Ahhhh pores! They are useful little fellas for the most part. However, enlarged pores are often a cosmetic concern for many people (including me). So why do some people have very visible pores while others have largely unnoticeable pores? What causes large pores? Why are the pores on my nose so big compared to the rest of my skin? Is it possible to shrink pores? And for the love of all that is good, why are the pores on my face getting bigger?!
To answer your burning questions, here is everything you need to know about your facial pores…
What are Pores?
What are commonly referred to as ‘facial pores’ are generally enlarged openings of the pilosebaceous follicles. The pilosebaceous follicles consist of a number of structures, including the hair follicles and oil glands . The size and function of a facial pore is largely genetic and affected by both internal and external factors .
What Causes Large Pores?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to large pores. These factors generally fall into two categories – individual internal factors and external environmental factors.
Internal Factors That Affect Facial Pore Size
External Factors That Affect Facial Pore Size
- Environmental Pollutants
- Excessive UV Light Exposure
- Comedogenic Cosmetics
Internal Factors That Affect Facial Pore Size
First and foremost, your genetic disposition will largely determine your pore size. Your genetics also influence the amount of sebum your sebaceous glands produce, the size of your hair follicles/thickness of hair, and your skin elasticity and tension. All of which are considered the main causes of enlarged facial pores .
The general consensus between published research studies is that there is a positive correlation between sebum production and pore size. In other words, the more sebum the skin produces, the larger the size of the facial pores. This is also evidenced by the fact that the majority of enlarged pores are on the nose and central cheek area .
In one study, facial pore size was larger when the level of sebum production was higher as well as with the presence of acne. However, the severity of acne made no difference to the size of facial pores . Interestingly, this study also found a negative correlation between skin elasticity and facial pores, where facial pores were larger when there was less skin elasticity, but no correlation between age.
As skin elasticity decreases with age, it would seem likely that age would be correlated too. However, sebum production is known to decrease with advancing age . One study even found that pore size decreased with age, but this relationship was not statistically significant and the sample only consisted of 20-40-year-olds .
It is thought that reduced collagen and skin elasticity causes large pores as the skin sags and stretches the pore, making it appear larger.
External Factors that Affect Pore Size
There are a number of environmental factors that contribute to enlarged facial pores by either increasing sebum production, reducing skin elasticity, or clogging pores.
It is well known that overexposure to UV radiation breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin, thereby reducing the elasticity and plumpness of the skin . In fact, in a study of 156 volunteers, skin elasticity was significantly lower in areas regularly exposed to UV radiation compared to unexposed sites regardless of the age of the individual .
Some studies have also demonstrated that UV radiation leads to an overgrowth of sebaceous glands and a temporary increase in the production of sebum . In a study of outdoor workers regularly exposed to UV radiation for prolonged periods of time, facial pores were above what is considered age-appropriate standards. Furthermore, pore size was positively correlated with sebum production and duration of UV exposure .
Pore size is also affected by comedogenic pollutants and cosmetics – basically, anything that blocks or clogs pores. This is due to the fact that the build-up of debris in the pore can, in effect, ‘stretch-it-out’ and make it appear larger.
Is It Possible To Shrink Pores And, More To The Point, How Can You Shrink Pores?
While pore size is largely genetic and out of our control, there are a number of contributing factors that can be treated. The answer lies in targeting what causes large pores – namely, increased sebum production and reduced skin elasticity.
Therefore, effective treatments for reducing large pores are those that:
- Reduce sebum production
- Increase skin elasticity
- Are non-comedogenic
So, here’s how to shrink pores…
First things first! Prevention is better than cure – and by that, I mean SUNSCREEN!!
Often overlooked, sunscreen is by far the most effective and essential skincare staple! Whether you have large or small pores, you should be wearing sunscreen every day of the year.
Specifically, you should be wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen (that means it has both UVA & UVB protection) that is at least SPF30. While there isn’t a huge amount of additional UVB protection offered by SPF50+ sunscreens (SPF30 protects against 97% of UVB rays, while SPF50 protects against 98% of UVB rays), there may be better UVA protection in higher SPF. This is due to the PPD method that recommends a UVA:UVB ratio of 1:3.
In terms of how to shrink pores with sunscreen, the aim is to prevent the reduction of collagen and elasticity within the skin. As mentioned before, prolonged exposure to UV radiation (aka. Not wearing sunscreen on a daily basis) is one of the main causes of collagen and elastin breakdown within the skin. In addition, UV exposure may also increase sebum production.
Broad-spectrum non-comedogenic sunscreen product recommendations: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50, EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF 46, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 45.
Topical retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A that can help reduce facial pore size, skin wrinkling, hyperpigmentation, skin sagging, and sebum production . While there is a large amount of research documenting the anti-aging effects of tretinoin, it is not until recently that it has demonstrated an ability to reduce pore size.
In one study, 60 women were treated with 0.025% tretinoin cream once daily for 90 days. Daily tretinoin use was found to significantly reduce pore size after 28 days of treatment and this reduction lasted for the rest of the treatment period. Furthermore, there was a high level of patient satisfaction with the treatment. Although, a small number of patients experienced erythema and a burning sensation and didn’t complete the treatment .
This study also compared the 0.025% tretinoin cream to a retinol cream and found that patient satisfaction levels were either equal or better in the retinol group. In addition, the retinol group experienced fewer side-effects. This basically means that you don’t need prescription strength retinoids to reap their pore reducing benefits.
