Large pores are a nuisance that nobody wants to deal with. While it’s not possible to physically shrink your pore size (although, wouldn’t that be fabulous!), there are steps you can take to minimize their appearance. We’re sharing everything you need to know about clogged pores, plus a recommended regimen to reduce their appearance.
What are pores?
Pores may appear as holes on the surface of the skin, but in actuality, they are openings at the top of hair follicles on the surface of the skin. Each of these follicles produces sweat and oil (also called sebum), which keeps skin naturally moisturized.
How do I get clogged pores?
Pores become enlarged or “clogged” when dead skin cells, dirt, debris, oil and other undesirable things become trapped inside the pore. This debris expands them, making pores much more apparent than they typically are. If you deal with enlarged pores, it’s important to choose only non-comedogenic and oil-free skin care products and makeup. Additionally, aging, sun and environmental damage, dryness and acne can all make pores appear larger than you’d like.
Which type of regimen will help minimize pores?
It’s important to understand that the size of your pores is usually determined by genetics and skin type (oily skin types often have larger pores) and you can’t actually “shrink” them. However, your pores can appear smaller by choosing the right products and using them faithfully. The key to smaller-looking pores is keeping them free of dirt and debris with products formulated with clarifying and exfoliating ingredients. We checked in with LovelySkin CEO and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joel Schlessinger to get his take on how to minimize pores:
“Cleansing and exfoliating your skin with the right products can certainly help minimize the look of large pores. However, if you deal with pore blockages regularly and your current regimen isn’t working, you may need to see a dermatologist. Professional-strength treatments like peels, laser treatments and prescription-only retinol products can help.”
Here is a step-by-step regimen to keep pore size to a minimum.
Step 1: Choose a cleanser with alpha or beta hydroxy acids
The right cleanser can make or break your regimen if large pores are your problem. Choose a clarifying cleanser formulated with exfoliating ingredients like glycolic and salicylic acids or benzoyl peroxide. While these acids work in different ways, they all keep pores clear of dirt and debris. The LovelySkin Luxe Clarifying Gel Cleanser contains 2% concentrations of both glycolic and salicylic acids that deeply exfoliate skin to minimize breakouts, oiliness and larges pores. Additionally, this unique cleanser contains afaLUXE™, a dermatologist-developed amino acid that works with the skin’s natural moisturizing factors to reduce irritation and keep skin properly hydrated.
Pro Tip: If you deal with excessively oily skin, it’s a good idea to cleanse twice a day with warm water. If water is too hot, skin becomes inflamed and pores can expand more.
Step 2: Don’t skip the toner.
Toners were very important a few decades ago, as they balanced a skin’s pH level after cleansing. While cleansers are much more sophisticated these days, toners are still very beneficial in minimizing the look of large pores. Toners formulated with ingredients like salicylic acid and witch hazel balance oil production, tighten skin and help sweep pores of impurities. The Obagi Clenziderm M.D. Pore Therapy is a great follow-up to an exfoliating cleanser to deep clean pores. It contains 2% salicylic acid to dissolve leftover dirt and debris and keep blemishes to a minimum.
Step 3: Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.
Exfoliating may be the most important step in minimizing the look of large pores. While this isn’t something you should do every day, (you should exfoliate 1-3 times a week at most), a deep exfoliation will absorb oil and sweep away debris to keep clogged pores at bay. LovelySkin LUXE Exfoliating Gel Mild 11% is a multitasking exfoliating gel for all skin types that encourages cell renewal, minimizes pores and encourages a smoother skin texture with amino-based filaggrin antioxidants, Dead Sea minerals and vitamin C. Additionally, this gentle exfoliator works in tandem with your skin's natural moisturizing system, ensuring you achieve a deep, effective exfoliation without the typical irritation.
Step 4: Ritually use a retinol.
Oily and acne-prone skin types can make skin appear inflamed and less firm, which contributes to the look of large pores. Adding a retinol product to your regimen can help. Retinol offers many benefits, including controlling acne and improving signs of aging. Additionally, the cell renewal activity that retinol encourages helps promote collagen production, which plumps the skin and unclogs pores. Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum provides a double dose of retinol with pure vitamin A and retinol-like botanical extracts. In tandem, these two key ingredients exfoliate skin and encourage cell renewal. It’s also formulated with CoQ10, a potent antioxidant that works to repair damaged skin cells.
Step 5: Use a detoxifying mask once a week
The right face mask can do wonders for a multitude of skin troubles and large pores are no exception. Choose a detoxifying formula that contains ingredients like bentonite or kaolin clay. These naturally occurring, mineral-rich clays give oily skin a one-two punch by absorbing excess oil and sweeping pores of impurities. The LovelySkin Pore Refining Pumpkin Mask is a self-warming mask formulated with kaolin clay to absorb excess oil and pumpkin enzymes to further exfoliate dead skin cells. This weekly treatment refines the surface of the skin, making it appear smoother and firmer.
Step 6: Be a devoted sunscreen user.
Add enlarged pores to the list of problems that unprotected sun exposure contributes to! Sun damage is nothing more than inflammation, which causes skin to look and feel less firm, making pores more visible. Our favorite sunscreen, EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46, is ideal for perfecting pores because in addition to broad-spectrum sun protection, this non-comedogenic formula contains lactic acid and niacinamide. When used in tandem, these two ingredients exfoliate the skin, helping to reduce acne, oiliness, redness and enlarged pores.
Step 7: Choose makeup wisely.
Our first instinct may be to cover up our imperfections with makeup—large pores included. In some cases, this can work wonders, but certain makeup formulas can settle into large pores, making them even more apparent. Choose high quality, non-comedogenic formulas that don’t contain pore-clogging fillers like petrolatum or mineral oil. La Roche Posay Effaclar BB Blur is specifically formulated for acne-prone skin to cut shine and mattify an oily complexion. It contains a breakthrough ingredient called Airlicium that absorbs humidity, sweat and up to 150 times its weight in excess oil. Plus, it contains SPF 20 to supplement your daily sunscreen protection!
Learn more about how to minimize pores with this expert advice from the LovelySkin aestheticians.