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The Ultimate Guide to Minimising Large Pores in Singapore (2021)

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Dr K K Chew

August 4th, 2021· 5 min read

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Introduction

You may hear your friends complaining about how they have huge pores.

Their concern with large pores is usually more of a cosmetic one as it gives the face a textured and unsightly appearance. However, there are several treatments that can minimise these large pores, giving your skin a smoother appearance.

Read more to find out about the treatments that can help to minimise large pores.

What causes large pores?

Pores are small openings in the skin whereby oil and sweat can reach the surface from the glands under the skin. There are two types of pores - sweat pores and oil pores. Oil pores can appear large due to a variety of reasons such as:

  • Ageing: As we grow older, our skin loses collagen and its elasticity, resulting in a saggy, dry and wrinkled appearance of the skin [1]. This causes pores to appear larger.
  • Overproduction of sebum: Sebum is secreted by the sebaceous glands in the skin, which is used to lubricate the skin to protect it from friction, as well as preventing loss of moisture in the skin [2]. However, overproduction of sebum is shown to result in blocked pores, which eventually leads to enlarged pores.
  • Gender: Males generally have a greater number of visible facial pores than females. Facial pores on males are generally larger in size, and males also tend to produce more sebum than females. [3]
  • Sun damage: Overexposure to the sun can result in collagen damage in the skin, which can result in enlarged pores. [4]
  • Use of skincare products: Skincare products such as makeup, foundation and blush can lead to blocked pores which can eventually result in enlarged pores.
  • Hormones: A surge in hormones such as the luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone during ovulation can result in an increased production of sebum, resulting in enlarged pores in females [5].
  • Clogged pores: Acne, whiteheads or blackheads are results of clogged pores, which can also lead to larger and more noticeable pores.

Can large pores be minimised?

Unfortunately, pores cannot be minimised as their sizes are determined by genetics [6]. As such, there is no way to permanently change or minimise the size of your pores. While large pores cannot be minimised, it can be made to appear smaller. This can be done by exfoliation, which is the removal of dead skin cells, oil and dirt from the skin. Exfoliation gives a smoother, brighter and more even skin appearance. Another advantage of exfoliation is that it prevents clogged pores which can “stretch” the pore openings, causing the pores to look enlarged. [7] Apart from exfoliation, there are aesthetic procedures such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser treatments that can help to make large pores less visible and appear smaller.

Debunking: does heat cause our pores to become larger?

This is actually a myth. Heat does cause your skin (and the pores) to expand and dilate slightly. This only lasts temporarily. After a couple of minutes, the skin returns back to its normal temperature and the pores return to their normal size. [8] That being said, heat does soften the oil plugs trapped inside your skin, making them easier to remove.

Do large pores get bigger if you squeeze them?

Yes, squeezing your pores actually makes them larger! When you squeeze your pores, you stretch the elasticity around the pores. The loss in elasticity in the skin around the pores results in the pores being more visible and appear enlarged [9].

Treatment:

What skincare ingredients are suitable for large pores?

Skincare products containing retinoids (synthetic form of vitamin A) are recommended for people with large pores as they are able to stimulate collagen production in the skin. This reduces fine wrinkles and increases your skin’s tensile strength [10], allowing your pores to appear less visible. For topical use, you should look for skincare products that contain tretinoin (a derivative of retinoids) as they are the most effective when topically applied.

Other than retinoids, search for skincare products that contain alpha and beta-hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs). AHAs and BHAs give your skin a smoother, tighter and younger appearance by weakening the cellular “glue” holding dirt and dead skin cells together. [11] This allows the dirt and dead skin cells to be removed easily, revealing healthier and younger skin cells underneath. Examples of AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid, while an example of BHA is salicylic acid.

Polyhydoxyacids (PHA) work in a similar way to AHAs, by exfoliating dead cells on the skin’s surface and results in an even skin tone that helps to minimise large pores [12]. PHAs are also more gentle on the skin compared to AHAs, hence it would be more suitable for people who have sensitive skin. Examples of PHAs include gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that can help with large pores by boosting the skin’s natural repair and giving a “tightened” and firmer appearance. [13]

How do I minimise large pores at home?

