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Is It Really Possible To Shrink Your Pores?

Written by Jessica “Nikki” Dietert, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on October 18, 2022 One Comment

Pores are the openings of the hair follicles on the surface of the skin. Pores excrete oil and release sweat, two functions that are vital for skin health. While pores can vary in size, sometimes they are more visible to the naked eye in areas like the nose, cheeks and chin. Overly visible pores or “large pores” are common and do not affect your health. However, they can be undesired and lead to self-consciousness about appearance. Learn what causes large pores, and if it’s really possible to shrink them.

What Causes Large Pores? 

A common myth is that pores open and close on their own. Some people naturally have larger pores than others, but genetics isn’t the only thing that affects pore size. The following can cause pores to appear larger.

  • Clogging: Pores become enlarged due to build-up of dead skin, sebum (oil) or other impurities that can stretch and enlarge pores.
  • Dehydration: Dehydrated skin can make pores appear more visible and prevent normal turnover and sloughing of dead skin that clogs pores.
  • Damaged, Aging Skin: Loss of skin elasticity can make pores appear larger. This occurs due to aging, but is accelerated by sun damage and smoking.
  • Acne: Certain types of acne lead to abnormally clogged, enlarged pores.
  • Hormones: Pores often become more visible as a response to hormonal changes that occur. This may happen during puberty, or around a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Do I Have Large Pores? 

Assessment of pore size is subjective. There’s no official measurement or definition of “large” pores. If your pores are noticeable or larger than desired, seeking treatment is recommended.

Can You Really Shrink Your Pores?

As pore size is primarily the result of genetics and the above listed contributing factors, your pore size cannot be permanently reduced. However, there are ways to make your pores appear smaller to the naked eye. The following tips can also help prevent your pores from stretching or getting larger.

How to Minimize Pore Size:

It is important to properly clean your skin, use products that promote healthy turnover of dead skin cells, and boost collagen and elastin. This will help your pores stay small.

Keep Skin Clean: Washing your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser helps reduce oil production. Oil binds and traps dead skin cells, so less oil means less chance of pores getting clogged.  Cleansing your skin also removes environmental pollutants that damage our skin and lead to clogged pores.

Wash Off Makeup: Never sleep with your makeup on. This can cause pores to clog over time. Makeup left on overnight combines with dirt, bacteria and oil to cause breakouts as well.

Treat Acne: Acne is a huge contributed to enlarged pores. Acne should be treated to prevent progression and scarring. It is ideal to seek a dermatologist’s opinion on how best to treat your acne.

Exfoliate Wisely: A once to twice weekly exfoliation routine helps clear away dead skin and other impurities that can clog pores. Chemical or manual exfoliation both help to reduce pore growth over time. Avoid overdoing it, as overly exfoliated dry skin will respond itself by producing more oil that can be counterproductive.

Be Gentle with Skin: Exfoliating too often or using harsh products or scrubs can dry skin, leading to more flaking, more oil production, and more clogged pores. In addition, avoid picking at your skin or squeezing blemishes. Popping pimples can damage pores and create scarring.

Moisturize: Moisture helps regulate sebum production in your skin. If you have large pores, choose a non-comedogenic, water-based moisturizer that won’t clog your pores. Moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, ceramides or collagen peptides can also help prevent skin aging.

Use Pore-Friendly Products: Choose makeup and other skin care products labeled as non-comedogenic, non-pore-clogging or water-based. In addition, opt for light powder-based mineral makeup instead of heavy, liquid or oil-based formulas.

Consider Retinol: Retinol and retinoids reduce the clogging of pores and help make them less visible. They also have exfoliating properties that can help minimize aging. A dermatologist can advise which product is best for your skin.

Wear Sunscreen: Sun damage is a huge contributor to skin aging and sagging. Long-term, it can also lead to large, dilated pores and small cysts. Using a high-quality sunscreen helps prevent the loss of collagen to keep skin firm. When skin stays firm, pores remain less noticeable.

Professional Treatment to Minimize Pores

Aside from the above lifestyle changes, the following professional skin resurfacing procedures can all help minimize the appearance of pores:

Prescriptions: Medical grade or prescription strength retinoids that your dermatologist prescribes can help reduce pore size and treat acne and aging.

Chemical Peels: A professional chemical peel can exfoliate much more deeply than any at-home treatment. The treatment removes the outermost layer of skin to promote healing and rejuvenation, deep cleansing pores in the process.

Microneedling: Professional microneedling creates controlled wounding of the skin with small needles. This process triggers collagen production and fortifies the supportive structure that pores need to stay small.

Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion manually exfoliates the outer layers of skin to promote skin cell turnover and the production of newer, more elastic skin cells. It can also clear pores and help reduce oil production.

Facials: Diamond glow and Hydrafacial treatments use high pressure water and suction to deep clean pores and exfoliate the skin, creating healthier skin with less noticeable pores.

Laser Treatments: Certain lasers work similarly to the above resurfacing procedures used target heat delivery, but can penetrate deeper and produce a more noticeable result.


Jessica “Nikki” Dietert, MD

Jessica “Nikki” Dietert, MD is a board-certified dermatologist ad fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at Westlake Dermatology. She then earned her medical degree at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas before completing a residency at The University of Texas at Houston/M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where she served as chief resident in her final year. She then finished training with a fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery at Washington University in St. Louis.


One Response to “Is It Really Possible To Shrink Your Pores?”

  1. Avatar RMV says:

    Very helpful post, I’ve shared it on insta. Thanks for writing it 🙂

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