Celebrities — they're just like us, right? Not really . . . but at least their skincare concerns are. Crystal Koro, a celebrity esthetician and founder of Crystal Clear Skin & Beauty in LA, who has worked with Olivia Culpo, Mel B, and even gave Kylie Jenner her first facial, is privy to some top-notch insider requests, but do you know what the number one skincare concern is that she's asked about? Pores. (Maybe celebrities are more like us than we thought.)
"I get so many questions about blackheads or how they can shrink [their] pores," said Koro, "They're coming to me concerned about their blackheads. And realistically, you can't really shrink your pores." Much to our disappointment, it's a myth that pores open and close with steam or hot water — your pores are one size and stay that size.
Which leads us to wonder, are smaller pores just a pipe dream? Keep reading to hear her tips — that actually work — for addressing large pores.
The Truth About "Pore-Shrinking" or "Blackhead-Removing" Products
"I wish there was one miracle product that could remove pores," said Koro, but said mystical, magical product doesn't exist — yet (she hopes to be the one to make it one day). Koro gets asked all the time if peel-off masks or nose strips help remove blackheads.
"The answer is no," she said. "However, walking around with blackheads doesn't really have to be anyone's reality either."
Her Go-To Treatment for Blackheads — and What You Can Do at Home
The key to unclogging pores and getting rid of blackheads? Good old chemical exfoliation. "There are products that you can use to help emulsify and clean out your pores," Koro said. "In my treatment room, I like to use salicylic and glycolic acid a lot. They're both amazing ingredients, and they help to keep your pores clean."
Chemical exfoliation — which uses acids to help exfoliate the surface of your skin to remove dead skill cells, oil, and debris — is not only the key to deep-cleaning your pores, but also achieving a radiant, glowing complexion. "Keep in mind, you have to remove that dead skin so that your serums and your moisturizers can actually penetrate through, versus just sitting on top of a bed of dead skin."
The Proper Way to Exfoliate Your Face
According to Koro, most people aren't exfoliating their skin properly, which leads to a buildup of dead skin and oil on the skin's surface, and voilà, clogged pores.
"A lot of people don't know that using these acids is a form of exfoliating," said Koro. "They think they need a physical scrub." And while scrubs are great for addressing uneven texture in the skin, she explained that scrubs are not going to address blackheads.
To address the actual gunk in your pores, you need something "spicy" — that's what Koro calls chemical exfoliators. "Those wonderful acids are really emulsifying all that buildup that we have in our pores, she said. "So, the minute someone feels something spicy, they automatically confuse it for irritation or an allergic reaction, but really, it's not. Think of it as giving your skin a good workout."
Depending on your skin type and its unique sensitivity, Koro recommended using a gentle chemical exfoliator two to three times a week to see results. If you're looking for "spicy" product recommendations, she shared a few ahead.
Her Favorite Over-the-Counter Chemical Exfoliators
While Koro recommended getting a monthly facial to keep your skin clear and looking its best, you can — and should — exfoliate at home with over-the-counter chemical exfoliators. "Most of my clients' favorite is the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel ($23-$198)," said Koro. "I also like the Sanitas Skincare Brightening Peel Pads ($74) and SkinBetter AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads ($95), but there are so many other companies that have them."
These one-and-done peel pads allow you to chemically exfoliate by swiping the acid-soaked pad over your face to deliver the potent ingredients. "They really do help reduce the oil production, which prevents clogged pores from happening."