Thursday, September 11

All about PORES, Why are they such troublemakers?

We hear all the time 'opens and cleanses your pores, blocked pores, enlarged pores' etc. And we start to think our pores are the enemy, but here's a secret, they're not! They are however the centre of your skin universe for healthy, clear, balanced skin.

OPen pores on a cheek
Open pores on a cheek. source

What are pores and what do they do?
Your face is covered in lots of little holes, these are your pores. They're bigger around the sides of your nose onto your cheeks. They're actually the end of little tubes transporting oil from the oil glands to the surface of your skin; oil (or sebum) is also not your enemy! Oil (sebum) lubricates and protects your skin against all the nasties in the air. Oily skin produces slightly too much of this oil whereas dry skin doesn't produce enough. Throughout the day your pores open and close with changes of temperature and that's where the trouble starts.

Why are they such troublemakers?
When pores get clogged acne happens! This can happen in 3 ways;

Imagine your pores; a network of little holes. You get ready for your day and apply make up over those pores (and maybe some bacteria from an unwashed make-up brush, is this you? Naughty!). You go out - pollution hits your face and sits there (bus fumes anyone? Yuk!). You touch doors, money, your steering wheel, your hair, your handbag etc and then you reach up to touch your face and transfer all kinds of bacteria and hair products to your skin. Then you get hot, your pores open and that germy cocktail goes tumbling into your pores, your pores close up. Meanwhile your pore keeps producing oil but now there's a plug in the way; the oil is trapped under this layer of gunk! The oil keeps coming and the pore gets bigger becoming an enlarged pore. It may develop into a spot, blackhead or whitehead (guide coming soon!). 

Ornages, orange peel, pores
Enlarged pores look like the surface of an orange/lemon
(and is a less gross photo to include than close-ups of real people's pores! (source)
The other cause of blocked pores is dead skin cells. Your skin sheds dead skin cells inside the pore as well as on the skin's surface. When the oil travels up the tube to your pore it mixes with any dead skin cells that have been left behind and this can also cause a blocked pore.

And if you're going for the hat-trick, the final way to block your pores is by using the wrong products for your skin type or using terrible ingredients on your skin. 

So the solution seems really simple doesn't it? Open pores, cleanse, exfoliate regularly! But so many of us out there are crying in frustration "I already do that!! But I'm still getting blackheads and acne!" 

So what can I do?
Once the blocked pore has become a blackhead, spot or whitehead (known collectively as comedones) that's a different topic for another day! A consistent, good skincare regimen of proper cleansing, regular exfoliation and avoiding the wrong ingredients should keep those pores running clearly and unblock them before they get clogged and develop into a comedone.

Of course if you're cleansing properly at the end of the day you'll be opening the pores and cleaning out this gunk before it has time to become a blockage. Go to bed with it all sitting there at your peril!!!

Some quick advice. . .
The oil cleansing method opens your pores and allows the oil to dissolve the dirt inside them. Using a chemical exfoliant such as glycolic or salicylic acid will keep your skin free from dead skin cells. And if acne is a worry for you brew up some of this wonderful apple cider vinegar and green tea toner or one of the variations mentioned to really kick acne's ass!!

You know how people say 'look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves'? Well in this case your pores are the pennies, so look after your pores and your skin will take care of itself! Read Cleansing - What Why and How to find out how you should be cleansing and what to avoid and check out the toner guide too. 

This is a big topic and there'll be many more posts to come on keeping your pores clear and unblocked, but for now this post should give you a good understanding of what your pores are and how they work.

Ciao for now

(as always I'm addressing mild to moderate acne and not cystic acne which is much different and needs the attentions of a trained medical professional)

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