What you can do
Pores are small openings in the skin that release oils and sweat. They’re also connected to your hair follicles.
If your pores appear larger, it may be because of:
- increased sebum production, which causes oily skin
- sun damage
- noncomedogenic makeup
Although you can’t change the size of your pores, home techniques can help minimize their appearance. Here’s how.
Assess your skin care products
It may be time to switch up the skin care products you use on a regular basis.
If you’re using any products designed to clear excess sebum and acne, you could be working against yourself. Short-term use is fine, but they can actually irritate your skin with long-term use.
These products rely on active ingredients such as salicylic acid to remove the top layers of your skin. This produces a drying effect, leading your pores to look smaller. But if your skin becomes too dry, your sebaceous glands increase sebum production to replenish the lost moisture. This leads you back to oily skin.
To avoid this, only use the following products for a couple of weeks at a time:
- deep-cleaning facial scrubs
- oil-based masks
Also, make sure that all your products are noncomedogenic. That means that they are water-based. Comedogenic, or oil-based, products are especially off-limits if you have oily skin. Too much oil can lead to large pores. Looking for more tips? Here’s a beginner’s guide to creating a skin care routine.
Cleanse your face
The best types of cleansers get rid of excess dirt and oil without completely stripping your skin of moisture. For large pores related to oily skin, look for a gel-based cleanser. Normal to dry skin can benefit from creamy cleansers.
No matter what skin type you have, avoid cleansers that contain soap or scrubbing agents. These can make pores look bigger.
Some of the following cleansers are worth a try:
Note: There are several claims made on the internet about Cetaphil's alkalinity, but there is no scientific study that validates that it causes problems. The pH of Cetaphil (6.5) is on the very low end of alkalinity, and almost near that of normal skin range (4.5 to 6.2). Most other soaps are much more alkaline than this.
But even the best cleansers won’t do you any good if they aren’t used properly. Be sure to:
- Wet your face with warm water (not hot, not cold).
- Massage the cleanser in circles around your entire face and neck for at least 30 to 60 seconds.
- Rinse thoroughly and pat your skin dry. (No rubbing!)
Repeat this process every morning and night to balance your skin and keep your pores in good health.
Exfoliate with AHAs or BHAs
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends exfoliating just one to two times per week. Exfoliation helps get rid of excess flakes that can clog your pores without over-stripping your skin. If you’re currently having an acne breakout, skip your exfoliation session to avoid irritating your pimples.
If you can, opt for exfoliants with either alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). BHAs are also known as salicylic acids and shouldn’t be used if you’re allergic to aspirin. Although both ingredients can maximize your exfoliating benefits, BHAs can also penetrate deep into the pores to treat acne.
Some popular options include:
Moisturize for balanced hydration
One of the most common mistakes people with oily skin make is to skip out on moisturizer for fear that it will add more oil to their face. Moisturizing products actually help your natural sebum penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin. This not only reduces the appearance of oiliness, but it also helps to condition your skin effectively. Without it, your skin could produce even more oil.
When it comes to large pores, the key is to choose a light, water-based moisturizer. Consider the following options:
- Dermalogica Active Moist
- Murad Balancing Moisturizer
- Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer
- Olay Satin Finish Moisturizer
Use a clay mask
Clay masks can help remove oil, dirt, and dead skin deep inside your pores to make them look smaller. You can use these once or twice per week, but not on the same days that you exfoliate. Exfoliating and using a clay mask in the same day can be tough on your skin and increase your risk of irritation.
Check out some of the following clay masks:
- Dermalogica Sebum Clearing Masque
- Garnier SkinActive Clean and Pore Purifying Clay Cleanser Mask
- Murad Pore Extractor Pomegranate Mask
Wear sunscreen every day
Sunscreen is a must-have for everyone, so don’t let oily skin hold you back. Sun damage not only increases your long-term risk of cancer and wrinkles, but it can also dry out your skin and make your pores look bigger.
Use a product with an SPF of at least 30. You should apply it at least 15 minutes before you head outside. You can also choose moisturizers and foundations that contain SPF in them. Try out the following:
- Cetaphil DermaControl Moisturizer SPF 30
- Dermalogica Oil Free Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 30
- Murad Face Defense SPF 50
Don’t sleep with makeup on
Falling asleep with your makeup on is detrimental to your skin. When left on overnight, cosmetics can combine with dirt, oil, and bacteria left over from the day and clog up your pores. This can make them look larger the next day when you wake up.
That’s why it’s so important to wash your makeup off at night, no matter how tired you are or how late you get home. For added benefit, you can also use a makeup-removing product before cleansing, such as Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse.
In addition to using the right products, good, old-fashioned water can also benefit your pores and overall skin health. Specifically, water helps by:
- hydrating your skin internally
- removing toxins from your pores
- improving your overall complexion
your skin care specialist
If changes to your routine and lifestyle aren’t making an impact on your enlarged pores, professional treatments may be beneficial. Your skin care specialist can recommend certain procedures to help with enlarged pores, such as microneedling and laser treatments.
If severe acne is a contributor to your large pores, your skin care specialist may prescribe antibiotics or retinoids to help clear your skin. Be sure to ask your doctor about using over-the-counter acne treatments in conjunction with professional ones to avoid any reactions.