So here’s the thing about having big pores. If you’re shallow, or you’ve grown up around catty teenage girls, or you read women’s magazines, or you were raised in a place not resembling an apocalypse bunker, you’re aware that LARGE, CLOGGED PORES are supposedly a plague on your face. A PLAGUE (I’m holding up a skull and yelling in a Shakespearian accent, can you tell? Are you getting that through your computer screen?)
I spent way too many years reading everything I could about how to shrink mine, and fell victim to a lot of bullshit schemes in an effort to “fix” them. I extracted. I paid mean Ukranian women to extract for me. I bought every face wash, toner, astringent, mask, serum, spritz and supposed sebum-blaster that I saw. I burned off the top few layers of my skin using various acids (salicylic, glycolic, fruit, you name it), I scrubbed it until it bled with everything from exfoliators to brushes to pink brillo pads. I did more damage than good, and when I was at my lowest I convinced a haughty dermatologist in Westchester to prescribe me Accutane in an effort to shrink my much-hated blackheads for good. And somewhere between the first blood test and reading the fine print about how if I got pregnant during the treatment, my baby would come out looking like a mud-dwelling catfish, I had a realization:
Some bitches just have bigger pores than others.
And the truth is– the SECRET, dirty, no-good, butt-headed truth– is this: for those of us bestowed upon/cursed with larger-than-microscopic pores, clearing those pores out (let’s be gross: removing the actual blackhead) still leaves you with a visible pore. And that’s almost worse, because then you have what looks like a tiny (but definitely visible with the naked eye) HOLE in your face…which is then impossible to cover without having to cake your face with makeup.
I have succeeded in removing every clogged-up blackhead plug from my face, only to recoil in horror at the fact that my nose now looked as though it had been pricked all over with a deep, angry pin. I was LITERALLY full of holes. (Also red and splotchy and sort of crying.) I looked nuts. I looked sad, and broken, and hole-ridden. I looked like sad Swiss cheese, and I realized that this obsessive, crazy extraction shit? Not worth it.
There is no miracle product that will actually shrink your pores. OHMYGODIKNOW, JUST QUIT NOW, YOUR LIFE ISN’T WORTH LIVING. I have felt this. But still.
What we’re really looking for every time we buy a “Pores-B-Gone!” miracle elixir is, in all honesty, something that will magically graft a whole new sheet of tiny-pored skin over our existing skin. And no matter what certain companies tell you, that does not exist at the moment. When it does, I’m going to be all up in that lab, swabbed with iodine, grinning like a crazyface and singing songs about my future poreless skin graft. Until then?
I do what I can to keep my skin looking healthy– looking dewy, fresh, rosy and bright. Because that is what people actually notice. People without magnifying glasses. If your skin looks even toned and fit, clear and without visible festering sores, you look rad. And yes, you can look rad with big pores the same way you can look rad with crazy Kahlo eyebrows. BEAUTY: it’s fucking tricky like that.
I use gentle fruit acid masks 2x a month or so to keep my t-zone relatively in check, and I use my oldschool Biore pore strips (mostly because I like staring at the disgusting little tree farm that’s revealed when I peel one of those suckers off) and I use a couple other products that, while not a new skin graft, seem to do a great job of making my big pores look…..well, nicer.
No one likes blackheads; if they do, they are a gross cave troll and I don’t have time for that nonsense. This blog is not troll-friendly. So, for the non-cave dwellers, here is some stuff to help you keep those blackheads at bay, keep your pores looking clean (but not empty and gaping and scary) and your face looking fresh to death.
First up, I use a topical retinoid (which I’ll dedicate a whole post to later, because I feel very strongly about these but they are nothing if not controversial for young chicks.)
Second, I use Clarisonic, and I can’t tell you for sure that it’s worth every penny because I do not know you/your bank account intimately, but I can tell you that a) it feels like something an extraordinarily rich and famous woman would have her servant use on her every morning after her milk & Evian bath, and b) my skin is softer & brighter because of it.
Third, I use this:
This stuff had such glowing reviews that I bought it and literally did a dance the first time I used it. I danced around my apartment with a crazy blue face, waiting for it to dry, certain that when I rinsed it off I would look like Angelina Jolie.
Imagine my extreme displeasure when that did not, in fact, come to pass.
The truth is that this takes a few weeks for you to see real, changed results– and though a little more on the subtle side than a full Angelina-fication, they are actually pretty great results when they show up. Case in point: I used this before breakfast today, followed by a pore strip. (The vacuum cleaner seems like it helps to get everything in your pores ready to be ripped off your face in a more efficient way than usual….and yes, that’s the medical term, right there. It’s face-rippingly good.) And after I’d thrown on my usual SPF cocktail, a grown ass man not related to me or dating me, and who cares about football and not makeup, stopped dead in his tracks and asked me if I’d used “some kind of skin…cream….mask…thing” because my face looked so goddamn good. I consider that hard evidence.
This is not actually going to vacuum your pores out (I know, I know, I was pissed too) but in terms of fighting that good fight, it’s a pretty good weapon to have on your side.
Next up is the Murad:
The above is a great option if your issues are localized– it has all those sexy acids in it that are going to break down dirt and oil, as well as a retinoid if you haven’t the need/desire to spring for one of those as a separate product. All in all a great product, priced pretty competitively, and it smells like something a doctor would apply (read: kind of weird) so you know it’s not fucking around up there on your face.
It’s got aloe and grapeseed and antioxidents and all that good stuff as well, so you’re getting some bang for your buck. I use this in the summer when I need an extra dose of help. I like it, it works well, and it doesn’t hurt my sensitive skin. (To be fair, my skin is probably sensitive because I burnt it and scrubbed it with brillo pads. My b.)
And finally: I’ve found that massaging a layer of Jojoba oil into my face for a full minute while yammering at my boyfriend about Lindsay Lohan’s latest crack-tastrophy is by far the best thing I’ve ever done for my skin or pores, ever. It sounds pretty crunchy (the oil, not the Lohan) but it works, and its worked for a lot of other people, so give it a shot if you’re feeling devil-may-care in the beauty aisle at Whole Foods.
Remember: your pores are still a part of your face, and when it comes to your face you need to be your own crazy restraining-order level fan. You need to be the Clint Eastwood to your face’s Hilary Swank, all up in your corner, shouting at yourself that you’re the baddest bitch out there and that you’ve got this, you’ve got this, you’re the best in the ring, kid.You need to punch those negative face-clawing thoughts out cold, and run around your house naked, holding up your mirror like it’s a Championship belt, and revel in being the best at everything and killing it, always.
So the next time you find yourself standing knee deep in astringent-soaked cotton balls, clawing at your skin screaming WHY WON’T YOU JUST BE NORMAL FOR ONCE, get out of there. Get out of that room filled with wet, smelly cotton balls. Get out of there, and get out of that head space, because you’re not doing your face any favors, and your face? Deserves mad favors. Go buy your face a nice brow pencil, a nice pore treatment, whatever. Whisper that it’s the only face for you. Treat it like it won the face lottery. Because it’s your face; it’s the only face you’re ever going to have, and even with some big-ass pores, it’s still a thing of fucking beauty.
Yours, pores included,