Pores — your skin is covered in them. These tiny holes are everywhere, covering the skin of your face, arms, legs, and everywhere else on your body.

Pores serve an important function. They allow sweat and oil to escape through your skin, cooling you off and keeping your skin healthy while getting rid of toxins. Pores are also the openings of hair follicles. Even though pores are important, some people dislike their appearance — especially on areas of the body where they appear more noticeable, like on the nose and forehead.

There’s no way — and no reason — to close your pores completely. But there are ways to make them appear less prominent on your skin. Keep reading to find out safe and effective ways to take care of your pores so that your skin looks its best. Your face will thank you.

There are many ways to minimize the appearance of your pores. Check out these tips!

1. Wash with cleansers

Skin that’s often oily, or has clogged pores, may benefit from using a daily cleanser. A clinical study from 2006 showed that use of a cleanser can minimize some acne symptoms and keep your pores clear.

Start by using a gentle cleanser that you can purchase over-the-counter. Look for a label that states that it was made for people with normal to oily skin. The ingredients should list glycolic acid. Wash your face each night before going to bed, being careful not to over-wash your face with the cleanser. This may cause your skin to dry out.

2. Use topical retinoids

Products with retinoid compounds — a fancy word for vitamin A — have been shown to have varying degrees of success at shrinking pores. You can read the ingredient labels of products at your supermarket and pharmacy, looking for creams that have “tretinoin” listed.

Use caution when using. These products are typically best applied once per day. Using retinoids too frequently can irritate your skin, causing redness, dryness, and flakiness, as well as make you more likely to get a sunburn.

3. Sit in a steam room

It may seem counterintuitive to sit in a steam room to close your pores. After all, steam opens up your pores and makes your body produce sweat. But it’s possible that your pores look enlarged because there’s dirt, oil, or bacteria trapped inside of them.

Find a steam room and spend 5 to 10 minutes opening up your pores before getting a clean towel and carefully washing your face outside of the room. Your skin might appear firmer afterward.

Steam rooms can be a hotbed of germs and bacteria themselves, though. After using a public steam room, take a clean washcloth and dip it in warm water before applying it to your face for a minute or two while it cools. This will help your pores to close after the steam has opened them up, and keep new bacteria from entering.

4. Apply an essential oil

Using essential oils as a home remedy is all the rage these days, but in the case of shrinking pores, there may be some evidence to back it up.

Anti-inflammatory essential oils, such as clove and cinnamon bark oil, have been shown to banish bacteria from your skin. It can also give you balanced looking skin and, maybe, smaller-looking pores.

Mix your active ingredient oil with a gentle carrier oil, such as almond oil or jojoba oil, before applying it to your face. Don’t leave the mixture on for more than a few minutes, and make sure to blot your face dry afterward.

5. Exfoliate your skin

Exfoliating can remove trapped toxins that can make pores look bigger. A gentle facial scrub with apricot or soothing green tea is probably your best bet. By scrubbing your face clean, any dirt or contaminant on your skin’s surface will be swept away, along with the dead skin cells that might have built up. This will generally make your face appear smoother, more firm, and yes — less porous.

6. Use a clay mask

A quick way to reduce inflammation and the appearance of acne scarring is to use a clay mask. In one clinical trial from 2012, the appearance of acne lesions was reduced by 54 percent when participants used a clay mask mixed with jojoba oil just twice a week.

Clay masks work to minimize pores by drying out the sebum underneath your pores, as well as sticking to impurities and pulling them out as the mask dries. Try a clay mask two to three times per week as part of your facial cleansing routine.

7. Try a chemical peel

If your pores look enlarged because your skin is producing too much sebum, it might be time to try a chemical peel. Peels with hyaluronic acid can help regulate sebum production, and peels with salicylic acid promote the growth of new skin cells to replace older, damaged cells. Use these peels in moderation, because over time they can make your skin more sensitive to sunburns.

There are plenty of products and home remedies that claim to make your pores appear smaller. The key to finding what works for you may depend on figuring out what causes your pores to look enlarged. Is it oily skin? Sweat? Environmental toxins? Skin that needs to be exfoliated? Maybe it’s just genetics! Some treatments will work better than others, so experiment a bit until you find what works for you.

Whatever is causing your pores to appear enlarged, remember that having pores and producing sweat are both perfectly natural and necessary for your body to function. They’re signs that your body is working the way that it’s supposed to. Whether your pores are hyper-visible or just seem to be looking bigger than you’d like, they’re a part of your body and essential to your body’s largest organ — your skin.