For prescription retinoids, such as tretinoin and tazarotene you will need to see your dermatologist for advice. However, there are plenty of retinol options available over the counter (OTC) which are equally effective and generally better tolerated.
Product Recommendations: Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0, TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C-Plus Super Serum with Retinol, Replenix RetinolForte Treatment Serum.
3. Jasmonic Acid/ LR2412
Jasmonic acid is a molecule involved in plant wound repair and tissue regeneration. Recently, this molecule has been formulated into a topical anti-aging treatment known as tetra-hydro-jasmonic acid or LR2412. So far, it has demonstrated effectiveness at counteracting the signs of skin aging in a number of studies .
LR2412’s anti-aging effects are largely down to its ability to increase hyaluronic acid levels in the skin, increase epidermal thickness, and strengthen collagen .
One study found that pore size was significantly reduced after daily application of an LR2412 formulation. Additionally, LR2412 made participants skin significantly softer, smoother, and more elastic . The LR2412 formulation used for this study also included 0.2% Retinol so it is unclear whether the reduction in pore size is due to LR2412, retinol, or the combination of the two.
Nevertheless, the ability of LR2412 to strengthen collagen and improve skin elasticity suggests that it may be an effective treatment to shrink pores. Furthermore, on its own in a formulation, it can shrink pores by 25% .
Product Recommendations: Lancome Visionnaire Advanced Multi-Correcting Cream, L’Oreal Paris Youth Code Texture Perfector Serum.
4. Hydroxy Acids (AHA/BHA)
Hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid act as chemical exfoliants that can help remove dead skin cells and loosen the top layer of skin. Hydroxy acids generally fall into three main categories; alpha-hydroxy acids (e.g. glycolic acid, lactic acid), beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid – although this classification is debated), and polyhydroxy acids (e.g. lactobionic acid) . Of which, alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids have been around for decades.
One of the most reported beneficial effects of hydroxy acids is on prematurely aged skin. This is largely due to their effectiveness at increasing collagen, improving the quality of elastic fibres, and shrinking pores for a smoother complexion .
In addition, salicylic acid can offer some UVA and UVB protection for the skin when applied topically. Contrastly, AHAs can make the skin more sensitive to UV light .
Furthermore, salicylic acid is oil-soluble and is able to loosen and detach the cells and debris that build up within the hair follicle . This means that it can easily penetrate pores in order to unclog them. Salicylic acids ability to penetrate the sebaceous glands also means that it is able to significantly reduce sebum production .
Salicylic acid reduces the size of pores particularly well when combined with niacinamide (vitamin B3). In fact, a topical combination of salicylic acid and niacinamide significantly reduced pore size and surface sebum levels after 12 weeks of use .
Glycolic acid also has research to support its ability to reduce pore size. In one study, 22 Japanese women applied a 30% concentration glycolic acid solution every 2 weeks for a total of 5 treatments. More than 70% of participants saw improvement in enlarged facial pores. Specifically, conspicuous pores were improved by 34.6%, open pores by 11%, and dark pores by 34.3% .
Another study found improvement in facial pores by 28.3% with a 40% glycolic acid and vitamin C formulation .
Product Recommendations: Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads, Clarisonic Pore & Blemish Gel Cleanser,The Ordinary Peeling Solution AHA 30% + BHA 2%, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant.
On that note, the next ingredient that can shrink pores is Vitamin C…
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the most abundant natural antioxidant in the skin and is essential for collagen production . We have already mentioned that it can improve facial pores significantly when formulated with glycolic acid, although it is not clear whether the glycolic acid, vitamin C, or combination caused this reduction .
However, oral administration of vitamin c has demonstrated the ability to improve skin texture and appearance of pores as well as increasing elastin and collagen levels . Considering that even with very high doses of oral vitamin C only a small fraction is available for use by the skin , it is highly likely that topical vitamin C would provide similar effects.
Furthermore, there is a huge amount of research establishing that topical vitamin C increases collagen and elastin levels as well as offering protection against sun damage . In fact, the research for topical vitamin C is more consistent than that of oral vitamin C.
Niacinamide is vitamin B3 and has a wide range of skin benefits, including reducing redness, reducing pigmentation, improving skin barrier function, and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can also reduce surface sebum and pore size .
In addition, 5% niacinamide applied twice daily for 12 weeks significantly improves skin elasticity  which in turn can reduce pore size.
In terms of sebum reduction, niacinamide decreases the glyceride and fatty acids of surface serum. Furthermore, these reductions in surface sebum levels are accompanied by significant reductions in the appearance of pore size and rough skin texture after 4 weeks of topical treatment .
As mentioned earlier, niacinamide is particularly good at shrinking pores when combined with salicylic acid .
7. Green Tea
Topical green tea has a number of beneficial effects on a wide variety of skin conditions. This is largely down to the polyphenols (potent antioxidant molecules) that are present in green tea. Topical green tea can provide protection against UV radiation, improve facial redness, reduce sebum production, and improve acne.
Topical application of a 3% green tea formulation can reduce sebum production by 10% in one week and by 60% in 8 weeks . Although in other studies, only a 27% reduction in sebum secretion was observed after 60 days of application .
The main polyphenol in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC). Topical application of ECGC can reduce non-inflammatory acne lesions, such as blackheads, by 79% . In another study, a topical green tea extract applied twice daily for 8 weeks reduced blackheads by 61% .
