Nose pores are the openings to the hair follicles on your skin. Attached to these follicles are sebaceous glands. These glands produce a natural oil called sebum which keeps your skin moisturized.

While pores are a necessity to your skin health, they can come in different sizes. Nose pores are naturally larger than those that are located on other parts of your skin. This is because the sebaceous glands underneath them are larger, too. You’re also more likely to have enlarged nose pores if you have oily skin. Enlarged nose pores are also genetic.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to literally shrink large nose pores. But there are ways you can help make them appear smaller. Read on to learn all the culprits behind enlarged nose pores and what you can do to help prevent them.

Nose pores are inherently larger. If the pores on your nose get clogged, this can become more noticeable. Clogged pores typically consist of a combination of sebum and dead skin cells that get stock in the hair follicles beneath. This creates “plugs” that can then harden and enlarge the follicle walls. In turn, this can make the pores more noticeable.

More individual causes of clogged pores and enlargement include:

  • acne
  • excess oil production (common in oily skin types)
  • lack of exfoliation, which causes a buildup of dead skin cells
  • increased humidity
  • heat
  • sun exposure, especially if you don’t wear sunscreen
  • genes (if your parents have oily skin and large nose pores, you will likely have the same)
  • hormone fluctuations, such as during menstruation or puberty
  • alcohol or caffeine consumption (these can dry out your skin and lead to increased sebum production)
  • poor diet (while no single foods have proven to cause acne, plant-based diets are thought to help with skin health)
  • extreme stress
  • poor skin care habits (such as not washing your face twice a day, or wearing oil-based makeup)
  • dry skin (ironically, having dry skin can make pores more noticeable due to an increase in sebum production and accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin)

The first step to resolving nose pores is to make sure they’re clean. Oil, dirt, and makeup can lead to clogged nose pores.

Remove all makeup before bed

Wearing oil-free, noncomedogenic products doesn’t give you a pass for bedtime makeup removal. Even the most skin-friendly makeup products can clog your pores if you leave them on overnight.

Your first step to unclogging nose pores is to make sure they’re cosmetic-free before going to bed. You should also remove makeup before washing your face to make sure the cleanser can work in your nose pores more effectively.

Cleanse twice a day

Cleansing removes any leftover makeup, as well as oil, dirt, and bacteria from your pores. Ideally, you should do this twice a day. You might need to cleanse again during the day after you work out, too.

Oily skin is served best with a gentle cleanser that’s either gel- or cream-based. These will help to clean out nose pores without irritating them, thereby making them even more noticeable.

Use the right moisturizer

Even though your nose pores might be making more sebum, you still need to follow up each cleanse with a moisturizer. This prevents any over-drying that can worsen nose pore issues. Look for a water or gel-based product that won’t clog your pores. Check out some of the best facial moisturizers on the market.

Deep-clean your pores with a clay mask

Clay masks help draw out plugs in your pores and can also help give the appearance of smaller pores. For best results, use two to three times per week. If the rest of your face is on the dryer side, feel free to use the clay mask on your nose only.

Exfoliate dead skin cells

Use an exfoliating product two to three times a week to help get rid of dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores. The key here is to massage the product onto your nose and let the product do the heavy lifting — scrubbing the exfoliant into your skin will only cause further aggravation.

Other OTC products and steps

You can also keep your nose pores clean with:

  • oil mattifiers
  • salicylic acid
  • oil-blotting sheets
  • nose strips
  • noncomedogenic sunscreen

Despite keeping your nose pores clean, genes, environment, and your skin type may still make them more noticeable. Consider the following treatments that may help your nose pores appear smaller. (Note that it can take a few weeks or longer to see full results.)

OTC acne products

Over-the-counter (OTC) acne products usually have salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. The latter may be helpful if you have an active acne breakout on your nose, but it doesn’t do much to decrease pore size. Salicylic acid is far more helpful in this area because it dries out dead skin cells deep in the pores, essentially unclogging them.

When used over time, salicylic acid may help your pores appear smaller on your nose by keeping dead skin cells and oil at bay. Just be sure you’re not overdoing it, as this will dry out your skin. A once or twice daily use of a salicylic acid-containing cleanser, toner, or spot treatment is enough to treat large pores.

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a tamer version of professional dermabrasion treatments you might get at a medical spa, and without the harsh side effects. It uses a blend of small crystals or diamond crystal tipped tools that help remove the top layer of your skin. During the process, any dead skin cells and oils on the surface of your skin are removed, too. You can use a home microdermabrasion kit once a week — just be sure you’re not using it on the same day as any clay masks or exfoliants, as this will dry out your nose.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels are also known to help reduce the appearance of pores. Like microdermabrasion treatments, chemical peels also remove the top layer of skin. In theory, the skin cells that are located under the top layer of skin will be softer and more even. The more even appearance will also make nose pores look smaller. This beginner’s guide to at-home chemical peels can help your get started.

Glycolic acid is the most common ingredient in chemical peels. Citric, lactic, and malic acids are other options available on the market. All belong to a class of substances called alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). It can take some trial-and-error to determine which AHA works best for your nose pores.

The key to “shrinking” nose pores is to keep them clean and unclogged of any debris. If you don’t have any luck with at-home treatments, see your dermatologist for advice. They may even offer professional-grade treatments, such as medical grade chemical peels, laser treatments, or dermabrasion.