Friday, December 27, 2013

Guest Blogger: Dermatoligist on Pores

"Open Pores" – What They Are and How to Treat and Prevent Them

"Open pores" are not a medical condition but the term is heard often enough in medical cosmetic practice that it may as well be.
Despite its prevalence as a complaint, open pores (or "the appearance of pores" as the cosmetics industry carefully refers to them) are poorly addressed.
It is common for patients to be told "pores don't open and close – their size is fixed" but this is no assurance to anyone who looks in the mirror and finds evidence to the contrary!
Dermatologists, plastic surgeons, cosmetic physicians and beauty therapists have different methods by which to to address the overall texture of skin, however pore appearance remains a perennial complaint.

Why Is Pore Appearance A Concern?

The simple answer to this question is because it comes up so often. Large pores aren't thought of as a disease yet they can cause distress affecting quality of life. Patients frequently report that they haven't liked the look of their pores for years and that the visibility of their pores has been worsening since puberty. That's a long time to put up with something that can be handled with little effort.
Frequently, addressing pore appearance successfully makes more of a difference in making a patient look healthy, young and vibrant than more expensive and involved procedures for other concerns like wrinkles.

What Affects Pore Appearance?

While pore size is determined by our genes at the outset, our lifestyles, the environment and skin care habits all make a huge difference. The impact of nature over nurture is often cited as difficult to determine and quantify however it's clear that you can be born with essentially invisible pores and grow up to have, or develop much later in life, pores which are far from their original state.
Pore appearance is worsened by collagen and elastin degradation – due to intrinsic and extrinsic aging – and congestion within the pores – due to a process similar to acne.
Initially, you can be affected by one or both of these factors, however the longer you leave congested pores "as-is" the more collagen and elastin degradation occurs and the more permanent your pore problem becomes. This is because pores congested with unwanted and unnecessary materials (like dead cells and oils) stretch the pores.
When they have been stretched for long enough they will no longer return to their original size without coaxing, even once the unwanted pore-clogging material has been removed.
Thankfully, there are treatments which are the equal and better of these phenomena, but don't be too complacent because the longer you leave an aesthetic complaint linger the slower, more tedious and expensive the treatment will become and the more likely it will be associated with side effects.

Treatment of Visible "Open" Pores

The treatment of open pores should address all causes in order to be the most effective possible and to provide the most durable results.
Why shouldn't you have clear, tight pores 7 days a week?

Treating Congestion

Pores made visible by congestion – highlighted by wastes within the pore which look different to the surrounding skin – are addressed by treatments which unplug the pores and prevent future blockages.
This should be seen as different from temporary methods which lift a portion of the waste from the pores or mask their appearance cosmetically but do nothing fundamental to the underlying problem.
Pore strips and manual squeezing or "extractions" at home or by beauty therapists (which pull out a portion of a blocked pore) and facial masks (which cause the upper layers of the skin to swell somewhat, giving the appearance of tighter pores) fall into this category.
With these approaches it's never long (perhaps as little as a few hours) before the poorly functioning pores refill with oil and debris or return to a more natural, less hydrated and less plumped or swollen state.
Makeup and "pore minimizer products" such as matte-finish moisturizers and makeup primers aren't much good either and in many cases encourage blockages to remain by sealing off the skin's surface, preventing oils and dead skin cells from leaving the pores.

Treating Collagen and Elastin Degradation

Due to the effects of chronological aging, extrinsic aging (such as environmentally-derived aging, particularly UV exposure) and (if a factor) the distension of the pores by retained oils, dead skin cells and other wastes, skin's collagen and elastin decline in quality and quantity.
This is a key target for effective treatment because these two substances make up what skin fundamentally is, providing it with structure, substance and, most importantly, the ability to snap back to its originally (genetically-determined form).
The quantity of collagen and elastin in your skin can be restored with treatments which stimulate collagen and elastin production, but are only markedly effective when combined with treatments and measures which also help prevent the excessive breakdown of these two substances.

Treatment – In Essence

Effective treatment of open pores requires ingredients which stimulate renewal of collagen and elastin (ingredients which hasten the cell cycle), prevent and clear pore blockage (comedolytics) anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and sunscreens (which prevent the breakdown of your new, higher quality collagen and elastin that will help give your skin back the strength and "bounce" to restore a more normal and tighter pore structure and function).
These ingredients have to be used in high enough concentrations and be able to be absorbed by the skin in order to actually work.

Sound Complicated?

If you head to the beauty salon, cosmetics counter or look around online you will encounter a plethora of seemingly promising but ultimately very superficially effective and often only notional solutions requiring multiple products taking an inordinate amount of time to implement.
As you try these solutions (and it would take years to get through all of them!) your pores will be getting incrementally worse.
Sunscreen is the only product widely available which helps prevent collagen and elastin breakdown, however if you use it alone you'll likely find it clogs your pores somewhat.
For a sunscreen that's not going to clog your pores, look for those containing zinc oxide, or better yet look for Japanese, European or Australian sunscreens – they contain far more skin-friendly and effective sunscreen agents than those currently available in the US.

Open Pores – The Dermatologist's Response

Melbourne Dermatology has found that the most effective ingredients for treating open pores are salicylic acid, mandelic acid, retinoic acid, benzoyl peroxide, pyruvic acid and some forms of zinc. These have the potential to treat and prevent both pore congestion and collagen and elastin degradation.
When used in combinations at the right percentages and in a stable formula able to be absorbed by skin some of these ingredients perform better than when used alone, producing more impressive results with fewer (if any) side effects.
Treatment of open pores does not necessarily require office visits. MD Rx Open Pores Overnight Solution was developed to enhance patient outcomes by tackling an extremely common and recurrent concern. It contains a selection of the above ingredients. This product is usually used alone for at least 6 weeks (once or twice weekly) in conjunction with a sunscreen during the day and is greatly effective in the majority of cases.
If after 6 weeks the patient is not satisifed or would like faster progress then more aggressive, but similar treatments are used, including in-office procedures. Even when this is the case, the MD Rx Open Pores Overnight Solution is the preferred preparation for further treament and must be used for at least 2 weeks prior to a professional medical treatment to ensure a good and safe outcome.
A low-GI diet based on whole foods high in naturally-occuring antioxidants, avoiding sugar and stress also help correct and maintain pore appearance, primarily by reducing inflammation which highlights the appearance of the pores, reducing collagen and elastin breakdown from glycation and reducing excessive oil flow which blocks pores.
Appropriate skin care supports treatment and should include non-comedogenic products containing beneficial levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and sunscreens (preferably zinc or from outside the US).
Supplementary treatments can include laser and Botox (which can reduce pore size by relaxing the walls of the pore) but are not normally required.

Further Information

Melbourne Dermatology – Open Pores and Treatment.

Biore Pore Strips and Darphin Skin Mat Purifying Aromatic Clay Mask – example temporary solutions.
La Praire Cellular Emulsion Matte Pore Minimizer – example moisturizer marketed for visible pores.


Hi everyone!  It's Emily for a quick message!  I read this article written by Gina and I found it extremely informative and helpful.  I hope you all enjoyed reading this and if you are a guest blogger you can email me to contact me!  Thanks so much for reading! xx

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