Pores: How To Shrink Enlarged Pores

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What are pores on skin

A pore is a colloquial term for a tiny, hardly visible little opening on the surface of our skin. Every pore is connected with a duct (deferent duct) which contains the hair follicle shaft and an attached Oil gland (sebaceous gland). The oil gland produces an oil called sebum which spreads across our skin and lubricates it. 

How pores get bigger

In summary, enlarged pores are caused by the following reasons: overproduction of sebum (oil), inflammation, aging, sun damage, acne and increased production of sebum during menstrual cycle.


Overproduction of sebum from the oil glands of the pores leads to widening of the pores. This causes accumulation of excess sebum in the ducts of the sebaceous gland. So basically, an overproduction of sebum fills up the duct of the pores thereby making the pores larger in size. That is why large pores are a common issue for people with oily skin.


Other factors that make pores bigger include inflammation, aging and sun damage that damages the fine fiber network of connective tissues around the duct of the oil glands and when this fibre network is damaged, it can’t support the duct connected to the pores anymore. That also contributes to enlargement of pores. As we age, our skin becomes less elastic and there is not much we can do about it. However, sun damage can also cause premature aging of the skin. Some people wonder that they never had an acne problem, nor did they have oily skin, but in their 40s or 50s their pores started to enlarge. This is the effect of photo aging and a preventative strategy against that is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen.


Acne clogs the pores and causes inflammation which is also associated with enlarging the pores. 


Some Women see a correlation between their menstrual cycle and the noticeability of the pores. Progesterone levels which are increased during ovulation increase the rate of oil production in the skin potentially increasing the noticeability of the pores on the skin.


Lastly, genetics also play a role in enlarged pores. Ethnicities with African and Indian ancestry may have more chances of enlarged pores.

What do large pores look like

How Enlarged pores look like in men. Black and White picture

What do enlarged pores look like in women

How to close enlarged pores

You may also wonder how to open your pores? The opening and closing of the pores is a lie. That is a myth which never happens. There is no way and no reason to close your pores completely. However, there are ways to make them appear less prominent on our skin. The biggest secret to making your pores look smaller is keeping them clean.

How to shrink enlarged pores

Pores are a vital part of the skin so the concern is not to get rid of them, but how to improve the complexion so they are less visible. 


  1. Use a cleanser twice a day to clean up dead cells, dirt and excess oils so they don’t clog your pores and result in acne and enlarged pores. Cleanse gently and properly, getting rid of all the dirt. Avoid strong alcohol based astringents and drying solutions.
  2. Use a topical Retinoid serum (Vitamin A). It helps to remove the top layer of dead skin which surfaces the new layer of smooth skin that is more healthy looking.
  3. For Exfoliation, use a leave-on salicylic acid gel or liquid applied to the skin before going to bed. Salicylic acid (BHA) can help break down clogged pores.
  4. Niacinamide improves the elasticity of the skin which in turn can potentially reduce the appearance of enlarged pores.
  5. Sit in a Steam room or get steam. This enlarges your pores however they get back to normal size. The steam helps open up pores and get that dirt and excess oil flowing out. 
  6. Using a Clay Mask gets rid of the excess sebum on the skin and gives an instant look of firm skin and smaller looking pores. However, Clay Masks can be very drying. 
  7. Use an anti-inflammatory essential oil like clove and cinnamon bark oil which kills the bacteria on the skin. 
  8. Exfoliate your skin with a chemical exfoliant. Do not use physical exfoliants like scrubs. Avoid the temptation to use a scrub or a harsh exfoliant on your face. You really can’t scrub away blackheads and whiteheads, so stop trying. It will only make matters worse by increasing the flakiness of your skin. Flaky skin has nowhere to go, except going in and clogging your pores.
  9. Use a chemical peel if your pores are enlarged due to excess sebum production. Peels with Salicylic Acid speed up the production of new skin cells (cell turnover) and Glycolic Acid based chemical peels can improve the appearance of enlarged pores.
  10. Apply a zinc oxide lotion at night on areas with enlarged pores.
  11. Use a Moisturizer. Drying out the skin actually further increases the rate of oil production. That is why moisturizer is one of the most important products that every skin type should use.
  12. If you are overweight and you lose weight, it can reduce sebum production and appearance of enlarged pores.
  13. Don’t use pore removal tools. They leave small scars or make the pore even bigger.

How to reduce appearance of Pores INSTANTLY

Use an ice clay mask. Keep the clay mask 24 hours in the fridge and then apply the mask where you have pores. The cold temperature along with the clay mask takes away all that dirt out of the pores and makes your skin absolutely pore-less instantly.

How to prevent enlarged pores

  1. Never go to bed without cleansing your face and applying a moisturizer. Use a cleanser that is pH neutral. The pH of our skin is 5.5. Cleanse and moisturize before going to bed.
  2. Use light moisturizers
  3. Use sunscreen to protect yourself from UVA and UVB radiation. Even if it is cloudy, the sun radiation can still penetrate and damage your skin. So always wear sunscreen.
  4. Avoid oil-based or lipid rich cosmetics on oily skin.
  5. Reduce the intake of dairy products. Don’t drink more than 200ml of cow milk per day as they stimulate insulin and certain growth hormones which in turn boost sebum production which may cause enlarged pores.
  6. Reduce the consumption of food high in sugar as they lift up the insulin level in your blood which induces the activity of oil glands in your skin.
  7. Don’t smoke as it has caused many problems with the skin like reduced blood flow and altered composition of sebum. Tobacco smoke activates enzymes in your skin which destroys the collagen faster than UV exposure. A destructive combination is tobacco smoke with UV exposure. It also causes a specific type of enlarged pores called smokers comedones.

You might think you can’t but at this day and age you can do it because your addiction to nicotine can be satisfied if you Switch to vaping. You don’t need extra poisonous toxins and tar in your lungs that degrade your entire body, including your skin.

  1. Use non comedogenic skin care products (those that don’t clog pores). Look for products that say “non-comedogenic”, “oil free” and “won't clog pores”. Comedogenic ingredients that should not be in your skin care products are coconut oil, isopropyl myristate, olive oil etc.

Enlarged Pores Treatment by a Dermatologist

Treating Permanently Damaged Pores


You can book an appointment with a dermatologist to examine your pores and they can tell you if skincare procedures like chemical peels, needling or laser and light treatments like IPL devices can have a beneficial impact on the size of your pores.


However, a treatment isn’t going to permanently and instantly change the appearance of your enlarged pores. You will have to follow a maintenance regimen as we discussed in this article. Peels and laser treatments are a good option to expedite the appearance of pores

Shrinking The Pores

Physically Shrinking your pores is unfortunately impossible. Pore size is determined by various different factors like genetics and climate that you are in. Once your pore increases to a certain size, there is no going back and they are going to remain that big.

However, there are ways to make your pores look more invisible and less noticeable.

Recommended Product: Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid.

This is one of the best seller skincare products all over the world. Just the first use of this treatment will make your Pores look smaller and more clean.

Interesting Facts about Pores

  • Although enlarged pores are common between all ages and all ethnicities, certain ethnicities tend to have larger pores for instance, those with African and Indian ancestry.
  • If you wear makeup, enlarged pores can make a very textured look on your face.

Product Recommendations to get rid of enlarged pores

  1. Daily Exfoliation: COSRX ABC Daily Toner

Contains AHA, BHA and Vit C

  1. Chemical Peel: The Ordinary AHA BHA Peeling Solution
  2. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
  3. Retinoid: The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane
  4. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for dehydrated skin
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