If you have skin, you have pores. And they’re not just there to look pretty — pores have the important job of producing oil to keep your skin soft and moisturized, producing sweat to help you cool down, and housing your hair follicles. Pores range in size, and some people might have larger pores than others.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth is that you can’t shrink pores permanently; your pore size is genetic — based on how your sebaceous glands are made — so you can’t change its structure.
You can, however, make your pores appear smaller with good skincare practices that keep them as tiny as possible. Plus, a pore-friendly skincare routine can help keep them free of gunk and help them focus on what they do best: taking care of your skin.
Read on to discover all you need to know about pores, including five helpful methods to help keep them happy.
What Are Pores?
Simply put, pores are small openings in the skin’s surface. They connect to your hair follicles, which also contain sweat glands and sebaceous oil. These itty-bitty openings allow natural oil — called sebum — to reach your skin’s surface and lubricate it, helping to keep it moisturized and healthy. They also release sweat.
What Causes Large Pores?
Your pores can become especially large in size if your sebaceous glands overproduce sebum, which can quickly manifest into oily skin. Although this natural oil behaves as a natural moisturizer for the skin, it can be a big nuisance when produced in excess. If you’re one of the many individuals with naturally oilier skin, your excessive sebum is more likely to weigh down on your pores, causing them to be more noticeable.
Additionally, daily impurities can build up on the skin’s surface and may sink into your pores and get trapped there. Examples include:
- Makeup or makeup residue
- Dead skin cells
Where you live can impact your skin, too. Dry environments, extreme heat, or even sun damage are notoriously known to make pores appear enlarged. When skin gets thirsty and dehydrated, the oil glands can kick sebum production up a notch to compensate, which can be problematic, to say the least. That said, here are a few other factors that can contribute to enlarged pores:
- Genetics. We’ve touched on genetics briefly, but we’ll quickly go over it again because, truth be told, pore size is largely determined by genetics. So if your parents have pretty noticeable pores, there’s a good chance that you’ll have them too.
- Aging. Elastin and collagen (aka “the building blocks of the skin”) are essential proteins that provide structural support for your pores. As we get older, however, the body’s ability to produce elastin and collagen slows down, which, unfortunately, allows the pores to widen.
- Hormonal changes. When hormonal changes strike during puberty, sebaceous glands tend to produce more oil, which can cause pores to become more visible. Those going through menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause may also notice that their pore size changes.
How Can You Reduce the Appearance of Pores?
Now that you understand the importance of pores and how it’s impossible to get rid of them completely, let’s go over how you can reduce their appearance. Although there are many things that you can do, here are our favorite methods to shrink pores:
1. Remove Dead Skin
Buffing away dead skin cells via exfoliation is of the utmost importance to keep your pores from getting congested. Pores that are free and clear of blackheads and other blockages will look less obvious. Your skin’s surface will also look brighter, smoother, and more even.
Common facial exfoliants include:
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) — like glycolic acid — exfoliate the top layer of skin and are ideal for those with sensitive or dry skin types.
- Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) — like salicylic acid — penetrate deep into the skin’s surface and work wonders for those with oilier skin.
- Chemical peels contain various types of acids that work together to remove damaged skin cells, treat wrinkles, reduce hyperpigmentation, and clean clogged pores.
2. Take a Probiotic
Probiotics can boost the production of peptides, collagen, and ceramides in the skin, ultimately increasing its elasticity. As a result, you may notice that fine lines, wrinkles, and pores are less visible. So, if you’re on a mission to obtain healthy skin, consider taking a probiotic like Clear Skin Probiotics.
Clinically tested to reduce acne† and support your gut-skin connection,* our doctor-developed formula contains clinically tested strains of bacteria that support clear skin and healthy pores. Simply take one capsule a day to help reduce acne† flares and improve pores.*
Note: For an extra boost of healthy skin-loving nutrients, we recommend pairing Clear Skin Probiotics with Good to Glow — a vitamin C and vitamin E duo that provides anti-aging benefits while brightening the skin and protecting against free radicals.*
3. Use Retinol
Dubbed the holy grail of skincare, topical retinol is a type of over-the-counter retinoid that doesn’t only smooth wrinkles, brighten dark spots, and soothe acne-prone† skin, but it can shrink and unclog pores, too. The coveted beauty staple’s magic results from its ability to increase the skin’s collagen production while simultaneously working to keep excess oil production in check. This leads to smoother and softer skin, fewer breakouts, and the appearance of smaller pores.
4. Wear Sunscreen
Protection from the sun’s harmful rays is an absolute must. Why? Because sun damage can negatively affect your skin in a number of different ways, from sun spots to hyperpigmentation to wrinkles to sunburn. The sun can also leave the surface of the skin looking less firm, which can make your pores more visible.
Be sun smart and apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 (or greater) to your skin on a daily basis — rain or shine.
5. Moisturize Daily
Hoping for some pore-minimizing magic? Revamp your skincare routine to ensure that you’re moisturizing every day. After washing your face with a good cleanser, apply an oil-free, hydrating moisturizer to keep your skin from becoming dry.
Remember, when the skin gets dry, oil glands can bump up sebum production to compensate for the lack of moisture. This can lead to especially oily skin that can quickly clog your pores, making them more noticeable and contributing to blemishes.
We also recommend applying a toner between your cleanser and lotion if you have oily skin. Toners and other astringent skincare products often contain ingredients that can shrink the appearance of larger pores and help your skin look smoother and tighter.
The Final Word
At the end of the day, pores are a perfectly normal and natural thing that everyone has. And while you can’t get rid of them completely, the methods above can help to reduce their size.
Laser therapy and microneedling are two other popular methods that are commonly used to shrink pores, but you’ll need to seek out a dermatologist, as these treatments must be performed by a licensed professional.
At Love Wellness, we want to help you to feel good in the skin you’re in. Whether you’re dealing with enlarged pores, frequent breakouts, or dry skin, you can always count on us to have your back!
What can treat large facial pores? | AAD
Facial Pores: Definition, Causes, and Treatment Options | PubMed
7 Dermatologist Approved Tips to Shrink Your Pores | Cleveland Clinic