For most of us, the pimply phase passes with our youth, but pronounced pores stay with us forever and, cruelly, they can enlarge and appear more obvious with age.
They can manifest as open pores into which moisturiser or make-up settles, making the complexion look patchy and even slimy. Worse, open pores get clogged, and the temptation to squeeze them -- like those pimples of our youth -- can sometimes be hard to resist. But resist one should. Thin, fragile Irish skin is particularly prone to broken capillaries, and poking roughly at it will only turn a minor complexion complaint into something worse.
Regular exfoliation will go some way to minimising the appearance of open pores. However, particularly in winter, when we use heavier creams and skin can get sluggish, a griminess can descend. We tried many products that aimed either to improve the look of enlarged pores immediately or tighten them in the longer term. These are the best of those we tried, and, while the favourite masks softened blocked pores to the point that we were tempted to poke at them, we resisted. Well, mostly.
Payot Masque Clarifiant, €31.90, selected salons nationwide, for further information, tel: (01) 822-2711
A classic mask from a skincare brand and well-respected European line that is starting to make an impression here. Pale pink in colour, it's made up of absorbent clays that trap impurities and makes pores seem smaller and tighter. Skin was soft and not overly dry after use, and it is gentle enough for even the most sensitive souls. "A nice smell, and a nice result -- a bit like the way my T-zone of open pores looks after a good facial," said one panellist. "Used before bed, my skin looked very clear the next morning."
Best Ongoing Action
Clarins Pore Minimising Serum, €27.50, Clarins counters nationwide
This little bottle of fruit-acid-based serum is a treatment rather than a quick fix, promising particularly good results on the nose, where a lot of people find their pores look grubby, even if the rest of their complexion is clear. "My nose can either be slippery with oil, or really dry and scaly, but always blackheady," a panellist said. "This sort of balanced it and made my make-up go on more cleanly."
Best Covering Up
Benefit The Porefessional, €33.50, Brown Thomas and Debenhams nationwide; Clerys, Arnotts; larger Boots; selected pharmacies
This paste is a pale cream colour and it goes on to conceal open pores. The texture resembles a make-up primer and feels silky, although it is oil-free. It provides a good base for those who find that foundation sinks into their pores. "A nice, fast fix," said a panellist. "It definitely creates a smooth surface where once were small craters, though it won't make any long-term difference."
Best Tightening Treat
Yves Saint Laurent Top Secrets Pore Refining Skincare Brush, €48, Yves Saint Laurent counters nationwide
Another product that functions as a make-up base more than a skincare product, though it also produces a pore-tightening and shrinking effect. We loved the wide twist-up brush that allows you to paint on the product. "Smells lovely, feels lovely and it definitely made my skin that bit more refined," one panellist said. "A nice hygienic applicator, too."
Best Softening Effect
Dr Hauschka Rejuvenating Mask, €30.60, selected department stores, health stores and pharmacies nationwide
Suited to dry or sensitive skin types, this creamy mask claims to address issues ranging from reddened and sensitised, through to dried-out, or open-pored dull skin. With that typical earthy Dr Hauschka fragrance, and a texture that does not harden on the face, it's the comforting option. "My mucky pores were softened and, to be honest, I only did a tiny bit of bothering them afterwards," said a panellist. "And, overall it seemed to even out my skin."
Pictured, from left: Payot Masque Clarifiant; Benefit The Porefessional; Yves Saint Laurent Top Secrets Pore Refining Skincare Brush; Dr Hauschka Rejuvenating Mask; Clarins Pore Minimising Serum
Sunday Indo Life Magazine