While aesthetic procedures are typically more effective in minimising large pores, there are some things that you can do at home to help make your pores less visible too [14], [15].

  • Clean and exfoliate: Cleaning and exfoliating your face can help remove clogged pores, which can make your pores appear larger. You should cleanse your face at least twice a day and exfoliate once or twice a week.
  • Cucumber face mask: Cucumbers help to make your skin tighter, making your pores less visible.
  • Be gentle with your skin: Do not pick, scratch or squeeze your skin as it can cause the skin to lose its elasticity and sag, resulting in your pores appearing enlarged.
  • Use skincare with retinoids: Retinoids stimulate collagen production which can help make your pores appear smaller.
  • Aloe vera: Aloe vera can remove dirt and oil from your pores as well as make your skin smoother. This makes your pores appear smaller and less visible.

Do facials help with minimising large pores?

There are many types of facial treatments, ranging from microdermabrasion to chemical peelings to laser resurfacing. Facial treatments exfoliate your skin, removing dead skin cells, oil and dirt from your pores. At the same time, ingredients used during facial treatments can help to rejuvenate the skin, making it smoother and more youthful. Some facial treatments can even stimulate collagen production in your skin, which allows the skin to be rejuvenated, returning elasticity to the skin and making it more youthful-looking. [16] All of these can help to make large pores less visible.

What aesthetic procedures are there to minimise large pores?

Aesthetic procedures such as chemical peels, laser treatments, microdermabrasion and microneedling are commonly used to minimise large pores.

chemical peel treatment

Chemical peel

Chemical peels use chemicals to induce controlled inflammation of the skin, causing the skin to shed off the cells on its surface. This promotes the regeneration and remodelling of the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin, creating an improved texture and appearance [17]. Different chemicals are used depending on the depth of penetration into the skin, which determines the amount of skin that is shed:

  • Superficial peeling: AHAs (glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid), BHAs (salicylic acid), Jessner solution, tri-chlorinated carbonic acid (TCA) <20%
  • Medium peeling: TCA 35-50%
  • Deep peeling: TCA >50%, Baker-Gordon

What to expect?

Before the treatment, there will be a consultation with the doctor who will assess your skin type and examine your skin conditions. Depending on your skin type and condition, the doctor will then carefully select the type of chemicals to be used during the chemical peel.

The doctor will provide eye shields to protect your eyes from the chemicals and a hair net to keep your hair off your face during the procedure.

The treatment usually starts with the doctor removing your makeup (if any) and cleansing your face. The doctor then applies the exfoliant chemicals on thicker areas of the face such as the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin before moving on to the other parts of the face such as around the eyes and mouth. While the treatment does not cause pain, it actually causes mild stinging or discomfort. Your doctor may use a cold fan to help relieve the stinging sensation.

After the chemical peel session, the doctor will apply a cool saline compress to remove any remaining exfoliant chemicals. You will then be allowed to leave after receiving aftercare tips from the doctor. This whole process will take about 20 minutes. Over the next week, you will see that your skin will start to peel, and the peeling will last about 2 weeks. [18]

How many sessions do I need?

Most individuals will see visible results in 2 to 4 treatment sessions.

What are the side effects?

Side effects that can arise from chemical peels include redness, swelling and scabbing. These are common side effects that are expected to subside by itself [19]. However, there are also adverse side effects that can occur from chemical peels, such as scarring, hyper or hypopigmentation as well as infections.

What are some aftercare tips?

Here are some aftercare tips you should follow after a chemical peel to ensure a smooth recovery [20]:

  • Wash your face with cold water.
  • Avoid rubbing, scrubbing, scratching or picking your face.
  • Moisturise and hydrate your face.
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
  • Avoid strenuous workouts, sauna rooms or hot baths.
  • Do not exfoliate for 3-4 days post chemical peel.