While there is no research that directly addresses the effect of green tea on pore size, the fact that green tea reduces sebum production and blackheads suggests that it is highly likely to shrink pores too.
8. Alpha Lipoic Acid + DMAE
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a fatty acid and potent antioxidant that can rapidly penetrate the stratum corneum (the outer layer of the skin). It has ‘dual solubility’ meaning that it is both water soluble and oil soluble .
In one study, 5% alpha lipoic acid was placed in a lecithin-based oil in water cream with 3% dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE – a penetration enhancer) and applied twice daily. After 4 weeks of application, fine lines were improved and facial pore size had reduced. After 8 weeks of application, the smallest fine lines had completely disappeared while all other fine lines had reduced by 60% and pore size had decreased further .
Product Recommendations: Derma E Firming DMAE Moisturizer with Alpha Lipoic Acid.
9. Clay Facial Masks
The benefits of clay masks come mainly from their drying effects. Clay has absorptive properties and can draw fluid out from the skin, along with metabolic products, cellular particles, and bacterial toxins which then bind to the clay. The fine clay particles absorb sebum, clean pores and remove impurities from the skin .
In terms of reducing pore size, clay masks can absorb excess sebum and clear any debris from the hair follicle that contributes to the enlargement of pores.
In addition, topical clay application may increase collagen fibres .
While the absorptive properties of clay seem promising in the quest for smaller pores, there is very little scientific research to support its role as a pore minimiser. However, it has been used for centuries to ‘detoxify’ and there is ample anecdotal evidence to support its effectiveness at unclogging and shrinking pores.
10. Oil Cleansing
While there is very little scientific evidence regarding the role of cleansing with oil on any skin outcomes, including pore size, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence.
The theory behind oil cleansing is based on the basic chemistry principle that ‘oil dissolves oil’. Basically, oil is non-polar and, according to the US Department of Energy, in chemistry, molecules dissolve with other molecules that share similar characteristics.
This is the reason why oil and water separate when mixed together, because water is polar. Based on this principle then it seems logical that an oil applied topically to facial skin can reduce facial oil.
In fact, there is research that eucalyptus oil can control sebum production by reducing the size of sebaceous glands . However, this research was performed on rats and the effects on humans may vary.
In humans, a twice-daily application of an argan oil containing cream for 4 weeks significantly reduced sebum levels and improved the appearance of oily skin. Specifically, 95% of participants saw a visible sebum-regulating effect, with sebum levels on the forehead and cheek significantly reduced by 20%, however, the number of active sebaceous glands remained unchanged .
So, it does appear that what limited scientific research is available supports the fact that oil cleansing can actually reduce levels of sebum on the surface of the skin. The anecdotal evidence is a bit more varied, with some experiencing excellent results and others experiencing breakouts.
This may be due to the wide variety of oils available and their differing effects. For example, eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties  which means its unlikely to cause breakouts. Whereas argan oil is high in essential fatty acids, including oleic and linoleic acids . This makes argan oil particularly unsuited to those who suffer from fungal acne as the yeast involved in fungal acne feeds on long-chain fatty acids such as these . In fact, if you suffer from fungal acne, it is probably best to avoid facial oils altogether.
Anecdotally speaking, many people have found that oil cleansing draws out little plugs of trapped oil from pores that have been affectionately termed ‘grits’ by r/SkincareAddiction.
Product Recommendations: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.
11. Lasers, IPL, & Radiofrequency
Lasers, IPL, and radiofrequency treatments work by thermolysis, which is where a substance is broken down by heat. The theory behind these treatments suggests that they cause a low-level thermal injury to the dermis which encourages a wound repair response and boosts collagen .
Basically, the treatments heat up the lower levels of the skin, causing some minor damage and leading the body to try and ‘heal’ that damage. The difference between these treatments is how that heat is transferred into the skin.
Lasers have a specific wavelength and this wavelength determines how far into the skin the laser can penetrate and what structures it can target. For example, wavelengths of 418 nanometers(nm), 542nm, and 577nm are particularly good at targeting redness and blood vessels as oxyhaemoglobin (the substance that gives blood its bright red colour) absorbs light at these wavelengths .
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is often referred to as laser treatment, however, it is not a true laser as it has no specific wavelength. Instead, it is made up of multiple wavelengths (approx. 500nm – 1200nm). This effectively means that it is a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ as, while it can treat several skin conditions at the same time, it is less effective at treating any one condition .
Radiofrequency treatments use, well, radiofrequency, to heat the deeper dermis to between 65°C and 75°C without heating the epidermis enough to cause damage . Heat from radiofrequency devices is generated due to Ohm’s law – where the natural resistance of tissue to the movement of electrons within a radiofrequency field creates heat relative to the amount of current and time .
The fact that all these treatments are able to increase collagen production in the skin suggests that they would be effective treatments for reducing pore size.
One study investigated the ability of a 1064nm Nd:YAG laser to shrink pore size at a range of different settings. All settings used significantly reduced pore size after five treatments with gaps of 3-weeks between the treatments. Pore size remained decreased when assessed again 8 weeks after the last treatment. In addition, sebum levels were also reduced after treatment and remained reduced 8 weeks after the last treatment. The researchers hypothesize that the reduction in pore size was due to an increase in collagen around the hair follicle as well as the effect of the laser on the sebaceous glands .
Another study found that 1064nm Nd:YAG significantly reduced pore size with 4 treatments every two weeks . Furthermore, 1064nm wavelength lasers are effective at hair removal which may be another reason that they are effective at reducing pore size.
