Glow Academy: Clear and refine pores

Each of us has our own unique skin goals, the checkpoints on our ‘ultimate glow’ mood boards that we’re working towards. With such a diverse range of what we all want from our skin, no two people’s aims are necessarily going to be the same. We know that often deciding where to work backwards from when you’ve got the end of the journey in sight can be an overwhelming prospect. To help out, we thought we’d pull together some of the goals we hear most commonly from our Tropic community and guide you through those first steps on the journey to your dazzling destination. Welcome to Glow Academy...

Bringing your skin tone into balance for that all-round even glow can feel like the Holy Grail of skincare goals sometimes. One thing you might have dealt with in your search for equilibrium? ENLARGED PORES. If we’re being pore-fectly honest, this blog is really one to give you pores for thoughts, so please pay attention to each im-pore-tant detail. We’ll see ourselves out...


Ah, our poor pores. We have to clear their name first of all – over the years, they seem to have been blamed for a plethora of skin concerns, with many people under the misapprehension that they should be visible by microscope alone. In actuality, they’re an integral part of letting your skin breathe, sitting atop every hair follicle in the epidermis to allow your body’s natural oils (sebum) an escape route to the skin’s surface, where they keep it moisturised and healthy.

When it comes to size, there’s no magic wand you can wave to suddenly have pinprick pores. They’re a genetic part of you that won’t get any smaller, and any products which claim they’ll ‘shrink’ or ‘get rid of’ pores should always be taken with a generous pinch of salt. But if you’re not happy with your larger pores, all hope isn’t lost! We’re able to influence their appearance so they’re less noticeable and take preventative measures to avoid them from getting any larger. 


This one’s pretty simple. Besides the genetic factors at play, the main cause of a visible enlargement in pores is clogging. When excess sebum (generally produced by those with naturally oily skin) ends up mixing with dead skin cells within the pore, it blocks the path of the oils below to the skin’s surface. The visible effect is a widening of the pore.

That’s where the stubbornly persistent blackhead enters the story. Arising when the melanin in the trapped sebum oxidises and turns black, these are often found on the nose where pores are naturally largest. 

You might also notice a visible widening of pores as skin matures and your years of sun exposure increase, as these both result in a loss of collagen and decreased elasticity in the skin. When it loses firmness, your tissues then pull at the edges of pores and make them appear larger.


The advice is much the same as that we’d give someone with an oily skin type – because if you’re seeing the results of enlarged pores, it’s very likely that’s what you have. Let’s get started...

  • Show those clog-happy dead skin cells the door by opting in on exfoliation twice a week. With choices in abundance from manual scrubs to chemical options (powered by gentle hydroxy acids and more suitable for those with sensitive skin), no skincare collection should be without an exfoliator to sweep away the buildup of dead cells and lay the foundations for the rest of your routine to nourish the fresh, smooth skin beneath.
  • Alternate between two key ways of mopping up any excess sebum, one considerably more glamorous than the other. First up, blotting papers. These quick fixes are your ‘out and about’ options, helping to keep your shine at a minimum when used to pat away oil. Then for a luxurious change of pace, indulge in a clay face mask two to three times a week. We recommend spa-ready selections that feature Kaolin clay, an oil-absorbing maestro
  • To care for pores from the inside out, never underestimate the power of staying hydrated with good, old-fashioned glass of water. Keep a bottle with you on the go and aim to drink the equivalent of eight glasses a day, as this helps to flush out toxins and balance skin’s oiliness, preventing buildup in your pores.
  • Stay sun-safe year round (yes, even when that February frost is hitting) by applying a broad-spectrum mineral SPF every morning as the last step in your skincare routine. This helps protect pores from the distorting damage of UVA and UVB rays.
  • After a long day, we know the temptation to just do a trust fall backwards onto our bed and let sleep take hold. So without trying to sound like your mum, remember to always remove makeup before you wind down for the evening, otherwise it’s merely another layer over skin to potentially contribute to clogging. Our top tip? Leave a cleanser right next to your toothbrush so that the au naturel look is just a reach away!


Look out for skincare which features..

Niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) – One of the chameleons of the skincare world, this versatile favourite keeps skin on track by regulating oil production to avoid pore-widening breakouts.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) – Don’t let the ‘acid’ part fool you, these gentle options are must-haves for pore refinement. While AHAs smooth out your skin’s surface, BHAs are hard at work penetrating deeply into pores to clear out dead skin cells.

Marine fulvic acid – This exfoliant helps to break down the dead skin cells blocking pores in order to encourage skin cell renewal and leave your complexion looking fresh and bright.


Can dry skin cause large pores? Even though the link is frequently made between enlarged pores and oily skin, it’s perfectly possible to have them whatever your skin type. The flaky texture of dry skin is often what ends up causing clogging, and while our advice would largely stay the same, we’d recommend switching things up from our earlier suggestions by opting for a heavier moisturiser and steering clear of clay masks.

Does ice close pores? If anything was capable of closing pores, we’d have a medical mystery on our hands! However, ice can help to tighten them if applied for around 15 seconds after you’ve cleansed. Plus, if you’re doing it in the morning, it’s an instant refresher to chase away post-alarm clock grogginess.

Do pores open with warm water? Hands up – who’s spent an evening leaning over a bowl of steamy water fresh from the kettle in the name of ‘open pores’? Just as pores can’t suddenly seal up, there’s no way to make them any more ‘open’ but when steam hits the debris that’s clogging your pores, it can have a loosening effect that preps it to be cleared away while cleansing and exfoliating.

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