Can you permanently shrink pores and banish blackheads?

December 3, 2019

A few years ago, a dermatologist broke my heart. When we met at a skincare event, he complimented my clear skin but dealt a deathly blow: “you’ve got big pores though,” he said in an unwavering matter-of-fact tone. It was about as backhanded as a gesture could be.

He then told me about a treatment that helps reduce the appearance of pores. The results would last around 3 months, but the procedure involved needles (no, thank you) and I would have a red, puffy face for 48 hours afterwards. Again, no thanks. Not for me.

But I wanted to do something about my pesky pores. Now I’ve graduated from the spotty teenager (and twenty-something) phase, my enlarged pores are the new bane of my life.

And what comes with enlarged pores? Blackheads. By the dozen. There’s no two ways about it – blackheads are a beast.

I remember when I was in the throes of wedding prep, some brutal beauticians would squeeze, scrape and scrub my face clean. Asian beauticians can be hardcore like that. And tricky when they mention skin bleaching products (that’s another story I ranted about here). I think I lost a layer of skin in the process.

Since then I worked up a cleansing regime, which kind of went out of the window after the birth of my daughter. Which was two years ago, by the way.

T-Zone charcoal and bamboo cream wash - can it shrink pores?

Clarol silver and birch exfoliating wash

So my current go-to’s are a metal blackhead remover, T-Zone’s Charcoal and Bamboo facial scrub, and Clarol Silver and Birch Exfoliating Wash.

Suffering for beauty

Now my first weapon of choice (and it literally is a weapon) is brutal.

I learned about the metal blackhead remover when an aforementioned beautician mercilessly extracted my blackheads manually by squeezing them out with this instrument of medieval torture.

But… it works. Yes, each time I use it I have tears in my ears. The pain is almost unbearable. But in times of need – I.e. skincare neglect – it really does the job. The only downside is that sometimes it’s a bit too efficient and breaks the good skin around the pore. So I use the metal blackhead remover sparingly and with caution.

Much more gentle options are the T-Zone Charcoal and Bamboo facial scrub, and the Clarol Silver and Birch Exfoliating Wash. I’ve been reviewing both recently.

T-Zone’s Charcoal and Bamboo scrub is both thorough and kind to my skin. It’s not the astringent spot-fighting treatment of old, but instead sloughs away grossness – including blackheads – gently. It contains a really fine exfoliant in the form of barely visible charcoal flecks. So there’s no sense of abrasion.

The Silver and Birch Exfoliating Wash, by acne skincare brand Clarol, contains birch Birch Bark. This is a natural astringent apparently well used in Russia.

Clarol’s Silver & Birch Exfoliating Wash feels very familiar. It contains rice bran grains and pumice stone, akin to the St Ives scrubs I used in my teenage years, and I can physically feel the grime being scrubbed away. It’s got a medicinal smell to it, but that doesn’t bother me. If I wanted to smell roses, I’d apply perfume.

So while the metal badboy uses brute force, the cleansers leave me squeaky clean.

In search of a long-term solution

Now these are all great… IF you have the time and full function of your faculties.

My problem is, I forget. I forget to cleanse (as gross as that sounds) and as most days I don’t wear makeup, I often wash my face off with water.

So I was wondering if there was a more permanent way of reducing pores and blackheads, that didn’t involve needles.

I decided to consult an expert…

Doctor and skin specialist Dr Rekha Tailor, from Health & Aesthetics, says:

‘Although there are lots of products out there which promise to shrink or reduce the appearance of pores, you can never get rid of your pores completely. They’re an important function of the skin. They house a hair follicle and sebaceous gland and act as a gateway for our skin’s natural oil – sebum – to reach the skin’s surface. You can make pores appear reduced because of the lack of oil in them, but you can never remove them completely.

‘Some people have larger or more obvious pores than others for a number of reasons, such as acne, increased sebum production which results in oily skin, or sun damage.’

So there you have it, I’m stuck with my big pores and blackheads.  I guess I’ll continue with my scrubs and metal remover then.


About the Author


I’m a British-Bengali Muslim mum-of-two. My pictures aren’t filtered and neither are my words. I’m not a makeup artist, chef or lifestyle guru. I’m just me, sharing honest beauty reviews for brown skin, halal restaurant finds, travel inspo, mum life hacks, easy Bengali recipes and more. If that’s your bag, keep reading!

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