Fractional CO2 resurfacing lasers have also demonstrated an ability to reduce pore size. In one study, a microablative fractional CO2 laser treatment was performed 3-5 times with 3-week intervals in between. 79% of subjects achieved a ‘good to excellent’ improvement in pore sizes and skin tightening .
Additionally, 6 treatments of a nonablative fractional 1440nm laser performed 2 weeks apart reduced pore size by 17% .
In terms of radiofrequency treatments for reducing pore size, a fractional radiofrequency microneedling treatment demonstrated good effects. This is where a number of microneedles pierce the skin and deliver radiofrequency energy into the deep dermis.
Eight weeks after two sessions of this treatment, facial pore size was reduced by 58.7%. 73.3% of those treated experienced decreases in facial pore size, 23.3% experienced no change, and 3.3% experienced an increase in pore size. There were no significant changes in sebum remodelling and increases in collagen .
In terms of IPL treatment and pore size, one study found that all of the patients who had enlarged pores before treatment experienced less visibly noticeable improvements in pore size after 3 IPL treatments . In another study, patients underwent 4-6 sessions of IPL with a 3-week interval between treatments. 67% of people treated reported at least a 50% improvement in the appearance of their pores .
A further study compared IPL, Botox, and a combination of IPL and Botox on various different markers of sun damaged skin. While the combination of IPL and Botox was more effective at improving fine lines than either treatment alone, pore size was equally improved with IPL, Botox, and the IPL Botox combination .
Which brings us onto our next treatment…
Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) has been used for over a decade to treat fine lines and wrinkles by reducing facial muscle movement. Some research has identified that Botox can also reduce pore size. In one study, the addition of Botox to an IPL treatment resulted in a slight improvement in pore size than IPL alone .
As mentioned earlier, Botox improved pore size when used alone as a treatment as well as when in combination with IPL . In addition, a new technique that combines traditional intramuscular Botox injections with intradermal Botox injections can relax smooth muscle that surrounds blood vessels in the dermis. This leads to a fluid build-up in the dermal layer which can make the skin look tighter and reduce the appearance of pores .
Sub-dermal Botox injections are also used to stop excessive sweating in individuals with hyperhidrosis. The Botox blocks the nerve signals that instruct the sweat glands to sweat and it is thought that there may be a similar effect on the sebaceous glands .
In fact, one study demonstrated that intradermal Botox improves both sebum production and pore size one month after injection . The finding that intradermal Botox reduces sebum has been replicated in a number of other studies, identifying the treatment as potentially pore reducing .
13. Microdermabrasion & Other Physical Exfoliation
We have already mentioned how a number of different chemical exfoliants, such as retinoids and hydroxy acids, can help shrink large pores and physical exfoliants work in a similar way.
Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure that uses aluminium oxide crystals to exfoliate and rejuvenate skin. It can be used to help treat acne, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and improve or correct large pores. The treatment uses a closed loop system, where the aluminium crystals are projected onto the skin and vacuumed away along with dead skin cells and debris .
In one study, a microdermabrasion treatment once a week for 6 weeks significantly reduced pore size, fine wrinkles and pigmentation . The effectiveness of microdermabrasion on large pores has been demonstrated both visually and microscopically .
The effect of microdermabrasion on sebum production and collagen levels are conflicting. Some research has suggested that microdermabrasion can reduce sebum levels , while other research found that sebum levels were increased one week after microdermabrasion . Similarly, while some studies have found increased elastin content of skin after microdermabrasion, the treatment generally has not been found to increase collagen levels .
Therefore, it’s hard to tell whether the reduction in pore size experienced with microdermabrasion is due to changes in sebum production or purely the removal of dead skin cells and skin surface debris.
The majority of research regarding physical exfoliation and pore size focusses mainly on microdermabrasion. However, similar effects can be found with other physical exfoliants, including Clarisonic brushes and facial scrubs.
For example, Clarisonic brushes use sonic energy in a similar way that an electric toothbrush does. The brush applies bidirectional motion to loosen and detach the ‘plug’ of skin debris and sebum from the wall of the pore. Once the plug is detached from the pore wall, it can be ‘swept-away’ by the brush .
When a Clarisonic brush was used in combination with a deep pore cleanser daily and a clay mask twice weekly, there was a 25% reduction in the number of visible pores and a 23% reduction in pore size after 2 weeks . This seems to provide evidence for the ability of both Clarisonic brushes and clay masks to reduce pore size. However, the research was performed by the manufacturer of the Clarisonic brush which may suggest some element of bias.
Both microdermabrasion and Clarisonic brush use can help topical treatments absorb into the skin more effectively and therefore enhance the ability of the topical treatments to shrink pores.
Product Recommendations: Clarisonic Mia Prima Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush.
14. Microneedling/ Dermarolling
Another treatment that can enhance the absorption of topical agents into the skin is Microneedling.
Microneedling and dermarolling are slightly different treatments but share the same underlying principle – using a number of small needles to induce a controlled skin injury and encourage a wound healing response. This stimulates collagen and elastin production and distribution within the dermis .
This is a similar process to how lasers work, but rather than using heat to incite a wound repair response, microneedling creates micro wounds instead. In this way, microneedling has less risk of pigmentation changes in darker skin types as long as UV exposure is avoided in treated areas the week following treatment.
