#AskYourDermatologist: Q&A with Dr. Nikki Paderna on Combination Skin & Pores

Updated: 4 days ago


‘Fess up! I’m sure every one of us is guilty of trawling the Internet more often than once in search of skincare tips. From ‘how to reduce pores’ or even ‘finding the right products for combination skin’, you’re likely to find a variety of answers that claim to refine your skin. To set the record straight, we chat with PDS Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Nikki Paderna, to hear her expert advice on some of the most-asked skincare questions from our followers.


Q1: Can pore size be really reduced?


Dr. Paderna: "Pore size cannot be reduced but their appearance can be minimized and some skincare or treatments can prevent them from enlarging further. Their size and structure are dictated by a lot of factors which include excessive sebum production by oil glands, decreased elasticity around the pores, increased hair follicle volume, genetic predisposition, chronic or recurrent acne, and sex hormones."


Q2: Can pore strips damage your skin?


Dr. Paderna: "Yes, they do. I consider pore strips as a form of physical exfoliation because they can remove the topmost layer of your skin and can cause irritation and damage like redness or flakiness. Aside from that, the ingredients and adhesive found in pore strips may cause a reaction to anyone who is allergic to them. There are also skin conditions that are not tolerant of them like, rosacea, eczema, inflammatory acne, etc."


Q3: How often should pore strips be used?


Dr. Paderna: "I don’t recommend relying on pore strips because they only work temporarily in removing blackheads. When you unclog a pore via a nose strip, it remains open and exposed to bacteria, dirt, and oil, and it easily gets clogged again soon afterward. I would rather you invest in skincare that would minimize and refine pores. Pore strips are also not for everybody but they can mostly be used by oily or normal skin types with at least once a week use. Using them frequently will only lead to irritated and inflamed skin."


Q4: How do pore minimizers work?


"Just to make things clear, pores cannot shrink in size and the goal of 'pore minimizers' is to target the underlying cause of enlarged pores," said Dr. Paderna, PDS Certified Dermatologist

"Some pore minimizers would deal with the excess oil production of the skin, some are capable of penetrating deep into the pores to unclog them, others would regularly help exfoliate the skin to prevent dead skin cells from building up, some would prevent loss of skin elasticity and others increase the rate of cell turnover. Since there are different factors that play a role in the appearance of pores, it is best to find the most likely cause/s to be able to address them."


Q5: When to apply pore minimizers?


Dr. Paderna: "'Pore minimizing' products added in a skincare routine may be in the form of cleansers, toners, serums, emulsions, and creams. How to use them frequently depends on the ingredient present. Some may be used every day while others may cause irritation if frequently used and should be cautiously applied."


Q6: Which pore minimizer is the best?


Dr. Paderna: "I usually prescribe products with pore-minimizing ingredients in a number of skincare steps.

  • Salicylic acid can unclog pores;

  • Other hydroxy acids like glycolic acid, malic acid, etc. help remove dead skin cells to prevent them from filling up the pores;

  • Niacinamide will help prevent acne by reducing sebum production;

  • Topical retinoids can also reduce sebum production, increase the cellular turnover of the skin, and prevent skin from sagging.

Lastly, sunscreen is needed in the morning as a preventive measure to help reduce the loss of skin elasticity and therefore, skin aging from UV radiation produced by the sun."


Q7: What is combination skin?


Dr. Paderna: "A combination skin type means that their skin is oily in certain areas of the face, most likely the forehead, nose, and chin while the rest can be either normal or dry. There may be the presence of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples on the oily areas of the face while dry patches of skin can be spotted elsewhere."


Q8: How often should we exfoliate combination skin?


Dr. Paderna: "Exfoliation has a lot of benefits to the skin. Ideally, it should be done once to thrice a week depending on how much your skin can tolerate it. However, whatever your skin type is, it is best for those who are new to this skincare step not to overdo it at the beginning. Start with exfoliating once a week at first, then gradually build up the frequency every month or so to let your skin get used to the active ingredient while taking note of side effects such as peeling, redness, tenderness, and more acne or oil production. These are the signs that the skin barrier could be damaged due to over-exfoliation."


Q9: How to treat combination skin? How often to moisturize combination skin?

Dr. Paderna: "Skin concerns related to combination skin are mostly about acne and dry skin. The key to treating this skin type is to manage the oily or acne-prone areas of the face differently from the dry or normal areas. To start off, a pH-balanced cleanser is important for a healthy skin barrier. Then, oil-controlling skincare is needed for the oily areas while still keeping the skin’s oil-water balance healthy. Twice a day application of a suitable moisturizer is enough for a combination skin type. Using a gel-based moisturizer or thin emulsions that can be easily absorbed by oily skin is ideal. As for the dry parts of the face, layering hydrating products depends on how dry the skin is. The drier the skin is, the more emollient and creamy the moisturizer should be."

We’re extremely heartened to hear from Dr. Nikki Paderna, and we hope she has cleared up some of your burning questions around pores and combination skin. If you’re looking to improve your complexion, always remember it’s important to start on a clean slate. With combination skin, daily essentials like the pH-balanced Glow Renew Moist Cleanser and Glow Renew Essence Toner with Green Tea and Niacinamide will help keep you fresh. You can then opt for a pore minimizer like the Ultra Pore Refiner. With ingredients like Niacinamide and Glycolic Acid in the Ultra Pore Refiner to help regulate oil production, you can keep your pores clear of pore-clogging sebum while targeting post-blemish dark spots.

To read more about Dr. Nikki Paderna, visit her personal blog here.



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As featured in Her World, CLEO, FEMALE, Shape, Nuyou, Singapore Women’s Weekly, Daily Vanity, Layers of Skins.