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Your skin is covered in pores. These tiny holes are everywhere: 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.
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.
Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.
That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.
We only recommend something we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched by our team.
There are many ways to minimize the appearance of your pores. Check out these tips!
Skin that’s often oily, or has clogged pores, may benefit from using a daily cleanser.
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.
It’s best to wash once in the morning and once in the evening. Washing more can irritate the skin.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using water-based products, including makeup.
When it comes to cleansers, gel-based products are a good option too. They help clear oil from the pores, reducing their appearance. They work especially well for those with oily skin.
One ingredient to look for is 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.
Whatever you do, make sure that all products purchased over the counter are non-comedogenic!
Do your best to stay away from oil-based or alcohol-based cleansers. Oil can irritate the skin and cause breakouts. Alcohol may cause redness and dryness.
Products that are marketed as moisturizing cleansers may leave residue and actually increase the amount of oil on your skin, so steer clear of those if you have oily skin, too.
When you moisturize your skin, it produces less sebum, or oil, to compensate for dryness.
Choose an oil-free moisturizer and apply after you wash and pat your skin dry. This allows the oil from the sebaceous glands to penetrate more deeply into the skin and prevents the pores from getting clogged.
Products with retinoid compounds — a fancy word for vitamin A —
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. Avoid use if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
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.
Exfoliate with a gentle exfoliant such as glycolic acid. Be careful if using a retinol at the same time, as retinoids make the skin more sensitive. It’s only necessary to exfoliate once or twice a week.
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
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.
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. They may also give you balanced looking skin and, potentially, 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.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils.
It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products.
If your pores look enlarged because your skin is producing too much sebum, it might be time to try a chemical peel.
Use these peels in moderation, because over time they can make your skin more sensitive to sunburns.
Speaking of sunburns, don’t get one! It’s critical to use sunscreen everyday, even in the winter or when spending time indoors.
Sun exposure can dry out the skin, make pores appear larger, and reduce suppleness.
Be sure to apply a sunscreen daily with SPF 30 or higher. You can even choose a moisturizer with SPF in it. Other ways to protect from the sun are to wear a wide-brimmed hat, opt for ultraviolet protective factor (UPF) clothing, and stick to the shade when the rays are intense.
If a late night has you longing for bed and tempted to skip your makeup removal routine, think again.
Leaving your makeup on overnight is a recipe for blocked pores due to a buildup of product, oil, and bacteria.
Even if you only use a quick makeup-remover wipe, it’s still worth the effort before your face hits the pillow.
Ideally, leave enough time to cleanse with water and apply toner to get any extra product cleansing may have left behind.
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? 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.