Microneedling treatments have been shown to significantly increase collagen and elastin production in the skin after a series of six sessions. Furthermore, the amount of dermal collagen was reported to improve with each treatment . This suggests that microneedling has a cumulative effect on collagen production.
Most studies indicate a delay of at least 6-8 weeks from the beginning of treatment to clinically apparent results from dermal collagen production . The increase in collagen production leads to an improved skin appearance by reducing fine lines and wrinkles and reducing pore size .
These effects are enhanced when microneedling is combined with topical antiaging products such as vitamin C and tretinoin . The combination of microneedling with a topical formulation containing human stem cells has also demonstrated a significant reduction in pore size as well as reductions in fine lines and wrinkles .
As mentioned earlier, microneedling is also effective at reducing pore size when combined with radiofrequency .
Important Note: Caution is advised when using topical treatments in combination with microneedling as the creation of channels within the epidermis and dermis can act as a gateway into the body and may cause an immune response!
There are a number of microneedling devices, such as dermarollers, available to reduce pore size, fine lines, and sebum production at home. They can be used 2-3 times a week for up to 100 times and it is advised that the rollers are cleaned in hot tap water and shaken dry after each use . Alternatively, there are home dermaroller devices that come with a number of disposable sterile rollers.
Microneedling is often combined with hyaluronic acid to enhance the effects of hyaluronic acid by enabling easier access to the dermis. Recent research has demonstrated that intradermal hyaluronic acid can reduce sebum levels  and reduce the size of facial pores .
Product Recommendations: SDARA Skincare Microneedle Derma Roller.
That brings us onto our next pore reducing treatment…
15. Hyaluronic Acid Fillers
Some recent research has identified that intradermal hyaluronic acid injections can reduce sebum levels and reduce the size of facial pores.
In a study investigating the effects of hyaluronic acid on sebum production, 20 volunteers had hyaluronic acid injected intradermally to one side of their face and saline-injected intradermally on the other. A significant decrease in sebum production was found 2 weeks after injection on the hyaluronic acid treated side, whereas no difference was found on the control saline-treated side .
When a low molecular weight hyaluronic acid was injected intradermally into the faces of 42 patients every 1-1.5 months for a total of 2-5 treatments, there was a statistically significant improvement in pore size. Furthermore, 92.8% of patients were satisfied with their improved complexion. The authors conclude that intradermal injection of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid can significantly improve skin texture, reduce pore size, and enhance skin radiance .
These studies appear to identify intradermal hyaluronic acid as a potential sebum reducer and pore shrinker. However, the research is still very new and a number of further studies are ideally needed in order to confirm this effect.
What Causes Large Pores?
There a number of causes of large pores, but the main causes appear to be increased sebum production and reduced skin elasticity.
Why Are The Pores On My Nose So Big?
Pores are generally bigger on the nose and central cheek area as these are the areas of the face that usually produce the most oil. In addition, the nose is often subjected to more sun damage than the rest of the face. This is due to the fact that it protrudes from the face.
Why Are The Pores On My Face Getting Bigger?
The pores on your face are likely getting bigger due to decreases in the elasticity of the skin that come with age and cumulative sun damage. In theory, if you protect your skin from UV radiation by wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen every day, your pores may get smaller with age as sebum production decreases the older you get. However, eventually the natural aging process will kick in and skin levels of collagen and elastin will decrease and pore size may increase.
Is It Possible To Shrink Pores?
While pore size is largely genetic, there are a number of ways to minimize or ‘shrink’ pores. Namely by targeting sebum production and collagen and elastin levels in the skin. The most important step is to prevent pores from getting larger by protecting your skin from UV radiation. In fact, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily is the best thing you can do for your skin.
After this, there are a number of topical treatments that you can incorporate into your skincare routine in order to help reduce pore size. These include retinoids, vitamin C, hydroxy acids, niacinamide, jasmonic acid, green tea, and clay.
In terms of laser treatments, 1064nm wavelength lasers, IPL, and CO2 resurfacing lasers (e.g. Fraxel) have demonstrated an ability to reduce pore size by boosting collagen production in the skin. In addition, radiofrequency treatments can reduce pore size, particularly when combined with microneedling.
Now that we’ve been through the evidence and identified a number of different products and treatments that can shrink pores, here are the products that we recommend…
Clarisonic Mia Facial Cleansing Brush
This Clarisonic brush uses sonic energy and oscillating bristles to detach the plugs of skin debris and sebum from pore walls so that the bristles can ‘sweep it away’. The brush is waterproof which means you can use it in the shower or bath, as well as over the sink. Adding a Clarisonic brush into your cleansing routine can reduce the appearance of pores and allow your skincare products to absorb more efficiently!
Clarisonic Pore & Blemish Gel Cleanser
Pair your Clarisonic brush with a deep pore cleanser, such as the Clarisonic Pore & Blemish Gel Cleanser. This cleanser is designed to work in harmony with the Clarisonic brush and penetrate deep into pores for optimal pore reducing effects. Formulated with 2% Salicylic Acid and Lipo Hydroxy Acid, both of which have evidence supporting their pore shrinking effects, this cleanser is fragrance-free, soap-free, paraben-free, pH balanced and dermatologically tested.
Sand & Sky Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask
This best-selling face mask contains Australian pink clay to draw out dirt and debris from deep within the pores. In addition, antioxidant-rich fruit extracts boost cellular turnover, reduce pigmentation, and brighten skin. It also comes with a handy applicator brush so that you don’t end up with clay under your nails! #winner! Use 1-2 times a week if you have dry or sensitive skin or 2-3 times a week if you have combination to oily skin. A little goes a long way with this face mask and clay masks, in general, can be a little drying so be sure to use a hydrating serum after use.
