Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Do You Have Porexia? June 13, 2011

Thank goodness forThe New York Times because sometimes they just publish the perfect article.  Case in point – the article entitled Do My Pores Look Big to You?.*   One of the biggest complaints estheticians hear from their clients is that the client wants to minimize the appearance of their facial pores.  It turns out that this obsession with one’s facial pores actually has a name – porexia.  The article explains:

Some fret about fine lines and sun spots; others are fixated on pores. High-definition television has arguably upped the ante. Consider the celebrity with glistening teeth and yogic arms, but a jarringly pock-marked nose in close-ups. Viewers think, “If her pores look like that, what do mine look like?” said Dr. Mary Lupo, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine.

Like home renovators who overhaul the kitchen only to then find fault with the master bath, some dermatology patients feel that, once their wrinkles are relaxed and their brown spots treated, their pores stand out. Such is the level of worry that doctors have nicknamed the condition “porexia.”

“There’s a level of obsessiveness,” Dr. Lupo said. “Instead of looking at the global picture, they overfocus on an individual component of the picture.”

It’s not just women who are concerned about large, perpetually clogged pores. Tony Silla, an owner of the Face Place and the head aesthetician at its Los Angeles flagship, said men vent about the craterlike look of enlarged pores more now than when he got into the business 16 years ago. “They don’t want their nose to look like their grandfather’s nose,” he said.

Now for those of you who might have porexia or for those who will admit that they suffer from this condition here are a few things to keep in mind:

Pore size is mostly genetically determined and grows with age, despite the conventional wisdom that only teenagers are swiping their noses with Stridex. The more collagen lost, the looser the pores’ natural support structure becomes, making them great nets for dead skin cells. “Loosening that girdle over time” makes them look bigger, said Dr. Amy Derick, a dermatologist in Barrington, Ill.

And most importantly remember the following:

No matter what marketers might lead the gullible to believe, pores cannot be shrunk permanently. But they can look smaller, temporarily.

Don’t get disheartened by the above statement.  First off there are tons of products on the market that will help minimize the appearance of your facial pores, but before you go investing in such products I want you to ask yourself  the following question:  are my pores really that big or am I obsessing about them needlessly?  There is a reason that I selected the photo above to illustrate this post.  Unless your eye sight is poor please throw out your magnifying mirror – those mirror just make people obsess needlessly about their appearance.  If your pores appear big because you examine them nightly in your magnifying mirror keep in mind that your facial pores probably aren’t large at all.  If you can’t see your facial pores without a magnifying mirror don’t go looking for them.  You’ll only find them because you looked for them.  Keep in mind that no one’s skin can look like the skin on models in cosmetic ads and fashion magazines.  I call those photos – “the tyranny of perfect skin”.  Rarely, rarely does anyone’s skin look like that in real life – including the model’s skin.  They airbrush the hell out of those photos.  I find that many people think they have large pores when they do not so please take a moment to really assess the appearance of your skin.

OK –  so what can you do to minimize the appearance of large pores if you really do have them?  Here are a number of suggestions:

Dr. Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist in Manhattan and Coral Gables, Fla. [says] “Keeping pores cleaned out is going to make them look a lot smaller,” he said.  …

But like exercise, physical exfoliation even once or twice a week can seem an unpleasant task. “Most people surprisingly don’t exfoliate,” Mr. Silla said. “It’s laziness.”

Even the lazy, though, can use a cleanser with salicylic acid or glycolic acid routinely, or get a prescription for a tretinoin like Atralin or Renova, if it doesn’t irritate their skin (causing redness and flakes on top of the pore problem).

Dr. Rendon added that there is another reason to fear sun damage: “It leads to bigger-looking pores,” she said. She recommends daily, year-round use of a sunscreen. If the damage is already done, treatments that aim to stimulate collagen — for instance, intense pulsed light (IPL) and certain lasers or peels — can improve the appearance of pores for 4 to 12 months at most, Dr. Lupo said.

But “it will require constant maintenance,” she warned. Alas: “We have no permanent solution to make pores appear smaller.”

And don’t forget the power of a good make-up primer and powder.  Both will temporarily help minimize the appearance of large pores.  For tips on how make-up can disguise your large pores see my post Large Pores – Can You Shrink Them?.

 Further Reading:

*I’ve actually written about this subject in my past in my blog (see my post Large Pores – Can You Shrink Them?) which included much of the same information that is in The New York Times article, but I loved The New York Times article so much I wanted to write a post about.

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2 Responses to “Do You Have Porexia?”

  1. Kris Says:

    It is always refreshing to read your blog. Lots of references and lots of good sense and always easy to digest. Keep up the good work.


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