Only a few years ago, primers were somewhat of a novelty. Since then, we've had BB creams, CC creams and even DD creams, so it's somewhat of a relief to find that certain brands are going back to basics with products specifically designed to minimise pores without offering the multitude of other benefits we often don't actually need.
Let's start with a quick lesson on pores. Pores contain sebaceous glands, which produce the skin's oils. Pores on the nose and forehead tend to be larger, because the glands in these areas are larger. The good news? "In cold and damp weather, the skin on the face tightens," says the Body Shop's International make up artist, Chase Aston. "This is usually due to both the dry air and central heating. For this reason, pores should be easier to cover up, as long as you use the correct moisturiser, pore minimiser, primer and foundation."
However, despite the fact that enlarged pores often become more of a problem in warmer weather, the tendency to boost dull, winter complexions with thicker foundation or bronzer can highlight even the smallest pores. Additionally, fluctuations in temperature, such as going from the cold outdoors into a centrally-heated home, can also increase sebum production, which is one of the major causes of enlarged pores.
For these reasons, winter is a great time to invest in a good quality pore-minimiser. Pore minimisers work by either blurring the surface of the skin or tightening and temporarily shrinking the pores, thus creating a smoother surface for make up. This latter point is especially important because when pores are enlarged, it's easy to overcompensate by piling on the concealer or foundation, which will only enhance pores and lead to more problems by clogging the skin.
Another common mistake is the use of heavy fake tan or light-reflecting ingredients, which will also only highlight enlarged pores. Instead, avoid full coverage foundation, bronzing powders and shimmer. Opt for sheer translucent foundation formats and mineral-based powder foundations which won't clog the skin and which can be buffed into the complexion to create an even, flawless finish.
When choosing pore minimisers, there are a few key ingredients worth looking out for. "Witch hazel, rose water, apple cider vinegar, green tea, tea tree and mint are commonly found in both synthetic and natural remedy pore-minimising products, and will help to reduce the visibility of large pores while ensuring that the skin is cleansed, toned and moisturised," says Chase Aston.
Additionally, don't be put off by ingredients which sound slightly scary. "Other key ingredients in pore-minimising products include Aplha/Beta Hydroxyl Acids," says Chase Aston. "Vitamin A ensures skin appears smooth and even and helps to avoid clogged pores and Azelaic Acid is also used in some formats as a key ingredient as it helps to fight bacteria, which is one of the main causes of large pores devolving into acne."
If you suffer from enlarged pores, thoroughly cleansing the skin becomes even more important, because dirt is more likely to get trapped within the pores, where it can cause infection and lead to blackheads. Exfoliation is equally important, because it removes the dead skin cells, which can enlarge pores.
If you exercise regularly, ensure you cleanse the skin both before and after working out, because sweat can carry debris into the pores and cause them to swell.
Reducing alcohol intake and exposure to harmful rays can help to minimise pores, and always wear SPF, even in the winter. Sunlight doesn't just prematurely age our skin - it can also break down the collagen which helps to support the pores.
Lancome's brand new Visionnaire Blur (£40) has only just gone on sale, but it's pore-minimising qualities are making it this winter's must-have beauty product.
Urban Decay's Pore Perfecting Complexion Primer Potion (£19) is a classic product no make up bag should be without.
The Body Shop's Seaweed Pore Cleansing Exfoliatior (£9) is a clever piece of kit which draws out impurities and significantly reduces the size of pores.
skyn ICELAND's Pure Pore Minimiser (£25) helps to minimise pores and leaves skin silky soft.
Aveda's Tourmaline Charged Radiance Masque (£29) helps to create an even complexion by smoothing skin and minimising pores, while its radiance-boosting qualities make it perfect for the colder months.
The Body Shop's Tea Tree Pore Minimiser (£7.50) mattifies and smoothes skin while tea tree helps to keep pores fresh and clean.