Laser treatment

Lasers emit intense beams of energy at specific wavelengths that penetrate your skin. Different lasers emit lasers at different wavelengths. Both ablative and non-ablative lasers can help in minimising large pores and making it less visible.

Ablative lasers remove the top surface of the skin and heats the underlying layer of skin (dermis). This stimulates the production of collagen which improves the skin tone and texture [21]. This results in large pores appearing smaller and less visible. Types of ablative lasers include CO2 lasers, erbium lasers and combination lasers.

On the other hand, non-ablative lasers heat up the underlying layer of skin (dermis) without damaging the top surface of the skin to stimulate collagen growth, improving skin tone and texture. Types of non-ablative lasers include pulsed-dye lasers, Nd: YAG lasers and Alexandrite lasers.

Lasers that are typically used in the treatment of large pores include the Clarity II laser, Cutera Laser Genesis, Dual Yellow Laser, Ellipse I2PL laser and Enlighten PICO laser [22].

What to expect?

Before the treatment, there will be a consultation with the doctor who will assess your skin type and examine your skin conditions.

The doctor will start off the treatment by removing any makeup on your face and cleansing your face. A topical anaesthetic will be applied on your face to numb any discomfort you may experience during the procedure.

After the anesthesia sets in, your doctor will then start the procedure. A handheld laser device will deliver beams of laser energy onto your face. The whole procedure will take 20-40 minutes on average. During the procedure, there will be mild pain that is like a stinging sensation.

After the procedure, the doctor will apply a cooling gel on your face to soothe the skin. You will then be allowed to leave the clinic and resume normal activities.

How many sessions do I need?

Patients are recommended to undergo about 4-6 treatment sessions every 4-6 weeks. Thereafter, you can do maintenance sessions when necessary.

What are the side effects?

Common side effects that occur after laser resurfacing include redness, swelling and itching. These will resolve by themselves within days. However, there are adverse side effects and complications that come with laser treatments. These include hypo or hyperpigmentation, infections, contact dermatitis, acne flare ups and texture changes [23].

What are some aftercare tips?

Here are some aftercare tips you can follow after your microdermabrasion to ensure a smooth recovery [24]:

  • Do not pick at or scratch your skin after the treatment.
  • Apply a cold compress or an icepack on the treatment area to reduce swelling and redness.
  • Apply antibiotic cream as prescribed by your doctor to the treatment area.
  • Apply moisturiser to your skin to help keep it hydrated.
  • Use gentle skincare products during the recovery period (about 6 weeks post-treatment).
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more.
  • Avoid hot baths, swimming pools and saunas.

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion uses an abrasive component, usually aluminium oxide crystals and a vacuum component to rejuvenate the skin as well as treat various skin conditions like wrinkles, acne and scarring. [25] Microdermabrasion exfoliates the top layer of skin cells and promotes the production of new skin cells, as well as collagen and elastin production, making the skin appear smoother and more vibrant [26]. This causes pores to appear smaller and less obvious.

What to expect?

Before the treatment, there will be a consultation with the doctor who will assess your skin type and examine your skin conditions.

The doctor will start off the treatment by removing any makeup on your face and cleansing your face. Moist gauze pads will be placed on your eyes to avoid any contact with the abrasive aluminium oxide crystals that are used during the procedure. The aluminium oxide crystals are applied to the skin, exfoliating the pores of skin. The vacuum removes these crystals together with the dead skin cells. The procedure is painless and can last anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes.

After the treatment, any remaining crystals are removed with mild soap using a warm cloth. The doctor will then place a cool cloth over your face to help reduce the stinging sensation and redness. A moisturiser will be applied and you will be free to leave the clinic.

How many sessions do I need?

Patients are recommended to repeat the treatment at least 6 times every 1-2 weeks. The treatment can then be done when necessary thereafter. [27]

What are the side effects?

Some common side effects that are experienced are erythema (redness), mild pain and some abrasions. However, adverse side effects can include scarring, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation as well as ocular complications such as corneal infection [28].

What are some aftercare tips?

