Myth Busted: What Your Parents Never Told You About Oily Pores
Oily pores. By now, that might as well be my middle name. Jessica ‘Oily Pores’ Lu. At the end of the day, you’ll be sure to find my nose with tiny bright speckles. No, those don’t happen to be rhinestones embedded in my nose glands, just my super active oil glands that appeared during puberty. As someone who grew up around people with drier skin, I want to bust the myth that oily pores are abnormal!
There’s so much negative language around oiliness, but hey we can’t help genetics. It is what it is. Here at Mirra, we believe in skin moods. If some of us have a longer oily mood than others, so what?
Now that’s said and done, let’s get into some more myth-busting!
1. Myth: You can reduce the size of your pores
Busted: It’s a crazy thing called genetics man. You’re born with your pore size.
However, our pores are often enlarged and more noticeable when they are oily. If you address the oil, you can “shrink” your pores temporarily, but just know that you can’t technically get rid of them.
2. Myth: Moisturizing makes your skin oilier
Busted: Skipping out on moisturizer can make your skin even oilier than before. It’s called dehydration.
Let me tell you. When I started getting acne, I did whatever I could to dry my skin out, not knowing I was making my skin breakout more! Your sebum glands will chill out when your skin is balanced. Otherwise, your skin will have to overcompensate for the excessive dryness by producing more sebum. Therefore, skip out on the overly drying and astringent products. And don’t over-exfoliate your face. Folks, read the (skin) mood.
Always always moisturize. Don’t be afraid of hyaluronic acid, even if it’s mainly marketed towards those with dry skin. I will say that not all moisturizers are made equally when it comes to oily pores. I would opt for more lightweight lotions and gels instead of heavy creams. This way, your skin can be appropriately hydrated while letting your pores breathe.
3. Myth: Those dots on your nose are automatically blackheads
Busted: Luke, I am a sebaceous filament. (StarWars anyone? No? Okay...)
Sebaceous filaments naturally come with your pores. They are just little pockets of sebum made to keep your skin moisturized (5). Sebaceous filaments do not fall under the acne category.
Essentially, they are harmless even if they are sometimes annoying to look at, especially for oily skin moods. You can never truly get rid of your sebaceous filaments. If you extract them, your body will just replace them with new sebaceous filaments.
What actually causes oily skin
Genetics and age
- You can’t change either. But once you get older, your skin will tend to produce less sebum.
- You know, I’m convinced the term thirst check should be coined to describe dehydrated skin. Don’t let your skin be thirsty! Please moisturize.
Hot and humid environments
- My skin always gets oilier in the summer. Adjust your skin ritual for the changing seasons like a lighter moisturizer in the summer and heavier in the winter.
Diets heavy in red meat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates
- A cleaner diet usually has positive effects on your skin. Dairy and sugar are especially notorious for causing inflammation and encouraging excess sebum production.
The best ingredients for oily pores
Okay okay. I know we’ve been talking about niacinamide a lot lately. Like this b*tch again? Yes. Niacinimide is THAT b*tch. It’s a superpower ingredient that does a whole bunch. In this case, niacinamide can curb sebum overproduction. I know that some skincare lines want to compete for the highest niacinamide concentrations, but honestly, a two percent concentration is all you need for effects to show.
If you think retinol is just for anti-aging, you’re missing out buddy. Retinol speeds up skin cell turnover, which alleviates clogged pores, a common byproduct of oily skin. You might even see finer pore size, as there’s less gunk to enhance your pores. When using retinol, be sure to start small with low concentrations and sizeable periods of time in between uses.
3. Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is THE staple ingredient for oily or acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid is a type of BHA or beta hydroxy acid. It’s great as an exfoliant, breaking down dead skin cells that sit on your face. Oily skin tends to have dead skin cell buildup, so salicylic acid is a nice and non-irritating ingredient to keep your skin fresh.
Skin gritting, Oil Gritting, or Whatchamacallit
So there’s this trend going around TikTok that promises to clean out your pores and get rid of those sebaceous filaments. If you’ve ever seen pictures of skin gritting, there are a lot of black and white “grits” that supposedly come out of your pores.
The method was popularized by Jude Chao. In order to clear out your pores, she swears by using a BHA product, clay mask, and oil cleanser (1). This process demands a lot of wait time and massaging. Reddit, Youtube, and TikTok are exploding with positive feedback on this process
However, when it comes to skin gritting, there’s no real scientific evidence that suggests it works. In fact, some dermatologists are against the trend. Youtube dermatologist Dr. Dray believes that these “grits” are mainly a combination of clay mask residue and some dead skin cells (2). Furthermore, those black particles from Internet pictures are actually too large to be from your pores. The extensive massaging of the face, especially from the clay mask, can even be damaging to the skin by causing microtears (2).
Oily skin is different for everyone. A good tip I’ve learned is that you don’t have to treat your whole face as the same. Take clay masks for example. If only your oily pores are only in the T-zone, focus your clay mask there instead of your entire face. And it’s the same logic for any product.
Be in tune with your oiliness. Does your cleanser make your skin feel too tight afterward? Ditch it and hydrate your skin. Is that moisturizer too suffocating? Find a lighter one.
Written by Jessica Lu