To really ‘get the grits’ out of your pores, apply 20 minutes after a salicylic acid serum, such as Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, and follow with a cleansing oil.
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
One of the most popular cleansing oils on the market, DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil is rich in vitamins and antioxidants courtesy of its key ingredients; olive fruit oil, rosemary leaf oil, and vitamin E. These key ingredients help to maintain the skins moisture barrier, protect the skin against environmental pollution and free radicals, and tone the skin. When combined with water it creates a milky, vitamin-rich emulsion that is easily washed away so that skin is not left feeling greasy. This cleansing oil is suitable for all skin types, but DHC also offers cleansing oils targetted at specific skin types. For example, DHC Pore Cleansing Oil for combination and oily skin types, and DHC Olive Concentrated Cleansing Oil for normal and dry skin types.
Apply after your twice-weekly clay mask for ultimate pore unclogging effects – apply to dry skin and leave for a couple of minutes, then massage into congested areas for a maximum of 3 minutes and wash away. Viola! Grits be gone!
So can you shrink pores? The evidence says yes you can! In fact, we’ve just discussed 18 evidence-based ways to shrink your pores!
Pin this article to save for later:
- Pierard, G., Pierard-Franchimont, C., Marks, R., Paye, M. & Rogiers, V. (2000). ‘EEMCO guidance for the in vivo assessment of skin greasiness’, Skin Pharmacol Appl skin Physiol., 13, 372-389.
- Uhoda, E., Pierard-Frenchimont, C., Petit, L. & Pierard, G. (2005). ‘The conundrum of skin pores in dermocosmetology’, Dermatology, 210, 3-7.
- Lee, S., Seok, J., Jeong, S., Park, K., Li, K. & Seo, S. (2016). ‘Facial pores: definition, causes, and treatment options’, Dermatologic Surg., 42(3), 277-285.
- Kim, B., Choi, J., Park, K. & Youn, S (2011). ‘Sebum, acne, skin elasticity, and gender difference – which is the major influencing factor for facial pores?’ Skin Res Tech, 19(1), e45-e53.
- Jacobsen, E., Billings, J., Frants, R. et al. (1985). ‘Age-related changes in sebum secretion rate in men and women’, J Invest Dermatol, 85, 483-485.
- Roh, M., Han, M., Kim, D. & Chung, K. (2006). ‘Sebum output as a factor contributing to the size of facial pores’, British Journal of Dermatology, 155(5), 890-894.
- Uitto, J. (2008). ‘The role of elastin and collagen in cutaneous aging: intrinsic aging vs photoexposure’, J Drugs Dermatol, 7 (Supp 2), S12-S16.
- Wang, Y., Fang, H., Wang, H. & Chen, H. (2010). ‘Effect of chronic exposure to ultraviolet on skin barrier function’, Zhejiang Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban, 39(5), 517-522.
- Akitomo, Y., Akamatsu, H., Okano, Y., Masaki, H. & Horio, T. (2003). ‘Effects of UV irradiation on the sebaceous gland and sebum secretion in hamsters’, J Dermatol Sci., 31(2), 151-159.
- Lastowiecka-Moras, E., Bugajska, J. & Mlynarczyk, B. (2014). ‘Occupational exposure to natural UV radiation and premature skin aging’, Int J Occup Safety Ergonomics., 20(4), 639-645.
- Mukherjee, S., Date, A., Patravale, V. et al. (2006). ‘Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety’, Clin Interv Aging, 1, 327-348.
- Bouloc, A., Verganini, A. & Issa, M. (2015). ‘A double-blind randomized study comparing the association of retinol and LR2412 with tretinoin 0.025% in photoaged skin’, J Cosmet Dermatol, 14, 40-46.
- Michelet, J., Olive, C., Rieux, E. et al. (2012). ‘The anti-aging potential of a new jasmonic acid derivative (LR2412): in vitro evaluation using reconstructed epidermis’, Exp Dermatol, 21, 398-400.
- Tran, C., Michelet, J., Simonetti, L. et al. (2014). ‘In vitro and in vivo studies with tetra-hydro-jasmonic acid (LR2412) reveal its potential to correct signs of skin ageing’, J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol, 28, 415-423.
- Alexiades, M. (2016). ‘Jasmonates and tetrahydrojasmonic acid: a novel class of anti-aging molecules’, J Drugs Dermatol, 15, 206-207.
- Kornhauser, A., Coelho, S. & Hearing, V. (2010). ‘Applications of hydroxyl acids: classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity’, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol, 3, 135-142.
- Green, B. (2005). ‘After 30 years…the future of hydroxyacids’, J Cosmet Dermatol., 4(1), 44-45.
- Davies, M. & Marks, R. (1976). ‘Studies on the effect of salicylic acid on normal skin’, Br J Dermatol., 95(2), 187-192.
- Marczyk, B., Mucha, P., Budzisz, E., Rotsztein, H. (2014). ‘Comparitive study of the effect of 50% pyruvic and 30% salicylic peels on the skin lipid film in patients with acne vulgaris’, J Cosmet Dermatol, 13(1), 15-21.
