7 Dermatologist-Approved Tips to Shrink Your Pores – Cleveland Clinic

Does it seem like every time you look in a mirror these days, enlarged pores are staring at you? If you’re wondering how to minimize those suddenly very visible pores, you’re not alone.

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Visible pores are a common complaint as people age, says dermatologist Jane Wu, MD. It seems everyone wants the fine, flawless skin of childhood when pores were seemingly invisible.

But as you go through puberty and adulthood, pores tend to stand out more. Their appearance varies from person to person and depends on several factors. Dr. Wu explains what makes pores bigger and how you can shrink them.

Why do your pores look so big?

Genetics mainly determines the size of your pores. Pores are openings that allow sweat and sebum (oil) to exit glands on the surface of your skin. So if your parents have large pores, chances are you have them too.

But other factors also contribute to enlarged pores, says Dr. Wu, including:

  • Oil production: Pores appear more prominent in the center of your face. This is because more oil-releasing sebaceous glands are found there.
  • Sex: People assigned male at birth (AMAB) tend to have more sebaceous glands and oilier skin, which leads to more visible pores.
  • Aging: Collagen and elastin are proteins that provide structural support to pores. You lose collagen and elastin in your skin as you age, which allows your pores to get larger.
  • Sun damage: Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun breaks down collagen and elastin, the building blocks of the skin. This reduces the firmness of the skin, allowing your pores to get bigger.
  • Hormonal changes: Pores become more visible from puberty when hormonal changes cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. People assigned female at birth (AFAB) may notice that their pore size also changes during their menstrual cycle, a time when they often have acne breakouts.

Can you reduce pore size?

Since the size of your pores is mostly a result of your genetics, you cannot reduce them permanently. However, you can minimize their appearance by keeping them free of oil and debris and increasing your skin’s collagen and elastin. These steps also prevent pores from getting bigger.

In your pursuit of flawless skin, avoid over-tightening your pores or using an extraction tool to unclog them. “This can cause scarring and damage the skin,” Dr. Wu notes. “Instead, use products to gently clean pores without causing additional trauma.”

Seven Ways to Minimize Pores

There are lots of tips on how to shrink pores naturally. It is true that passing an ice cube or a chilled skin roller on your face helps. But the tightening effect only lasts a few minutes and fades once the skin is warmed up.

Another trend is red light therapy applied through a wand or mask. But Dr Wu says research has not proven it to be an effective treatment for reducing pore size.

So what should you do? Dr. Wu suggests these ways to minimize prominent pores:

1. Follow a good skincare regimen

Use a gentle cleanser to wash your face morning and night. To keep pores free of excess oil, be sure to only use products labeled oil-free or non-comedogenic (meaning they won’t clog your pores).

2. Apply sun protection

Protection from the sun’s rays is essential to avoid losing collagen and elastin due to skin damage. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen in your daytime skincare routine. Hats and other physical blockers can also help protect your face from UV rays.

3. Do a chemical peel

Cleansing the pores of dead skin cells and excess oil helps them look smaller. An occasional chemical peel at home can do the trick. “You can use most over-the-counter peels every two weeks and sometimes every week, depending on the type of peel and the depth of skin cells it removes,” says Dr. Wu.

Peels use alpha or beta hydroxy acids (AHAs or BHAs) to remove the top layer of dead skin cells. Hydroxy acids unclog pores and stimulate collagen production. Look for:

  • Glycolic acid, a common AHA.
  • Salicylic acid, a popular BHA.
  • Daily skin care products — like toners, serums, and treatments — that contain these acids in small doses.

4. Use retinol

Retinol is an all-around skincare ingredient famous for fighting acne and wrinkles. Retinols are vitamin A derivatives, with over-the-counter and prescription options. Like hydroxy acids, it helps slough off dead skin cells, unclog pores and reveal fresh skin.

Retinol also increases collagen production, which keeps skin supple.

It’s best to apply a retinol serum or moisturizer at night, as it can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. (Read: You’ll burn faster.) Start slow by applying a thin layer twice a week, building up to daily use, as retinol can also cause initial skin irritation.

5. Ask about prescription drugs

If over-the-counter products don’t work, consider seeing a skin specialist (dermatologist). A dermatologist can prescribe stronger retinoid products, such as Retin-A® (tretinoin), which are stronger than over-the-counter options.

“For patients who also have concerns about active acne, we may prescribe oral medications such as Accutane® (isotretinoin) or spironolactone to treat it,” says Dr. Wu. oil production, which diminishes the appearance of pores.”

6. Try microneedling

Your dermatologist can perform a microneedling procedure, an effective way to plump skin to shrink pores.

“We use a micro-needling device to make tiny punctures in the skin with very small sterile needles,” says Dr. Wu. “This creates micro-traumas in the skin, which stimulates a healing response. This triggers the production of collagen, which strengthens the support structure around the pores.

Afraid of needles? Don’t worry, the procedure is not painful. However, you might feel some discomfort. Afterwards, your face may (temporarily) look like a slight sunburn.

You can purchase micro-needle facial rollers over the counter. However, the results you get from microneedling depend on how deep you can go with your microneedling — and at-home kits fall short, Dr. Wu notes.

Home devices typically have needles 0.5 millimeters or less in length. Those used by dermatologists are 1.5 to 2 millimeters long. Thus, you can expect better results from the procedure performed by your dermatologist.

7. Consider lasers to shrink pores

Dermatologists can administer laser therapy treatments to resurface your skin. This in-office procedure can help with a variety of skin issues, including reducing the appearance of large pores.

The laser exfoliates the top layer of skin and encourages collagen formation underneath. You typically need a series of laser treatments, with scheduled appointments once every four to eight weeks.

Laser treatments can make a more noticeable difference than some home treatments, says Dr. Wu. Results are also longer lasting, depending on the type of laser.

The bottom line

Pores help your skin function. But if you’re unhappy with the size of your pores, there are effective ways to minimize them. And many of these steps will help you achieve healthy, glowing skin, which is a win no matter what.

But perhaps the best thing you can do for your pores is step away from the mirror.

“People tend to fixate on their pores and look at them with a magnifying glass,” Dr. Wu says. “Then they think their pores are gigantic. My advice is to get rid of your magnifying mirror. Nobody else looks at your face so closely.

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