Sunscreen: The Paradoxical Pore-Shrinker

sunscreen pores

It’s safe to say that just about everyone detests large pores. No man or woman ever looked into a mirror and said, Geeze, if only my pores were a little bigger, that would be pretty awesome. So we try cleansers and scrubs and treatments that promise to fix this ceaseless issue, until we resolve in great defeat that big pores just come with older age, or that we were genetically predisposed to them. Although scrubs and treatments can offer temporary help, it’s time to look at a long-term fix. Ready for a shocker?


Sunscreen? You probably think I’m crazy. You’re also probably thinking, I can’t wear sunscreen every day; it would make my skin look greasy and heavy under makeup, and probably enlarge my pores! I know so many people that avoid wearing sunscreen like the plague from this misconception. The truth is, when daily using the right sunscreen for your skin, it can actually SHRINK your pores!

(Now, “shrinking pores” is used loosely, nothing can actually “shrink” your pores, but rather your pores can be restored to their tighter, natural state.)

Here’s why: when your skin exposes itself to the sun a-la-natural (no sunscreen), the harmful UV rays penetrate deep into the dermal layer of your skin, which contains a matrix of collagen and elastin (this is the part of your skin that keeps your skin tight and lifted!). When these UV rays seep into this layer, it causes damage to the matrix, and in turn loosens the skin and dilates the pores. This is why you will notice bigger pores after a sunburn.

When your skin is clad in sunscreen, the sunscreen works as a blockade from the sun’s harmful entrance, and inhibits the rays from bearing any effect on the inner dermal layer. In turn, your skin remains tight and the pores remain closed.

My recommendation, and what I use everyday, is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunblock, SPF 70. When I wear makeup over it, this acts as a primer and is easy to breathe in. I also find that it makes my skin softer and almost seems to smooth over my pores. It’s fragrance free, and will not irritate sensitive skin. For rosacea, choose the oil free equivalent.

There are countless benefits to daily sunscreen use for all types of skin – especially rosacea sufferers! Remember it’s never too late to start wearing sunscreen and de-activating your dilated pores, so there’s no need for a defeated ‘thanks-mother-nature’ attitude! ;)

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  • Reply
    Kathy Burke
    March 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    This sunscreen Ashley recommends is on sale at Ulta right now- buy one get one 50% off. Search retailmenot for $3.50 off coupon (or the ulta flyer in postal mail!) and get an even better deal! :)

  • Reply
    March 5, 2013 at 3:25 am

    What is your opinion on picking at blackheads and whiteheads?

    • Reply
      March 5, 2013 at 4:28 am

      I would say definitely avoid it. When you pick at them, your skin becomes torn and leaves scarring (sometimes permanent!) behind. Also, the bacteria that collects on your hands can get into the lesions you touch, which will end up in a prolonged pimple and unwanted inflammation. For white heads, dip a needle in alcohol (sterilization) and puncture only the very center; collect the puss by dabbing with wet tissue or napkin, and hold the tissue there until all bleeding and/or puss stops. For blackheads try a face scrub with salicylic acid, as the acid will draw out the oxidized oil. :)

  • Reply
    Rachel Wohl
    March 5, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Does the Cetaphil moisturizer with SPF 15 that you recommended do the trick for sunscreen for the day (I also use a mineral foundation with SPP 15)?

    • Reply
      March 5, 2013 at 4:17 am

      The Cetaphil is good for on-the-run protection and for sun exposure like getting out of the car, walking here and there, etc, but I believe that fairer skin (like mine!) needs more concentrated sunscreen content with a higher SPF than diluted with a moisturizer. If you have time, I would put the sunscreen on, especially if there’s a chance you’ll be out in the sun for more than 10 minutes, but if you have minimal sun exposure the cetaphil will work fine :)

      p.s: love hearing from you/miss you/so happy for you!!

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