- Berson, D., Osborne, R., Oblong, J., Hakozaki, T., Jonson, M. & Bissett, D. (2014). ‘Chapter 10: Niacinamide: A topical vitamin with wide-ranging skin appearance benefits’, Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Practice: First Edn. John Wiley & Sons ltd.
- Kakudo, N., Kushida, S., Tanaka, N. et al. (2011). ‘A novel method to measure conspicuous facial pores using computer analysis of digital-camera-captured images: the effect of glycolic acid chemical peeling’, Skin Res Technol., 17, 427-433.
- Kim, W. (2013). ‘Efficacy and safety of a new superficial chemical peel using alpha-hydroxy acid, vitamin C and oxygen for melasma’, J Cosmet Laser Therapy, 15, 21-24.
- Manela-Azulay, M. & Bagatin, E. (2009). ‘Cosmeceuticals vitamins’. Clinical Dermatology, 27, 469-474.
- Costa, A., Pegas Pereira, E. et al. (2015). ‘Assessment of clinical effects and safety of an oral supplement based on marine protein, vitamin C, grape seed extract, zinc, and tomato extract in the improvement of visible signs of skin aging in men’. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol, 8, 319-328.
- Al-Niaimi, F. & Chiang, N. (2017). ‘Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications’. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 10(7), 14-17.
- Fitzpatrick, R. & Rostan, E. (2002). ‘Double-blind, half-face study comparing topical vitamin C and vehicle for rejuvenation of photodamage’, Dermatol Surg, 28(3), 231-236.
- Humbert, P., Hafteck, M., Creidi, P. et al. (2003). ‘Topical ascorbic acid on photoaged skin. Clinical, topographical and ultrastructural evaluation: double-blind study vs. placebo’, Exp Dermatol, 12(3), 237-244.
- Bissett, D., Oblong, J. & Berge, C. (2006). ‘Niacinamide: A B Vitamin that Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance’. Dermatologic Surgery, 31(1).
- Mahmood, T., Akhtar, N., Khan, B. & Saeed, T. (2010). ‘Outcomes of 3% green tea emulsion on skin sebum production in male volunteers’, Bosn J Basic Med. Sci., 10(3), 260-264.
- Mahmood, T., Akhtar, N. & Moldovan, C. (2013). ‘A comparison of the effects of topical green tea and lotus on facial sebum control in healthy humans’, Hippokratia, 17(1), pp. 64-67.
- Yoon, J., Kwon, H., Min, S., Thiboutot, D. & Suh, D. (2013). ‘Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P.acnes’, J Invest Dermatol, 133(2), 429-440.
- Jung, M., Ha, S., Son, J., Song, J., Houh, Y., Cho, E., Chun, J., Yoon, S., Yang, Y., Bang, S., Kim, M., Park, H. & Cho, D. (2012). ‘Polyphenon-60 displays a therapeutic effect on acne by suppression of TLR2 and IL-8 expression via down-regulating the ERK1/2 pathway’. Arch Dermatol Res, 304(8), 655-663.
- Packer, L., Witt, E. & Tritschler, H. (1995). ‘Alpha lipoic acid as a biological antioxidant’, Free Radic Biol Med., 19, 227-250.
- Perricone, N. (2000). ‘Topical 5% alpha lipoic acid cream in the treatment of cutaneous rhytids’, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 20(3), 218-222.
- Meier, L., Strange, R., Michalsen, A. & Uehleke, B. (2012). ‘Clay jojoba oil facial mask for lesioed skin and mild acne: results of a prospective, observational pilot study’, Research in Complementary Medicine, 19(2), 75-79.
- Valenti, D., Silva, J., Teodoro, W. et al. (2012). ‘Effect of topical clay application on the synthesis of collagen in skin: an experimental study’, Clin Exp Dermatol., 37(2), 164-168.
- Bhatt, D., Sachan, A., Jain, S. & Barik, R. (2011). ‘Studies on inhibitory effect of Eucalyptus oil on sebaceous glands for the management of acne’, Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources, 2(3), 345-349.
- Dobrev, H. (2007). ‘Clinical and instrumental study of the efficacy of a new sebum control cream’,J Cosm Dermatol, 6(2), 113-118.
- Wilde, P. & Stewart, P. (1968). ‘A study of the fatty acid metabolism of the yeast pityrosporum ovale’, Biochem, 108, 225-231.
- Menaker, G., Wrone, D., Williams, R. & Moy, R. (1999). ‘Treatment of facial rhytids with a nonablative laser: a clinical and histological study’. Dermatologic Surgery, 25, 440-444.
- Alster, T. & McMeekin, T. (1996). ‘Improvement of facial acne scars by the 585nm flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser’. J Am Acad Dermatol, 35(1), 79-81.
- Sadick, N. & Weiss, R. (2002). ‘Intense pulsed-light photorejuvination’, Semin Cutan Med Surg., 21(4), 280-287.
- Fisher, G., Jacobson, L., Bernstein, L., Kim, K. & Geronemus, R. (2005). ‘Nonablative radiofrequency treatment of facial laxity’. Dermatologic Surgery, 31, 1237-1241.
- Atiyeh, B. & Dibo, S. (2009). ‘Nonsurgical Nonablative Treatment of Aging skin: Radiofrequency Technologies Between Aggressive Marketing and Evidence-Based Efficacy’. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 33, 283-294.
- Roh, M., Chung, H. & Chung, K. (2009). ‘Effects of various parameters of the 1064nm Nd:YAG laser for the treatment of enlarged facial pores’, J Dermatol Treatment., 20(4), 223-228.
