We’ve all had that moment when we wake up, look in the mirror and see that our face looks as though it has not one pore on it. Then we spend the rest of the day, the week even, trying to get back to that supersmooth look, oftentimes unsuccessfully.

But the truth is, we all have pores, and as we get older they get larger. Fortunately there are some easy practices we can incorporate into our skin care routines to help reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. And all of these strategies have other skin care benefits.

ESSENCE talked to Allison Britt Kimmins, M.D., M.P.H., of Advanced Dermatology PC, in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, who offered up some tips on minimizing pores and getting the skin together for summer and beyond.

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Give your skin a deep cleaning. The most common reason why we see widened pores is because we get debris, bacteria, dead skin cells, oils and other unwanted elements trapped in them, according to Kimmins. Then we add makeup and other products throughout the day. Making sure the skin is thoroughly cleansed—the good doc recommends getting facials—will help shrink pores.

Add collagen to your regimen. Kimmins says as we age our pores become dilated as a result of lost collagen and elastic tissue. So all those collagen-producing products you’ve invested in for antiaging could assist in tightening those pores. “I like microneedling for pore size too, because it helps to stimulate new collagen production and you can actually [safely] do that on any skin type,” she explains.

Exfoliate. It sounds simple enough, but it’s definitely something you don’t want to skip. Salicylic and glycolic acids are still great go-tos for exfoliating skin of color. “You can make most skin look significantly better just by exfoliating and doing procedures that are very mild,” Kimmins offers.

Embrace retinoids. “Retinoids in general are really good at unclogging the pores, just like the salicylic acids and the glycolic acids,” says Kimmins. “They not only help to exfoliate but [they also] might even help you build up a little bit of collagen.” She still loves Retin-A (tretinoin), but says if you can’t get to the doctor, over-the-counter retinoids will do.

Wear sunscreen. We should all know to wear sunscreen daily by now, but according to experts, it has benefits that go beyond light protection. “No matter what complexion you are, you need to protect your skin because the sun destroys collagen,” Kimmins adds. “You’re wasting your money on the exfoliating agents, the retinoids, all of that other stuff, if you’re not protecting your skin with SPF.” And don’t forget to reapply if you’re out all day.

Allison Britt Kimmins is a dermatologist specializing in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is a member of several medical organizations, including the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Medical Association and the Dermatology Foundation. She is also vice-chair of the Dermatology Foundation for Eastern Pennsylvania.


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