enlarged pores
May 8, 2005 6:15 PM   Subscribe

As I've gotten a little older, I've noticed the pores on either side of my nose (the "T-Zone") have gotten bigger and much more orange-rind-like than they were ten years ago. Many skincare products claim they can reverse this—how valid are the claims? My dermatologist was skeptical. I've also heard that low-dose Accutane can help with this?
posted by jenleigh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total)
Best answer: Reputable people agree with your dermatologist that pore size cannot be changed. If you have oily skin, your pores are going to be larger than you'd like. As you grow older, even if your skin has never been very oily, your pores may just get larger anyway. It sucks, I know.

But if you take care of your skin to minimize blackheads (if you have them), at least you won't have the trapped sebum further stretching out your pores. Salicylic acid, prescription Retin-a formulations, and Differin are all effective to some degree for different people. I have rosacea and acne and find that Differin is the mildest of the three, and it still helps control my blackheads.

Accutane will help reduce blackheads, too, but it is an incredibly fucking serious drug, especially for women, because of the risk of fetal abnormalities. There is no low dose of Accutane considered safe for a fetus, so if a woman has not yet absolutely finished going through menopause, she should expect to sign some serious documents if and when she gets a prescription for it. Low dose or regular dose, both men and women face the risk of side effects, such as dry and cracking skin.

If you wear makeup, look for a very matte finish instead of moister/shinier formulations to prevent the product from pooling inside your pores. Paula Begoun recommends "Revlon ColorStay, Stay Natural Makeup SPF 15, or Clinique SuperFit Makeup ($19.50), then follow up with an oil-absorbing powder like Almay Skin Stays Clean Pore Minimizing Pressed Powder ($10.89)" as well as Shiseido Smoothing Veil SPF 16: "a silicone-based makeup primer with an in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen. This colorless, solid cream works to temporarily fill in lines and large pores, and leaves a soft, opalescent finish that feels very silky. It's an extra step whose line- and pore-filling benefit won't last throughout the day, but this is a great way to get sun protection if your favored foundation does not include sunscreen or lacks effective UVA protection."
posted by maudlin at 7:32 PM on May 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem, but I've found that using pore strips (such as Biore's) keeps them in check. The trick is using them regularly. The box says you can use them every 3 days, but I find that weekly works well for me.
posted by carlitos at 8:06 PM on May 8, 2005

Accutane is a last resort, and even then its use is controversial. Using it for enlarged pores seems obscene.
posted by letitrain at 9:16 PM on May 8, 2005

I used to be addicted to those Biore strips. Then my dermatologist found out and read me the riot act. While it feels oddly satisfying to rip blackheads and plugs of sebum out of your face, the strips remove only the top part of the blackhead, also remove some skin, and contain some potentially irritating chemicals that can cause inflammation and more breakouts. Your skin can temporarily look and feel better, but it's not a good long term strategy for your skin.

The strips gave me what seemed to be amazing initial results, but they pulled out less and less guck with repeated use. My dermatologist switched me to Differin. It took several weeks instead of a few seconds, but my blackheads cleared up beautifully without putting glue and other harsh chemicals on my skin.
posted by maudlin at 9:22 PM on May 8, 2005

The earlier posters have said what I would have said about the unhappy inevitability of pore size. Still and all, and I apologize for plugging a product (I have no affiliation with the company whatsoever) I use Zia Fresh Papaya Enzyme Peel and find that it makes my pores look significantly less apparent. It deals not only with the crud in open pores, but the various dead skin cells, and seems to make everything generally more appealing. I don't wear makeup, but if you do, I imagine it would provide a cleaner slate for the painting.
posted by rebirtha at 9:44 PM on May 8, 2005

I have a friend who cleared up his rosacea by including freshly ground flax seed in his diet. ymmv. I've got the increasing pores in the nasal area, and when I'm sick people make jokes about "gin blossoms." Good to know there are some possible treatments.
posted by mecran01 at 9:55 PM on May 8, 2005

careful with the Accutane, jen, the side effects list is very scary and very long (check out the FDA and other sources).
try some vitaminE-laced products, nutrition is important too -- the papaya and flaxseed oil suggestions are good. omega-3 foods would help, too. just be very careful with the Accutane
posted by matteo at 5:07 AM on May 9, 2005

A topical retinoid (like Differin mentioned by maudlin above) might be a better idea than Accutane, which as others have mentioned would probably be overkill in your situation. The topicals have the same mode of action as accutane, though with a much lighter effect both on your skin and your important organs. Of course, check with your doctor beforehand (you'll need to anyway to get the prescription).
posted by monocyte at 6:00 AM on May 9, 2005

Sidetrack: For those of you who use pore strips, don't waste your money! Scotch tape (or any kind of clear tape)works just as well. Of course, you want to do this at the end of the day when there is a bit of oil on your skin, otherwise you will rip off too many layers.
posted by crapulent at 7:43 AM on May 9, 2005

Also, I think IPL (FotoFacial, Photo Facial, etc.) treatments supposedly help reduce the appearance of pores. Although I haven't had any so I can't attest to that.
posted by crapulent at 7:45 AM on May 9, 2005

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