- Lee, C., Kim, Y., Lee, H. & Kim, H. (2009). ‘Effects of Q-switched and long-pulsed 1064nm Nd:YAG laser on enlarged facial pores’, Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, 25(6), 328-330.
- Katz, B. (2010). ‘Efficacy of a new fractional [email protected] laser in the treatment of photodamage and acne scarring’, Dermatologic Therapy, 23(4), 403-406.
- Saedi, N., Petrell, K., Arndt, K. & Dover, J. (2012). ‘Evaluating facial pores and skin texture after low-energy nonablative fractional 1440-nm laser treatments’, J Am Acad Dermatol, 68(1), 113-118.
- Cho, S., Chung, B., Choi, M., Baek, J. et al. (2012). ‘Evaluation of the clinical efficacy of fractional radiofrequency microneedle treatment in acne scars and large facial pores’, Dermatol Surg, 1-8.
- Kligman, D. & Zhen, Y. (2004). ‘Intense pulsed light treatment of photoaged facial skin’, Dermatol Surg., 30, 1085-1090.
- Bitter, P. (2000). ‘Noninvasive rejuvenation of photodamaged skin using serial, full-face intense pulsed light treatments’, Dermatol Surg, 26(9), 835-843.
- Khoury, J., Saluja, R. & Goldman, M. (2008). ‘The effect of botulinum toxin type a on full-face intense pulsed light treatment: A randomized, double-blind, split face study’, Dermatol Surg, 34(8), 1062-1069.
- Carruthers, J. & Caruthers, A. (2004). ‘The effect of full-face broadband light treatments alone and in combination with bilateral crow’s feet Botulinum toxin type A chemodenervation’, Dermatol Surg, 30(3), 355-366.
- Seo, K. (2005). ‘Clinical tips and recent advances in cosmetic uses of botulinum toxin including mesobotox’, J Korean Med Assoc., 48(12), 1225-1232.
- Doft, M., Hardy, K. & Ascherman, J. (2012). ‘Treatment of hyperhidrosis with botulinum toxin’, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 32(2), 238-244.
- Shah, A. (2008). ‘Use of intradermal botulinum toxin to reduce sebum production and facial pore size’, J Drugs Dermatol., 7(9), 847-850.
- Rose, A. & Goldberg, D. (2013). ‘safety and efficacy of intradermal injection of botulinum toxin for the treatment of oily skin’, Dermatol Surg., 39(3 Part 1), 443-448.
- Li, Z., Park, S., Sohn, K. et al. (2013). ‘regulation of lipid production by acetylcholine signalling in human sebaceous glands’, J Dermatol Sci., 72(2), 116-122.
- Bhalla, M. & Thami, G. (2006). ‘Microdermabrasion: Reappraisal and brief review of literature’, Dermatol Surg., 32(6), 809-814.
- Spencer, J. & Kurtz, E. (2006). ‘Approaches to document the efficacy and safety of microdermabrasion’, Dermatol Surg, 32(11).
- Hernandez-Perez, E. & Ibiett, E. (2001). ‘Gross and microscopic findings in patients undergoing microdermabrasion for facial rejuvination’, Dermatol Surg., 27(7), 637-640.
- Tan, M., Spencer, J. & Piers, L. et al. (2001). ‘The evaluation of aluminium oxide crystal microdermabrasion for photodamage’, Dermatol Surg, 27, 943-949.
- Rajan, P. & Grimes, P. (2002). ‘Skin barrier changes induced by aluminium oxide and sodium chloride microdermabrasion’, Dermatol Surg, 28(5), 390-393.
- Shpall, R., Beddingfield, F., Watson, D. & Lask, G. (2004). ‘Microdermabrasion: A review’, Facial Plast Surg, 20(1), 47-50.
- Akridge, R. & Pilcher, K. (2006). ‘Development of sonic technology for the daily cleansing of the skin’, J Cosm Dermatol., 5(2), 181-183.
- Koski, N., Henes, E., Jaquet, C. et al. (2014). ‘Evaluation of a sonic brush, cleanser, and clay mask on deep pore cleansing and appearance of facial pores through a new image analysis software methodology’, J Acad Dermatol., 70(5), AB16.
- Singh, A. & Yadav, S. (2016). ‘Microneedling: Advances and widening horizons’, Indian Dermatol Online J., 7(4), 244-254.
- El-Domyati, M., Barakat, M., Awad, S. et al. (2015). ‘Microneedling therapy for atrophic acne scars: an objective evaluation’, J Clin Aesthet Dermatol., 8(7), 36-42.
- Alster, T. & Graham, P. (2017). ‘Microneedling: A review and practical guide’, Dermatol Surg, 0, 1-8.
- Lee, H., Lee, E., Kang, S. et al. (2014). ‘Efficacy of microneedling plus human stem cell conditioned medium for skin rejuvenation: A randomizes, controlled, blinded split-face study’, Ann Dermatol., 26(5), 584-591.
- Jung, Y., Hwang, C., Ha, J. et al. (2017). ‘Hyaluronic acid decreases lipid synthesis in sebaceous glands’, J Invest Dermatol., 137(6), 1215-1222.
- Qian, W., Zhang, Y., Hou, Y. et al. (2017). ‘Effect analysis of intradermal hyaluronic acid injection to treat enlarged facial pores’, J Cosmet Dermatol, 17(4).