Remember that time you looked at your face in a 10X magnifying mirror and screamed so loud, your neighbor thought someone had broken into your apartment? Those little craters in your skin have a name—pores—and they're not nearly as scary as they look close-up. But if you're chasing perfect, airbrush-level skin for your wedding day (and who isn't?), clear, tight pores are your secret weapon. We talked to Miami-based dermatologist Fredric Brandt, whose magic touch has kept A-listers like Stephanie Seymour, Kelly Ripa, and Madonna looking impossibly glowy and radiant. His popular 'Pores No More' Pore Refiner Primer is a quick way to make your face look smoother and more matte, but he's also giving us the scoop on how to get healthy, smooth skin without makeup. Take his advice, and thank us when your wedding proofs come in!
Brides: We're always hearing about products that promise to "shrink your pores." Is there really such thing as large pores?
Dr. Fredric Brandt: Unfortunately, large pores aren't just a myth. When your pores are clogged with sebum (which can lead to breakouts) and dead skin cells, they can appear larger. Plus, as we age, the collagen in our skin becomes less dense, causing pores to expand.
See More: Genius Pre-Wedding Skin Fixes
Brides: How do they get clogged up?
FB: Dead skin cells can accumulate in skin follicles and cause your pores to clog. Inflammation can also cause the opening of your pores to swell, then block up, leading to breakouts—so stop over-scrubbing your face or trying to pop blackheads!
Brides: So face scrubs aren't the best fix for clogged pores?
FB: Believe it or not, harsh scrubs are not the answer. Instead, keep your pores clear with skincare's secret weapon: retinol, which speeds up your cell turnover rate and removes dead skin. Salicylic acid, found in clarifying cleansers, toners, and gels, dissolves sebum trapped in pores.
Brides: How about lifestyle changes? Anything we can stop eating or start doing to clear up our skin?
FB: Cleansing your skin thoroughly at night will help keep pores unblocked. For long-term results, try a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, like salmon, whole grains and leafy greens.
See More: 5 Foods or Gorgeous, Wedding-Ready Skin
Brides: How can a bride-to-be create the illusion of tighter pores in photos, using skincare products and makeup?
FB: My patients, especially brides-to-be, come in and they all want flawless skin. In-office treatments can be extremely effective. In my practice, we often administer salicylic acid peels to clean pores out and exfoliate the skin. Lasers are another great way to increase cell turnover: I use Clear and Brilliant lasers to help stimulate collagen production and remove dead skin cells off the surface. At home, I recommend a microdermabrasion, like Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant. And, of course, there's nothing like faking perfect pores on your wedding day with my 'Pores No More' Pore Refiner Primer. For the day of, it's a genius temporary fix: It tightens pores, cleans out sebum, and fills in every tiny hole for a perfectly smooth pre-makeup canvas.
Brides: Let's say a bride-to-be is cruising the skincare aisle for pore-tightening products. What ingredients should she look out for?
FB: Salicylic acid, flaxseed oil and tea tree oil are all effective ingredients in unclogging pores and reducing the appearance of large pores. I also recommend using a skin brush, like the Clarisonic, a few times a week for a deep cleanse and exfoliation.