Skin is the largest organ of the body. It contains millions of pores, even if most of them are not visible to the human eye. All of these pores are open, allowing the skin to “breathe.” Each pore contains a hair follicle. Each pore also contains sebaceous (oil) glands that make an oil called sebum.
The sebaceous glands are most abundant in the pores on your face, back, chest, and groin. Hormones play a role in stimulating these glands in order to produce more abundant quantities of sebum. That’s why the pores on your face, most specifically those on your nose, forehead, and cheeks, may appear larger than they do on other areas of your body.
Any skin type, whether it’s oily, normal, or dry, can take on the appearance of having large, open pores. These may give your skin a dull appearance, particularly if they’re clogged with dirt, bacteria, oil, or dead skin cells.
While not a medical concern, open pores can be a cosmetic issue for some people who do not like the way their skin looks. In adolescents, and in adults who are prone to acne, open pores may become clogged, turning into blackheads or whiteheads. Aging skin containing less collagen may also take on the appearance of having larger, open pores, which might also cause concern.
Pores cannot be opened or closed. They also cannot be made smaller. Often, when people say they wish to open their pores, what they’re referring to is a deep cleaning to remove excess oil and debris. This may make open pores look as if they’ve shrunk or closed.
There are several causes of large-looking open pores. They include:
- high levels of oil (sebum) production
- reduced elasticity around pores
- thick hair follicles
- genetics or heredity
- reduction of collagen production in skin, caused by aging
- sun damage or overexposure to the sun
Open pores versus clear pores
Despite the prevalence of products promising to “open pores,” it’s important to remember that they’re already open. Steamy facials may make you feel as if you’re opening up your pores but in essence, what you’re really doing is cleansing your pores of oil, dead skin cells, and debris. While skin doesn’t technically breathe the way our lungs do, it does require open pores to keep you cool and to eliminate dead skin cells so that new cells can grow.
You can’t get rid of open pores, nor would you want to. You can, however, reduce their look and improve your skin’s appearance. Things to try include:
A steamy facial can help clean out pores, making them appear smaller, and giving your skin a fresh glow. Try adding herbs or essential oils to the steam, to make your experience more aesthetic and pampering.
Masks that dry on the skin are effective at eliminating blackheads and may also help reduce the look of open pores. Try experimenting with several kinds to see which work best for you. Good ones to try include clay or oatmeal masks. Facial masks help draw out impurities from pores, making them look smaller. Take a look at the products available on Amazon.
Exfoliating your skin helps remove the things that clog up pores, such as oil and debris. Exfoliators work best when used daily or almost-daily. You can choose from a wide range of exfoliating products, including astringents, creams, and lotions. Some to try include:
Professional, noninvasive laser treatments, such as Laser Genesis, Pixel Perfect, and the Fraxel Laser are done in a dermatologist’s office or in a medical spa. They work by rejuvenating collagen production and may be most effective for large pores caused by aging or sun damage. They may also be effective at reducing acne scars.
You can’t change your heredity or your age, but you can adopt a proactive skin care routine geared toward reducing the appearance of open pores. Steps include:
- Keep your skin clean with daily exfoliation. You can use products made for this purpose or go low-tech with a warm washcloth followed by an astringent, such as witch hazel.
- Keep your skin protected from the sun by wearing sunscreen every day.
- Opt for noncomedogenic skin care products that don’t clog pores.
- Always moisturize your skin, even if it’s oily. There are moisturizers designed specifically for this skin type.
- Use collagen-boosting products that contain antioxidants, which may also be beneficial for keeping your skin healthy.
Open pores on your cheeks, nose, and forehead can appear larger as you age, or when your pores are clogged. Keeping skin clean, and avoiding the sun, are two of the best ways you can reduce the appearance of open pores. While nothing actually opens or closes pores, treatments are available that can make them look smaller, giving you the appearance of healthier and more vibrant skin.