Blackheads and Enlarged Pores

Blackheads and Enlarged Pores.

the concerns we have regarding the size of our pores is practically a national obsession. No doubt this is provoked by inescapable multimedia images of glamorous faces airbrushed to impossibly attainable perfection. The truth is that pores are a fact of life. They aren't invisible and everyone has them. But not everyone knows how best to minimize their pores' appearance.

Pores play a vital role in skin physiology. After all, without them we'd have nowhere for hair to grow out of and no method for skin oils to reach the surface, protecting the skin from environmental dehydration.

Technically speaking, the pore is little more than the opening of the hair follicle onto the surface of the skin. The source of the hair follicle lies deep within the dermis. Midway up the dermal layer, the sebaceous oil gland empties into the hair follicle. Both skin oil (sebum) and the hair breach the surface through this tiny aperture. Wherever there is a hair, there will be a pore.

Why do pores appear larger? The closer you look in the mirror, the larger your pores are going to appear. If you have a habit of examining your skin in the magnifying side of your beauty mirror, perhaps it isn't really your best friend. So put it aside and address the factors that really do play havoc with your pores.

  • Genetics may certainly be to blame. Pores are barely visible on those prone to a drier skin. Individuals with oily, thicker skins tend to have larger looking, more noticeable pores. This is often hereditary. But an oily skin often ages slower???
  • Sun damage is another cause. As we age, one of the ways sun damage affects the skin is through the enlargement of the pores. Sun damage and aging cause the epidermis to thicken and a rim of cells are more likely to collect around individual pores. While microscopic, these rings exaggerate pore diameter.
  • Pores may be more visible simply due to lack of good skin grooming and poor exfoliation. Too much surface oil and remnant naturally shed skin cells can collect around the edges of pores, creating the illusion of the pores being larger than they really are.
  • Blackheads and enlarged pores often go hand-in-hand. Blackheads can either expand pores or simply focus attention on them. But pores can appear larger for many reasons, blackheads being one of them.

Pores are a natural part of the skin; blackheads are the superficial plugs that may form within them. Pore dilatation begins with the faulty exfoliation of cells lining the interior gland - cells are too "sticky" leading to microscopic plugs. Sebaceous glands continue to produce sebum that accumulates behind the plugs.

Dead skin cells, oils and bacteria choke the follicular opening, expanding the diameter of the pore. Blackheads - medically termed "open comedones" - are an all too common outcome. Plugs within the pores composed of sebum, cellular debris and bacteria congest the gland and expand the pore. Contact with air allows oxygenation to take place, turning the plugs black, further heightening visibility.

An inordinate amount of time seems to be devoted to facials and extractions. Certainly well performed "physical" exfoliation can indeed cleanse cellular matter caught beneath the surface. Extractions should always be performed by trained Beauty Therapists because poorly executed extractions can cause the glands to rupture contributing to sudden acne flare-ups. What extractions don't do is treat the cause of enlarged paores. Treatments like HL Professional Peels plus products containing AHA's, BHA,s and retinols can solve a multiple issues. Sometimes a strategic combination produces the best results. Targeting the key factors that cause exaggerated pore diameter will quickly minimize visibility.

  • Unplugging debris
  • Eliminating bacteria
  • Reducing excessive oiliness
  • Removing blackheads
  • Smooth out the edges
  • Reduce sun damage
  • Draw the pores closed

So you know what needs to be done, but how to accomplish the goal? These are the how's and why's of pore minimizing performers:

Topical Vitamin A Treatments

There are a myriad of prescription medications in this category: Retin A, Differin and Renova are just a few. These will often cause side effects like rashes but as well as their skin rejuvenating abilities they also work to help as potent pore minimizers. Topical Vitamin A treatments work by normalizing the keratinization process. They help prevent the cells lining the gland from sticking together, promoting more effective exfoliation. Used on blackheads, they work to loosen the plug as well as chemically "peel" the rim of the pore but with rashes, flaking skin and irritation.

Retinol is a easy and safe form of Vitamin A. While not as potent it still offers help in reducing pore visibility and improving skin texture.The HL Range has active products that all contain retinols, AHA's BHA's and vitamins. All these ingredients can increase your skin's sun sensitivity (meaning don't forget a good SPF 30 during the day) and none should be used while pregnant or nursing.


As far back as Cleopatra, alpha hydroxy acids have been used in skin care. Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) is a blanket term for a variety of fruit acids including Glycolic, Citric, Lactic, Malic and Tartaric. AHAs help disintegrate the "glue" that hold dead, dry skin cells to the surface of the skin. By doing so, the epidermis is exfoliated leaving a silky texture. Removal of this external barrier enables easier, deeper penetration of other skin treatments as well.

BHA (beta hydroxy acid) is the trendy term for salicylic acid, a natural acid derived from willow bark, wintergreen leaves, and sweet birch bark. It also works to exfoliate cellular debris and unplug pores. It's a golden oldie effective ingredient often used in dermatology for acne therapy. Several skin care options incorporate both AHAs and BHA to help amplify chemical exfoliation. BHA and AHA's are found combined in our HL Range of Specialised Products.

Oil Reduction

Granted not everyone looking to minimize the appearance of their pores has an issue with oiliness. But if so, or if blackheads are an issue, reducing excessive surface skin oils helps reduce build-up and pore plugging which contributes to pore visibility.Those of you plagued by extreme oiliness may find the new HL Oil reducing range perfect to solve your problems.

Physical Exfoliation

Whether looking to use an exfoliating cleanser, home microdermabrasion or simply trying to extract that stubborn blackhead, remember gently does it! Physical exfoliation has its place in minimizing pore appearance but don't be harsh. In-fact an exfoliation scrub during a breakout may irritate the skin and cause further breakouts. If aggressive exfoliation is your passion then STOP! Maybe consider investing in a series of AHA/BHA and Retinol Salon Strength Peels. Available at all escape day spas.

Whatever your choice of solving your pore problems homecare and twice daily cleansing, toning and hydrating with the correct products to suit your skin and your concerns is very important.

Good luck!

Call any of our spas for a complimentary skin charting session and let us help you solve you problems with honest advice and visible solutions.

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