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Make “Pore Moves” with the new Murad Pore Reform Line

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It used to be that women obsessed  primarily about acne, cellulite, and tiny lines and wrinkles — laugh lines, crow’s feet, those two vertical lines between the eyebrows that are colloquially dubbed “the elevens,” and so forth. But, in recent years, our skin care concerns have expanded to include hyperpigmentation and — perhaps most surprisingly — pore size. Nowadays, women are more likely to stare at their reflections in their magnifying mirrors or inspect high-resolution photos of themselves and moan about their pores looking too big. I once had a friend describe her pores as sinkholes; the image of buildings and cars disappearing into those tiny openings on her skin was just so absurd that it had me in stitches.

Now, if you are among the ranks of women who wish they could magically shrink their pores, you first need to understand what makes pores appear larger. First, remember that pores are your friend — they’re tiny openings in the skin through which hair follicles grow and oils are released onto the skin. So what makes some people’s pores appear larger to the naked eye? Well, there are several factors to consider. Genetics play a huge role, meaning some people are just born with larger-looking pores, much in the same way that some folks are predisposed to having dark under eye circles. Another factor: excessive exposure to UVA and UVB rays, which leads to collagen and elastin degradation, a huge problem in the pore department since dermal collagen fibers are responsibly for essentially squeezing the edges of pores together, tightening them and decreasing their overall diameter. But perhaps the most common cause is excess oil and an accumulation of dirt, debris and dead skin cells. These can occur with or without the emergence of blackheads, which are essentially columns of sebum (the skin’s natural oil) stuck within a pore, blocking the hair follicle therein. Dirt, debris, and dead skin cells can exacerbate the problem, making the blockage more severe. In time, the sebum hardens and, when it’s exposed to the air at the skin level, the oxidation caused it to turn black — hence the term “blackhead.” These blackheads can expand pores or simply call more attention to them.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about how to address these issues. Let’s start with one of the latest innovations from Murad, the Murad Pore Reform line, which was developed to help diminish the appearance of pores and eliminate blackheads.

Though the line caters primarily to those with oily and combination skin, I’ve been using these products for quite some time (and my skin is decidedly dry) and have been beyond thrilled with the results. Granted: I don’t have particularly large-looking pores nor do I suffer from blackheads (when I get acne, I get those gnarly, lumpy whiteheads). But still: these products help to unclog pores and exfoliate the skin without drying it out — and that’s something from which all women can benefit.

My absolute favorite product in the new line is the Murad Pore Reform Daily Cleansing Foam ($28 at Murad.com), which I literally used to the last drop. This mild cleanser features a pump dispenser (always fun) that dispenses a frothy foam which, in turn, you smooth onto damp skin using circular motions. The cleanser contains antioxidant-rich pomegranate extract, which protects the skin from free radical damage, extends the life of fibroblasts (cells responsible for collagen and elastin production), and promotes blood circulation (and hence cellular activity); Japanese alder flower extract, which is believed to soothe inflammations and keep skin blemish-free. To remove excess oil, the cleanser relies on witch hazel, which has long been touted for its astringent properties, and copper gluconate, which destroys acne-causing bacteria. To strip away debris and dead skin cells that could potentially clog pores, the cleanser incorporates Alpha Hydroxy Acids that work as exfoliants, essentially resurfacing the skin. Last but not least, this cleanser contains sodium PCA, a natural component of skin with excellent water-binding properties, working as a humectant and leaving skin feeling comfortable and hydrated.

I was a bit nervous about this cleanser since witch hazel tends to be a bit too abrasive on my often dry skin, but I love everything about this product. I adore how light and frothy the foam feels on the face. I swoon over how, after rinsing off the cleanser and patting my skin dry, my complexion still feels comfortable — not itchy, scratchy, or achy. While it does effectively remove dirt and impurities, this cleanser won’t strip your skin of its natural oils but, instead, will help restore it to a healthier pH balance. And here’s the kicker: many of the ingredients in this cleanser have anti-aging benefits — among them pomegranate extract and AHAs.

