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Recently I read a really good question and answer forum by Dr. Mark Lees, who is by the way, a living legend when it comes to aesthetics. The questions focused on pores and common questions that people have about them.

The first question was Why do we see pores? I have had this question quite a bit in my days in the skin care biz. There are a couple of reasons that pores can appear enlarges, one of them is age. As we age, our skin loses elasticity, which causes our skin to stretch and sag, making the pores on your face appear larger. Another, as Mark addresses is just plain old luck of the draw when it comes to genes.

The term pore is actually a consumer term referring to the follicle’s appearance from a frontal and topical view. Froma scientific standpoint, the pore is the view of the top of the pilosebaceous follicle.

The amount of sebum (oil) the skin produces is genetic. The size and number of sebaceous glands, the number of lobes on the glands, and sebum production levels are also genetically influenced.

As the sebaceous glands produce sebum, the follicle dilates to accommodate the amount of sebum passing through the follicle to the skin’s surface, almost like a collapsible hose enlarges as water passes through it. If the skin is dry (alipidic), it produces
less sebum and the pores appear smaller because there is less oil passing through the follicle. Therefore, oily skin or oily areas of the skin have larger pores, and dry skin has smaller pores.

The second question, I also get alot is clogged pores, where do they come from, why do they seems worse after a facial, etc.

Clogged pores are follicles impacted with a combination of corneum cell buildup mixed with sebum that has solidified. There are several degrees of follicle impaction:

• Retention hyperkeratosis is the genetic tendency for cells to build up inside the follicle, causing the follicle walls to thicken.

• The overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands— also genetic—bathes the cell buildup, coating the dead cell accumulation. The sebum oxidizes, solidifies, and causes melanin to be secreted into the impaction. This creates a darkened head on the impaction.

• Larger lesions of this type are known as open comedones, more commonly called “blackheads.” These larger lesions are prominent in appearance, dilated, and easily extracted by a well-trained esthetician. Open comedones take several months to develop.

• Smaller clogged pores, such as ones on the nose, are known as sebaceous filaments. You may have noticed during extraction that the density of the material in these smaller impactions is thinner than that of a fully developed, open comedone. Open comedones contain much more dead cell accumulation, while sebaceous filaments are mostly sebum, which is why they reoccur so soon after an extraction facial.

And Lastly, someone asked about the incredible shrinking pores. Can pores really shrink?

Although the idea of shrinking pores is popular with advertisers promoting products, pore size cannot really be permanently reduced. However, pore appearance can be minimized over a period of several months thanks to continual home use of a daily alpha hydroxy gel. By removing cell buildup on the follicle walls, pore elasticity improves and the follicle walls retract. Pore minimizing toners and makeups are available and generally work by having an astringent effect on the skin’s surface, causing it to temporarily tighten, making the pores appear smaller and more refined.