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How to Shrink the Look of Your Pores in 8 Easy Steps

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Stressed over the size of your pores? You’re not alone. We’ve personally tested a plethora of skincare formulas, DIY recipes, and tricks in pursuit of less visible pores and more refined-looking skin. But while pore size can be a struggle, it’s important to remember that they actually serve a very important purpose. Not only do they allow our skin to breathe, but they also excrete sweat, which keeps our body from overheating. Many of us would agree that it would be incredible to permanently reduce our pore size, but the reality is that a magic fix doesn’t exist for shrinking pores.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t drastically minimize their appearance with proper skincare. Here, we break down the main causes behind large pores, with simple tips that can make a major difference, while making sure not to clog your pores. Plus, we’ve got the best pore-minimizing products to improve the appearance of your pores in no time, so continue reading below if you want to find out how to shrink your pores and keep your skin looking smooth and gorgeous.

About the Expert:

Tamila Deveny is a medical esthetician at MDCS Dermatology in New York, where she oversees skin treatment and rejuvenation procedures. Deveny is an expert in microneedling, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, skin tightening, and acne treatment.

What causes large pores?

The primary cause of large pores is genetics. The size of your pores is determined by the structure of your glands. Unfortunately, as we age, our pores also appear to enlarge. Other contributing factors that cause pores to appear larger include sun damage, acne, and debris. In order to reduce the appearance of pores, keeping your skin clean and keeping your oil production in check is important.

Can you really shrink pores?

While it’s impossible to physically shrink pores for good, with proper care and maintenance you can make it look like your pores shrunk away, leaving you with a smooth, even complexion. Want to know how? Read on.

Tips to minimize the appearance of pores

1. Wash your face twice a day.

The quickest fix for minimizing pores is keeping them clear of debris, dead skin, and excess oil. “Washing your face regularly helps to unclog and clean pores,” says Tamila Deveny, medical esthetician at MDCS Dermatology in New York City. When your pores are clean and clear, they appear smaller.

2. Exfoliating is a good idea.

A little exfoliation will do wonders for your pores, as it removes buildup that causes pores to appear bigger. Using a chemical exfoliator that contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) will also keep oil production in check and ensure your pores don’t get clogged, which can drastically reducing their appearance while sloughing off dead skin cells and debris, leaving you with a brighter, smoother complexion. “Choose a cleanser with AHA or BHA acids to regulate your oil. The less oil in your pores, the smaller your pores will appear,” says Deveny.

For oily, acne-prone skin, opt for BHAs, like salicylic acid, which can make a major difference. “BHAs penetrate pores, unclog them, and make them appear smaller,” says Deveny. Not only do they exfoliate the top layer of your complexion, but their small molecule size makes it possible for them to travel below the surface and within the pores to clear up acne, [brighten] dull skin, and premature signs of aging. If you have aging, sensitive skin or suffer from dry skin, alpha hydroxy acid like lactic acid and glycolic acid are your best bet. “AHAs go into your pores to suck out any grime and impurities, immediately shrinking pores and giving you a healthy glow,” says Deveny.

3. Wear sunscreen every day.

Sun damage and aging are two major factors that contribute to large pores. In order to minimize pores, keeping your skin protected against harmful UV rays is key. “I always tell my patients that SPF is like a coat for your skin—it protects you from solar damage and aging which can also lead to bigger pores,” says Deveny.

4. Hands off!

As tempting as it can be to touch your face and examine your pores, it’s best to resist the urge. “You stretch your pores every time you squeeze your pores,” says Deveny. Not only does touching and picking cause your pores to stretch, but it creates a vicious cycle. “The bigger the pore, the more sebum (oil) it will collect,” says Deveny. When oil collects in our sebaceous glands, it makes them appear larger. In order to stop this cycle, keep your hands off your face, even when you’re tempted to pop a pimple. “Picking at clogged pores can be tempting, but untimely it usually results in an angered blemish which can lead to infection and/or scarring,” says Deveny.

5. Moisturize.

When our skin is dry it can lead to redness and irritation. Soothe skin with a moisturizing lotion to minimize the appearance of pores. “Moisturizing creams help shrink your pores by plumping up the surrounding skin,” says Deveny, who stresses the importance of moisturizing for everyone—including those with oily skin. If your skin is more oily, moisturize with a light serum. “Look for a moisturizer for your skin type,” says Deveny.

6. Stay hydrated.

Ever notice how your pores often look more prominent after a night of drinking? That is due to dehydration. “If you are dehydrated, your body can signal your oil glands to produce more oil,” says Deveny. When our glands produce excess oil, our pores become more prominent. In order to ensure your skin doesn’t suffer, be sure to drink enough water throughout the day.

7. Mask away.

Using a face mask is extremely satisfying because you’ll often see immediate results. “Clay masks, in particular, work to minimize pores by drying sebum underneath your pores and also sticking to impurities to remove them as the mask dries,” says Deveny, who recommends clay masks 1-2 times a week for clients with oily skin who are prone to breakouts. “Clay masks use natural earth clay and botanicals to unclog pores and balance oil production to leave your complexion smooth, pure and healthy,” Deveny says.

8. Reach for a retinoid cream.

Since retinoids encourage cell turnover and clear away pore-clogging debris, in a matter of weeks your pores can look much smaller, and fine lines and wrinkles will also start to shrink away. “You can ask your doctor or dermatologist for a prescription, but even over-the-counter retinol cream will help you keep your pores tight,” says Deveny.

Our Fave Products to Minimize Pores

1. BENEFIT COSMETICS The POREfessional Good Cleanup Mini Foam Cleanser

BENEFIT COSMETICS The POREfessional Good Cleanup Mini Foam Cleanser

If you’re searching for a cleanser that visibly minimizes the look of your pores, this is it! After lathering up, this refreshing lightweight gel cleanser makes pores appear smaller and feel purified to keep your skin feeling fresh and smooth.

2. DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Pores No More® Vacuum Cleaner

DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Pores No More® Vacuum Cleaner

Reducing the appearance of pores begins with proper cleansing, so reach for an exfoliating cleanser specifically formulated for your needs. This potent formula combines salicylic acid and glycolic acid to break apart stubborn dirt and oil to leave you with a clean complexion.

3. ORIGINS Clear Improvement™: Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores

ORIGINS Clear Improvement™: Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores

Give your pores the detox they need with this purifying mask that dissolves all the day’s pollutants, unclogs pores, and reduces the appearance of blackheads with just one use.

4. SAND & SKY Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask

SAND & SKY Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask

This cult-favorite multitasker is crafted from Australian pink clay and will draw out dirt, boost radiance, and tighten pores in just 10 minutes.

5. IT COSMETICS Bye Bye Pores Pressed Setting Powder

IT COSMETICS Bye Bye Pores Pressed Setting Powder

Set your makeup and forget it with this universal, non-comedogenic powder that’s like an Instagram filter IRL. Not only does the translucent shade work on all skin tones, but a unique blend of peptides, silk, antioxidants and hydrolyzed collagen leaves your skin plumped up with a more airbrushed glow. It’s great to use on-the-go when you notice your T-zone is looking a little oily.

While having larger pores is hereditary, the right routine and pore-minimizing skincare products can dramatically reduce the appearance of pores, (even if you aren't really shrinking them), leaving you with a tighter, smoother complexion.

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About the author
Katrina Mitzeliotis Lanza
Katrina is a freelance writer and on-air correspondent with over a decade of experience covering beauty, fashion, and entertainment. When she isn't freelancing, you can catch her on QVC or chasing after her two-year-old son.
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Article Last Updated March 24, 2023 12:00 AM