Welcome to the world in your face.
Natural elements like the sun, harsh winds, dust, smog, and your diet, all take a daily toll on your face. The only thing on your side and in your control is a good skin care routine. “There are over 20,000 pores and how you take care of them can change the way you look,” says dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo, “Taking care of pores is the first step in maintaining great skin.” Our skin has two layers. There is a thin layer on top called the epidermis and a thicker one below, the dermis, which is where we find oil glands, hair follicles, fatty layers, nerves, and sweat glands.
When body temperature rises, fluid (sweat) is released from the gland, travels up towards the epidermis and reaches the skin surface through pores. The epidermis is made up of live and dead surface cells. “When the dead cells mix with the oil secretion (sebum), it clogs your pores and prevents your skin from breathing, which may lead to blemishes. If your pores are clear, you can avoid breakouts, blackheads and enlarged pores,” she says.
Changing hormone levels combined with excessive oil on the skin surface may be responsible for that lone bump on your nose that always seems to appear just before the most important date in your life. “Once the outlet for your skin oil gland is closed, the oily sebum builds up beneath the surface and causes a white head. If the sebum is exposed to air but still stuck in the pore, it darkens into a black head. Infection from bacteria may only worsen the condition,” says Dr. Lupo. Of course, the best way to prevent big, red, painful pimples is to stop squeezing and picking! This often just bursts the acne pore deep inside, enlarging and spreading the pimple. And the most common way of infecting a zit is by touching it with your fingers.
So, stop touching your face! And whatever you do, please don’t pop that zit either. “Popping can cause your skin to become red, inflamed, infected, or scarred. Also, popping pimples can push infected material further into the skin, leading to more swelling and redness,” says Dr. Lupo. To keep bacteria at bay, don’t touch your face with your fingers (I thought I’d repeat myself in case you didn’t get the message the first time) or lean your face on objects that collect sebum and skin residue like the telephone receiver or your desk at school. Remember to wash your hands before applying makeup. If you wear glasses or sunglasses, make sure you clean them frequently to keep oil from clogging the pores around your eyes and nose.
GET IN THE ZONE
You’ve probably noticed that it’s hard to tell exactly what type of skin you have. Some people are lucky that way, they are uniformly dry or oily but most of us are stuck with combination skin, where certain parts of the face get much greasier than the rest. It’s called the T-zone, “which consists of your forehead, nose and chin. These are also common breeding grounds for acne and blackheads although blackheads can appear anywhere else on the body as well,” says Dr. Lupo.
Enlarged pores are nothing but a daily annoyance that starts after fighting off a zit. They look like tiny craters in your skin and appear mostly on the skin around your nose. “Often, these pores are much more noticeable if you have oily skin, but even dry complexions can suffer from large pores within the dreaded T-zone. However, most enlarged pores on the face are the result of hereditary factors,” says Dr. Lupo, so if your mum and dad had them, you may too. Dr. Lupo says to avoid using harsh toners and astringents in this area and try to avoid using excessive moisturizers around the T-zone since it is already quite oily. But if you’re torn between wearing sun protection lotion versus minimizing the size of your pores, SPF should be the priority.
LET’S FACE IT
Depending on your skin type (oily, dry, or a combination of both), you can choose different soaps and moisturizers to fit your needs. “If your skin is on the dry side, invest in an oil-free moisturizer that’s been formulated for dry skin. If your skin is generally oily, try using oil-absorbing astringents or other skin care products with salicylic acid that help to kill bacteria and dry up pimples,” says Dr. Lupo.
You can also freshen up between classes with oil-absorbing sheets, which wipe away shine when you don’t have time to wash your face. Gently dab it around the shiny areas and always be gentle to your skin. Washing with a salicylic acid cleanser will temporarily remove pore-clogging debris and surface oil. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are also a good first line of defense. They gently exfoliate skin to prevent cells from building up and clogging pores. Pore strips are another good temporary solution because they help dislodge debris, however keep in mind they don’t prevent further blackheads so you need to keep your skin clean if you don’t want zits in the first place.
Also, try using gentle warming face-masks that contain zeolite, a mineral clay which heats up on contact with water and gently warms, relaxes and cleanses the skin. Of course, drink plenty of water. Water helps flush out impurities and keeps your skin healthy. And look for skin care products with tea tree oil, menthol, and witch hazel to help prevent blackheads and blemish-causing bacteria. And one last tip: keep your hair clean and out of your face (especially if you have bangs) to prevent additional dirt and oil from clogging your pores. Trends may come and go but your skin is forever.
Thanks to our beautiful models: All are Faze interns/volunteers: 1) Ashley Ebner 2) Holly Dobson 3) Berkeley Miller