moisturising for the oily ones. It will tone and refresh the skin nd give a tightening look to the pores. It’s just right.
-Messy-Gooey-Effective Mask: A very effective but rather time-consuming mask I tried was by combining one egg, 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil and 2 tablespoons of honey and freezing the mix overnight in an ice-cube tray. Next morning, rub one such cube on face until it’s a gooey mess and leave it on for 15 minutes.
-Brewer’s Yeast: A mask of brewer’s yeast and lemon juice is probably the HG remedy for pore tightening. Lemon has citric acid which avoids accumulation of dead cells while fighting excess oil. Brewer’s yeast contains B vitamins (except B12) and chromium. When these two combine, they create a pore purging mask. There’s only tiny problem – I don’t know where exactly one can find brewer’s yeast in India. I’ve heard that pet stores keep it for dogs but I don’t know if it’s exactly the same yeast. I got it from a friend who owns a micro-brewery. Perhaps pharmaceutical firms sell it too and apparently, the regular pharmacists keep it in a tablet form. Anyhow, here’s what you do – take 1 tablespoon of brewer’s yeast and mix in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Apply the paste on the face for 20 minutes. Wash off and behold one of the many magical functions of brewer’s yeast!
-Two very commonly recommended swords in the enlarged pore fight are tomatoes and papayas. Be creative. Mash them, mix them with calamine, lemon, yoghurt, honey, or just slap them neat on your face. They are your best friends. Treat them well and they will make you love your skin.
4. Steaming: Personally, I don’t like the whole put-face-over-basin kind of steaming idea. I am always terrified that somebody will go “Boo!” and I will fall headlong into it thereby burning my little face (I “boo” the living hell out of my family and they are bound to take revenge sooner or later). I prefer pouring magic anti-bacterial and pore-cleansing herbs like chamomile, neem, mint or lavender along with some lemon juice into hot water. Then, I dip a washcloth or cotton pads in it and steam my face using that, much less risky, really. (If you don’t have the herbs, their essential oils will work excellently well too).
5. Give the boot to harsh astringents and toners. You may get a temporary “tightening” effect with them, but they are the real villains in this story. They lull you into a false sense of security that they will pull out oil, but they do it with so much force that your oil-glands go bonkers producing even more sebum and causing larger pores. Try something mild like rose water or an alcohol-free toner with witch hazel instead.
6. Avoid using a thick moisturiser on the enlarged pores. Sure, do moisturise a little, but use a light concoction, like what those Clean and Clear people have come up with, oil-free lotion or something, or better still, just twitch that little purple wand and apply Lacto Calamine instead.
7. It’s a commonly recommended remedy to rub ice wrapped in cotton cloth over pores to get a porcelain look and to reduce oiliness. I tweak this a little and use green tea cubes instead. Same amount of effort but much more beneficial since the tannins in green tea not only tighten pores but also draw irritants from the skin. The acne troubled could also add a little baking soda to the green tea liquid before freezing it for added benefits.
8. Each time you apply a scrub or a mask for pore minimising, remove it with warm water. Then, use equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and cold water as a final rinse and let it air-dry. ACV acts as a natural astringent and gives a tighter appearance to the skin.
9. Finally, as a saviour of our souls, make up is always there to correct what nature cannot. 😉 Just a few things to keep in mind, heavy foundations tend to draw attention to pores. So, stick to light and sheer ones. Apply primer, foundation, concealer, powder, blusher and whatever else you generally do in a downward motion. Otherwise, you’ll accentuate the pores by pushing the colour up into them.
I’ve tested and gained from many of the tips here and have successfully reduced the relics of the notorious Great Acne Outbreak of January 2011. Most of them are bound to work on all skin types, including sensitive ones, just avoid too much lemon and when they do, you can send a cheque worth $1 million to Ms. Jabberwocky. If you don’t have that much money, your eternal love and some chocolate will do. 😛
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