The next step in the Murad Pore Reform skin regimen would be to apply the Murad Pore Reform Balancing Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($35 at Murad.com). Again, I tend to have dry skin — though, around that time of the month, my skin can go on overdrive and start producing too much oil — so I was concerned that this moisturizer would leave my skin parched. But nothing could be further from the truth. None of the ingredients in the formula are actually drying in and of themselves, so it’s not like you’re slathering salicylic acid on your visage.

This lightweight moisturizer’s formula includes Japanese alder flower extract, which helps to prevent blackheads from forming but also has soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits. It also features microscopic spheres containing vitamins A, C, and E to encourage cellular turnover. This process allows the skin to exfoliate naturally, removing excess dirt, oil and debris, while also stimulating collagen and elastin production and revealing more supple, smooth, radiant skin. By stimulating cellular turnover, then, this moisturizer both balances oily skin and makes skin appear youthful and taut. Lactic acid, a natural alpha hydroxy acid, will also promote cellular turnover but it will also have the added benefit of hydrating skin and increasing its natural ceramides, fortifying the skin’s epidermal barrier and protecting skin from moisture loss. Lactic acid is often used in anti-aging formulations so, again, it will prove beneficial to women of all skin types. Yeast amino acids will also hydrate the skin without clogging pores.

The Pore Reform Balancing Moisturizer is readily absorbed by the skin and, since it doesn’t contain potentially irritating ingredients like glycolic acid (common in so many products for oily and combination skin), it can actually benefit women of all skin types.

Next, as a treatment, you can use the Murad Pore Reform T-Zone Pore Refining Serum ($42 at Murad.com). You’ll ideally want to use this treatment in the evening, before applying your night cream of choice since it contains retinol. Why does that matter? Well, because retinol encourages cellular turnover, a wonderful thing, but, in doing so, it exposes a more delicate layer of skin that can be easily harmed with exposure to the sun. The clear serum has a slightly sticky texture and a very strong smell, plus it can trigger a slight tingling sensation, so it takes a few uses to become accustomed to it being a part of your skincare routine. That said, it’s readily absorbed by the skin so the sensation only lasts a few seconds.

What is in the serum? Well, it contains both glycolic acid and salicylic acid to exfoliate dull surface skin cells, clear pores, and remove any existing imperfections (be they blackheads or white heads). A natural alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid works as an exfoliant and therefore it can remove the appearance of blemishes, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, and soften and smooth skin. It penetrates the skin rather easily, but it can also cause irritation, so I’m always a bit leery when using a cream containing salicylic acid. I’m happy to say that I didn’t have any type of adverse reaction to this serum, which makes me vouch for it that much more vociferously. Salicylic acid, meanwhile, is one of the most common ingredients in acne-fighting products so its inclusion in this serum should be clear: to zap acne-causing bacteria, fight existing acne, reveal clearer skin, and make pores appear smaller (after all, by eliminating blackheads,which can stretch out pores, you’ll be half way to the finish line).

This treatment’s formula also includes pomegranate extract to defend skin from free radicals; soothing aloe extract; evening primrose oil, which contains omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants that boost circulation, hydrate the skin, and reduce inflammation; rice amino acids to strengthen the epidermal barrier; grape seed extract, a natural source of resveratrol, which boasts anti-aging properties; and glycerin, a natural humectant.

Ideally, you should apply this serum to your T-Zone —which is comprised of your forehead, nose, upper lip, and chin — since these areas are most likely to feature congested pores and have an excessive concentration of sebum. After the serum has been completely absorbed by your skin, make sure to apply a night cream — otherwise, your skin might try to overcompensate by producing more oil (this often happens when people use glycolic acid peels or treatments without applying a moisturizer ).

In the morning, you should notice a significant different in both the appearance and texture of your skin. Even if your pores aren’t particularly enlarged or oily, you’ll benefit from the anti-aging benefits of this product: the way it triggers cellular turnover, how it helps skin attain its optimal pH balance; the way it makes skin appear smoother and more luminous, and how it diminishes the appearance of blemishes, age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.

As it turns out, the Murad Pore Reform line, then, can tighten pores and mattify skin while also causing powerful anti-aging effects.

 

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