As people age, change happens on the inside and the outside. Maturing affects everything from skin pigment to texture, so it’s mainly the world around your pores—the surrounding skin—that changes. You can embrace the years gracefully, though, knowing you have several options for keeping your pores manageable no matter your age.
What Affects Pore Size
From the outset, your genetics largely determine your pore size. Whatever your age, their appearance is most affected by hygiene; neglecting your skin-care routine causes oil, dead skin cells and dirt to clog the pores, stretching them out and making them appear larger. The body’s output of pore-clogging oil, known as sebum, varies greatly depending on gender (men are more susceptible) and hormonal factors, including menstruation. The more sebum your body produces, of course, the larger your pores appear.
What Happens Over Time
As the years pass, UV rays and other environmental factors cause the skin to lose its elasticity. When this happens, pores clogged with sebum, dirt and dead skin appear to be larger than before. This is because the skin around each pore is not as firm and collagen-rich as in younger skin. Firm skin essentially girds and supports pores, so it has the effect of making pores appear smaller, while looser, inelastic skin makes pores appear larger or more dilated. Use sunscreen year-round to help lessen the effects of UV damage, and keep your skin firmer even as it ages.
Regular exfoliation is key when it comes to battling enlarged pores. Choose an exfoliating pore scrub with an active ingredient like salicylic acid or gylcolic acid to slough away dead skin cells, helping prevent clogged, enlarged pores. Wash your face twice daily, as well as after dirty or sweat-inducing activities. If you have naturally oily skin, use an oil-absorbing moisturizer, and turn to matte makeup and mattifying skin care products to reduce shine and help pores appear smaller. For any skin type, apply face primer before foundation to lend the skin a smoother look.
At the Dermatologist
Qualified dermatologists and aestheticians offer services that clean the pores to make them look smaller, an effect that can be especially noticeable for older skin. Vacuum-powered pore extraction deep-cleans the pores by sucking out dirt, sebum and debris. Other treatments use specialized beams of light that shrink emptied pores by contracting oil-producing sebaceous glands, while still others use a combination of suction, light and topical agents to shrink enlarged pores. These processes come at many times the cost of over-the-counter solutions but are intended as special treatments rather than day-to-day skin-care tweaks.
This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.