Here are some aftercare tips you can follow after your microdermabrasion to ensure a smooth recovery [29]:

  • Avoid the use of toners and cleansers for a day.
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or more.
  • Keep your skin hydrated and use gentle skin products.

Microneedling

Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure that uses fine needles to puncture the epidermis of the skin [30]. Micro-wounds created by the microneedling promotes the production of new skin cells and collagen, which helps make the skin smoother, tighter and appear more vibrant. This will help minimise large pores, making them appear smaller.

What to expect?

Before the treatment, there will be a consultation with the doctor who will assess your skin type and examine your skin conditions.

The doctor will start the treatment by removing your makeup and cleansing your face. A topical anaesthetic cream will then be applied to your face to help numb any discomfort you may feel from the procedure. After 20-30 minutes, the doctor will use a micro needling device to deliver micro-wounds to your face. You may feel some pain during the microneedling process that feels like being scratched. You may see a small amount of blood being shed during microneedling too.

Thereafter, your doctor will use an ice-cold sterile gauze to remove any blood from your face. A thin layer of hyaluronic acid can be applied to the treatment area before the patient is allowed to leave.

How many sessions do I need?

Patients are recommended to repeat the microneedling sessions 3-6 times every 2-4 weeks. Thereafter, maintenance sessions are only done when necessary. [31]

What are the side effects?

Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure, hence its side effects are usually mild. Common side effects after the procedure include some redness and swelling, which will subside by itself. [32] However, adverse side effects include infections and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation [33].

What are some aftercare tips?

Here are some aftercare tips you can follow after your microdermabrasion to ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or above for at least 2 weeks after your microneedling.
  • Reduce sun exposure for the first week after your microneedling.
  • Use a topical antibiotic cream prescribed to you to prevent infections.
  • Do not put on makeup for 24 hours after microneedling.
  • Avoid swimming pools, hot baths and saunas.
  • Avoid strenuous exercises and sweating.

How to prevent large pores?

Prevention of large pores starts with a good skincare routine. Some habits or routines that you can pick up to prevent large pores include [34]:

  • Choosing water-based products: Water-based products are oil-free, which are better for people with oily skin as they will not result in an accumulation of oil on your skin and result in large pores.
  • Washing your face in the morning and at night: Washing your face at least twice a day helps to remove dirt and oil from your pores, which makes them less visible.
  • Exfoliate: Exfoliation helps to remove dirt, sweat and dead skin cells that can clog the pores, resulting in the appearance of large pores. It is recommended to exfoliate once or twice a week.
  • Applying a clay mask: Clay absorbs sebum, as such, applying a clay mask once or twice a week can remove additional sebum from the skin. This prevents the pore from being clogged and appearing enlarged.
  • Remove makeup at night: It is important to always remove makeup before you go to bed. Keeping your makeup on overnight can cause pores to become blocked due to the buildup of makeup, oil and bacteria, which causes your pores to appear enlarged.
  • Wear sunscreen: Sun exposure can dry the skin, making pores appear large. It is recommended to wear sunscreen which has SPF 30 and above.
  • Treat acne: Acne can clog your pores, which makes them look more visible and enlarged.

What are the costs of minimising large pores in Singapore?

The costs of the various treatments available to minimise large pores are summarised in the table below. The costs can differ according to the clinic’s location, doctor’s experience and qualifications, type of products used as well as the complexity of your case.

As this is considered a cosmetic procedure, they will not be claimable by Medisave.

Conclusion

Large pores can be unsightly but thankfully, there are ways to make them look smaller and less visible. Do remember to consult a trusted doctor before doing the procedure to ensure that risks and complications are kept to a minimum.

I hope that you've found this guide useful, and perhaps gained more insight into the application process. Most of the admissions-related information (admin and logistics wise) can be found on the official NUS Faculty of Dentistry website.

To help yourself out, you should take note of what people look for when they look for a dentist.

This article was written by Dr K K Chew and published on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. Human medically reviewed the article on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. The last update was made on Friday, 18 September 2020.

Disclaimer: Opinions belong to the author and not to the platform.

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