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Home / Skin Health Center / Large Pores / Simple Solutions for Minimizing Large Pores

Simple Solutions for Minimizing Large Pores

By: Jody Braverman , Reviewed By: Dr. Emmy Graber

woman cleansing her skin

Who knew such a tiny characteristic could elicit such daily stress? Despite endless creams, serums and peels promising a pore-free complexion, your large-pored existence is something you're usually born with. However, if your enlarged pores stem from clogging due to aging, sun damage, dirt and oil buildup, there are things you can do to help minimize their appearance and take a break from fussing over them in the mirror.

Keep Your Skin Clean

Throughout the day, oil, makeup dirt and debris build up on your skin and get trapped in your pores. This buildup in your pores causes them to expand. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber suggests regularly cleansing your skin once or twice a day to ban the buildup. If you wear makeup or sunscreen it's most important to wash your face in the evening. Choose a gentle cleanser that's right for your skin type — whether oily, dry or sensitive — and use lukewarm or cold water; hot water can strip your skin of essential oils. When you're done, gently pat your skin dry — don't rub — to avoid irritation.

Choose the Right Products

Take a good look at your current facial routine to see if your makeup, lotions and other facial products may be the culprit of your clogged pores. Look for products that are "non-comedogenic," which means they likely don't contain ingredients that are known to clog pores. These products are aimed at people with oily or acne-prone skin. Although the FDA does not regulate these products or provide a list of ingredients the products should not contain to be labeled non-comedogenic, it does mean that the manufacturer created the product — ideally — for pores that get easily clogged and irritated. However, there is no guarantee that it will not clog your pores, and every person's skin is different. If aging skin is the issue, look for a product that increases collagen production to aid skin elasticity. Retinol in prescription form or over-the-counter beauty products is highly effective.

Exfoliate, But Not Too Much

Mechanical or chemical exfoliation products can also help remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Mechanical exfoliation methods include brushes or rough sponges and granular scrubs. Chemical exfoliators include hydroxy acids, such as salicylic and glycolic acids; retinol; and biological enzymes, such as bromelain and papain from pineapple. The International Dermal Institute reports that salicylic acid is highly effective at reducing comedones, which are basically widened and clogged pores, such as blackheads. The institute also cautions against using very rough mechanical exfoliators such as crushed fruit pits and shells because they are too irritating. Lastly, the key is to avoid exfoliating too often, which irritates the skin; once or twice a week is sufficient.

Use Pore Strips and Clay Masks

Those pore strips really do work to extract dirt and debris from your pores. This can temporarily make them appear smaller, especially if they've been clogged up with dark-colored debris. Clay masks also deep clean your pores and temporarily tighten your skin to make pores appear smaller. The results are temporary, however, and you need to use these products regularly to benefit from their effects.

Apply Sunscreen Year-Round

Sun damage breaks down the collagen in your skin, which is what gives it its elasticity. This not only leads to wrinkles, but also to enlarged pores because your pores begin to sag, making them look larger. Although you can't undo damage that's already there, you can prevent further damage and maintain your pore size by protecting your skin from the sun. Apply a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 at least 15 minutes before going out into the sun. Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days or in the winter; the sun's rays can still damage your skin even when it's a gray day.

This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.

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