Rumor has it that Botox (and other neuromodulators) can temporarily make large pores look smaller, but is there any truth in the claim? It’s effective and a surefire way to get poreless-looking glass skin. We turn to three skin experts for the low down on the treatment and everything you must know.
Pore no more?
Enlarged pores are one of those skin issues that can send you into a tizzy trying everything and anything to shrink them as much as humanly possible. Although their circumference, depth, and visibility are genetically predetermined, a buildup of oil, plus dirt and dead skin cells, within the pores can force them to stretch out, making them look larger than they are. Without dislodging the trapped sebum, the sizes of your pores will, unfortunately, stay in their stretched-out size. But injecting the pores (as long as they are clean) with neurotoxins, like Botox, can dramatically improve their appearance.
Sometimes referred to as mesobotox, or even skin Botox, the idea behind the smooth-as-glass skin phenomenon started in Korea (the birthplace of all good beauty trends). “Over the years, as we’ve injected Botox for dynamic wrinkle reduction, the overlying skin appearance improved more than expected for just wrinkle reduction,” says Dr. David Schafer, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. “As we experimented with more superficial injections of Botox in the skin and not the muscle, we found that we could expand the use of Botox for skin quality as well with control of sebaceous glands,” he adds.
Yes, it’s true. A few shots of a neuromodulator like Botox (or Dysport, Xeomin, or Juveau, for that matter) can reduce the appearance of unsightly and overtly large pores on the surface of the skin. In addition, studies show that using a microdroplet technique (diluted neuromodulator) can improve the skin’s appearance.
The pore purpose
Unbeknownst to many, the pores serve a purpose. Dr. Kenneth R. Beer, a board-certified dermatologist, says our pores allow oil and sweat to exit the skin and typically help the body get rid of extra heat by sweating. The pores are also instrumental in preserving healthy skin since they are an exit point for toxins. In addition, oil (or sebum) is the most significant byproduct of the pores, which is necessary to help lubricate the skin and moisturize it naturally. Tam Lamarre, an aesthetic nurse practitioner at New York City’s SkinSpirit, explains that the pores can appear more prominent when the skin gets oily and tighter when the skin is dry.
According to Dr. Schafer, Botox is a unique treatment that can temporarily neutralize the nerves to the muscle. “Ultimately, using Botox in the T-zone directly targets the muscle-controlling sebaceous glands to help reduce the appearance of pores, as well as lift and tighten the skin,” he says. A similar minimizing effect can be accomplished with certain types of lasers, too. Remember, no matter what you do to improve the pores, there is no permanent fix. “The pores can appear smaller for a while, and you can enhance the overall texture of the skin by sticking to a consistent skincare regimen and getting regular in-office skin treatments, like Botox,” says Dr. Schafer.
How the magical treatment works
One of the main reasons for stretched-out, enlarged pores is trapped oil. “As sebum collects, it can create the look of large pores just by having some buildup,” says Dr. Beer. Sometimes, the pores can appear fuller than others. “However, they can appear small when they are not clogged,” he adds. In addition to Botox to correct enlarged, packed pores, daily cleansing and regular facials are essential to keep the pores as clean as possible.
A few routine superficial injections of a neuromodulator, like Botox, in small amounts, will minimize the contraction of the tiny arrector pili muscles, Lamarre says. “When this muscle contracts, it brings oil to the surface of the skin, but the Botox will decrease muscle contraction, thus reducing oiliness.”
Essentially, injecting neurotoxins into the pore works similarly to when doctors use it to relax wrinkles and lines. However, precision placement is critical to properly treat the small muscles that control the pores’ hair follicles. Common areas that injectors and doctors treat include the forehead and cheeks. “Post-treatment, the forehead is the smoothest area of the face, but the most significant changes will be most visible when oily t-zones shift to normal,” Lamarre explains.
What to expect
Just like how Botox and other neuromodulators take a few days to ‘kick in,’ the same holds for this purpose. Dr. Schafer explains that since the muscles shrink over time with Botox use, lines and wrinkles generally appear less visible, and the skin appears tauter. Following treatment, the results of smoother skin and less visible pores may be seen in about three or four days and typically last upwards of three months. “I recommend returning every three to four months for maintenance,” he says.
Although the pore-minimizing treatment boasts the potential for decreased oil production, too, in some people, that can lead to fewer breakouts. But that’s not the case for everyone. “Injections of toxins are not as good at limiting oil (sebum) as they are for sweat,” says Dr. Beer. “However, some patients notice limited breakouts for a few months as a result.”
When injections aren’t an option
Not everyone is willing or able to undergo injections to get supersmooth skin with nary a trace of a slightly enlarged pore. In those cases, some alternatives are as effective but lack longevity.
If blurred pores are what you’re after, then a thin layer of Benefit’s Porefessional: Lite Primer is a must. This lightweight formula won’t clog pores and bring about breakouts, and it keeps skin looking poreless and perfectly refined for hours on end, thanks to a blend of special pore-reducing powders packed into a water-based formula.
Tone it Up
Toners are like the unsung hero of pore-based skincare: they help tighten enlarged pores while absorbing excess oil on the skin’s surface. Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner relies on mattifying ingredients like bentonite clay and cucumber and witch hazel extracts to reduce the look of pores while also cutting through excessive oil.
Bring the Spa Home
Steam is a long-practiced way of opening the pores for cleansing purposes. Like a mini version of what estheticians use, the Plum Beauty Iconic Facial Steamer is gentle and safe enough to use daily to dislodge whatever is clogging and stretching out the pores.
The Targeted Treatment
Dead skin cells can clog pores and create a larger-than-they-are appearance. That’s why an excellent exfoliating treatment, like Sunday Riley Good Genes, is a must. This lactic acid-based exfoliant refreshes dull-looking skin while removing dead skin cells from the surface in just three minutes flat.
A Perfect Illusion
Powder can create the look of smaller pores by absorbing extra oil on the surface (make sure to remove it after wearing, so it doesn’t clog the pores). It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Translucent Loose Setting Powder provides a natural-looking matte finish to minimize the look of large while looking your makeup perfectly in place.
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