How to minimise pores: Top Singaporean dermatologists tell us if it’s actually possible

How to minimise pores: Top Singaporean dermatologists tell us if it’s actually possible


Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @natascha.lindemann

We have arrived in the age wherein authenticity takes precedence over perfection. In 2019 alone, Fenty has put acne scars on display, Kerry Washington has gone Photoshop-free in her CVS Beauty ad, and most recently, Haus Laboratories (that's Lady Gaga's beauty line) let pores go uncensored — a surprising move seeing how most cosmetic brands often deny their existence entirely. The movement normalises cavernous skin holes (jk), and brings to light a skincare woe experienced widely. We know pores are here to stay; they are in our genetic makeup. But is it possible to shrink them?

The plethora of "pore-reducing" serums, creams, and strips in the market suggest positivity. Skincare professionals, on the other hand, seem divided on the matter. We speak to top local dermatologists to get the bottom of this, delving deep into the cause, science, and solution behind large pores — because Ant-Man's shrink gun doesn't exist beyond the Marvel universe, okay?

What are pores for?

According to Dr Wong Soon Tee, accredited dermatologist of Assurance Skin, Laser, and Aesthetics, they are "tiny openings of oil glands in the skin" where sebum (read: our body's natural oils) is released so skin stays well moisturised.

What determines the size of our pores?

The general consensus is that it boils down to genetics. "Underlying acne issues and too much sun exposure plays a part too," explains Dr Liew Hui Min, dermatologist and founder of HM Liew Skin & Laser Clinic. "Certain lifestyle choices and the wrong use of skincare products, for instance, clog up pores. This, in turns, causes the formation of acne, blackheads, and whiteheads, which further enlarges pores." And that's not all — mature, ageing skin can also elongate pores as the loss of collagen fibres tend to stretch and “pull” pores so they appear larger than they are. Eep.

Is it possible to get rid of pores?

That's a resounding no across the board. Pores are a structural part of skin, and hence are impossible to eradicate. Reducing the appearance of pores, on the other hand, is very much possible. Dr Joyce Lim, director and dermatologist of Joyce Lim Skin & Laser Clinic, explains: "There are two ways to reduce the appearance of pores. The first is to consume an oral form of vitamin A, isotretinoin. It reduces oil gland activity and thus shrinks them in size, which, in turn, minimises their appearance. Failing that, you can also opt to tighten and firm skin. Firmer skin lends support to the oil glands, making for less discernable pores."

Dr Liew, on the other hand, recommends a gentle fractional CO2 laser or microdermabrasion if you truly want to see a difference. "You can also lessen the appearance of pores temporarily with cold water," she says. "Bear in mind, though, that while it does reduce superficial blood supply to the hair follicle, pore size does go back to normal once your skin surface returns to your core body temperature."

Are products able to help reduce the appearance of pores?

Both Dr Lim and Dr Liew recommend anything containing retinoids or exfoliating products that include AHA, BHA, glycolic acid, vitamin C and vitamin A. "These formulations help dislodge secretions from pores effortlessly," Dr Lim notes. "This allows them to appear more refined as they help 'tighten' the pores. It'll take about two months to truly see the effects of these products, though, so be sure to use them religiously."

Dr Liew also mentions that hydration is key. "It's crucial that you find the right moisturiser for your skin if you're looking to reduce the appearance of pores. When in doubt, please consult a dermatologist on the right products to use for your skin type."

So, where to begin? If you're at a loss, start with the following highly-raved about minimisers. Tinier pores await.