What woman hasn't gotten up close and personal with her skin — and been horrified by the size of her pores? "They can look dramatically better in just one week," says Elena Arboleda, head aesthetician at the Mario Badescu Spa in New York City. Here, clever skincare tricks and amazing new products that keep your complexion clear and your pores almost invisible. To get the flawless face you crave, follow these five rules.
1. Keep skin clean
Never ever go to bed with your makeup on (it gets pushed deep into pores while you toss and turn), and when washing, spend a minimum of 30 seconds massaging in a cleanser. Use a face wash that suits your skin type — milky creams if you tend to be dry and foams or gels for normal or acne-prone complexions.
2. Prevent blackheads
Dampen skin, then lightly rub a facial scrub on areas prone to clogging — like the nose, cheeks, and chin — using circular motions. "Exfoliating loosens dry skin that can cause blockage," explains David E. Bank, MD, a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York. For oily complexions, use a scrub that contains a chemical exfoliator, such as alpha hydroxy or salicylic acid, three times a week. If you have dry or sensitive skin, use a gentle, nonabrasive, creamy exfoliator twice weekly.
3. Remove impurities
"A clogged pore expands, so the opening becomes wider," explains Dr. Bank. To decrease blemish-causing debris, apply a clay-based mask to your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) one or two times a week. "Clay acts like a vacuum and pulls dirt and oil to the surface," explain Arboleda. Experts never recommend picking, but if you're going to do it, use an extraction tool (try Tweezerman Skin Care Tool, $9.50, ulta.com). "The oval shape creates an even pressure that forces the debris up and out," says Dr. Bank.
4. Absorb excess shine
"Oil reflects light and brings more attention to a pore's size," explains Arboleda. Soak up excess sebum with paper blotting sheets or a mattifying cream instead of reapplying a compact powder throughout the day. "Layers of makeup will lead to congestion and breakouts," says Arboleda.
5. Use oil-free products
If you have large pores, avoid cleansers and moisturizers that contain any type of oil, especially mineral oil or petroleum, which can create a clogging film. Skip waterproof and stay-put makeup as well — these formulas tend to be oil-based and aren't easily washed off with a regular cleanser.
Minimize breakouts by washing makeup brushes with a mild shampoo once a month.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2006.