How to Shrink Pores: Tips for Reducing Pores on Your Face

We’ve all had that moment: you lean into the mirror and gasp as you see pores the size of moon craters sprinkled across your face. How did those get there? Why didn’t you notice them before? What can you do to get rid of them?

Unfortunately, the size of your pores is determined by your genetics, and it isn’t something you can easily change. But don’t despair—with proper skin care and a few shrinking treatments, you can minimize large pores for a more manageable complexion.

Want to learn about a specific technique? Use the links below to find the best pore-shrinking strategy for you:

Why Do My Pores Look So Big?

As we mentioned above, pores are a genetic trait. The size, shape, and oil production of each person’s pores is determined by their DNA and, for the most part, can’t be altered. But it is possible for your pores to change over time.

Pore size caused by genetics

The most common reason for enlarged pores? Aging. As you get older your body stops producing collagen and elastin—the elements of your skin that keep you looking youthful, firm, and radiant. As these substances begin to wane, your skin sags, forms wrinkles, and is more prone to dark spots. Without these plumping ingredients, pores begin to sag and look larger to the naked eye.

If you’re far too young to start seeing the signs of aging, larger-than-usual pores are probably caused by clogged skin. Because each pore is an opening to a tiny hair follicle, it’s easy for dead skin cells, oil, and dirt to get trapped inside. This effectively forms a pimple, and can stretch out your pores to make them look bigger. Popping or squeezing a pimple can also damage the structure of your pores and leave them looking larger—even after the infection has cleared.

How Do I Prevent Large Pores?

No matter the reason for that dreaded mirror moment, many women want to find a quick and easy way to minimize the pores on their face. Before you dive into costly and time-intensive treatments, try utilizing a few prevention techniques to find a long term solution to large pores. Not only will these tips reduce the visibility of your pores, but they will also boost the health of your skin as a whole for a brighter complexion.

Keep Your Skin Clean and Exfoliated

No matter if you sit in an office all day or work out in the sun, you’re bound to collect plenty of pore-clogging particles as the hours tick by. To prevent makeup and debris from settling into your skin, use an exfoliator to slough off anything that might enlarge your pores. If you’re skin isn’t particularly sensitive, feel free to exfoliate on a daily basis. For sensitive skin, two to three times a week will do the trick.

Apart from a regular exfoliation routine, cleansing your face twice a day will help shrink the look of pores as well. Opt for a gentle face wash that incudes alpha hydroxyl acids to penetrate deep into your skin. Products that are labeled as “non-comedogenic” are also a plus because it means it won’t clog up your pores. By breaking up blockage, a cleanser will help your pores return to their natural shape and keep your skin looking taut for years to come.

Are you a fan of peeling back those charcoal nose strips to see all the gunk that’s been hiding in your skin? A word of caution: while peel strips can be incredibly satisfying, using them too frequently can damage your pores. Your skin stretches with each consecutive peel, which can make each little divot look bigger over time.

Girl showing how to shrink pores

Wear Sunscreen

It’s no secret that UV rays are bad for your skin—but did you know they can counteract the process of shrinking your pores? Without the use of sunscreen, unstable molecules known as free radicals penetrate deep into your cells and damage their ability to repair themselves. Wave goodbye to all that pore-plumping collagen we talked about earlier.

The easiest way to prevent UV damage is to apply sunblock every day. Integrate an SPF primer into your morning routine and touch up your protection throughout the day with a compact mineral powder sunscreen stick. Apart from acting as a pore minimizer, sunscreen will also prevent a host of other skin problems, such as pigmentation and cancer.

Use Retinol-Based Products

When it’s time to take your skin care regimen up a notch, choose a retinol-based serum to stimulate epidermal turnover. Derived from Vitamin A, retinol products encourage your skin to exfoliate and produce more collagen to create the appearance of clean, plump pores.

If you also suffer from chronic acne, get a prescription from your doctor for Trentinoin. Essentially a stronger version of retinol, this topical cream is fantastic at smoothing out rough skin, unclogging pores, and reducing the visibility of wrinkles. Just be careful not to get too excited—Trentinoin can be rather drying at first, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Practice Proper Hygiene at the Gym and at Night

If you’re a fitness aficionado, make sure to wash your face before and after hitting the gym. Sweat during your workout can trap makeup and other dirt in your pores as you get in those gains, so it’s important to start with a clean slate even if you know you’re going to be dripping by the end of your session.

The same goes with bedtime. Remove all makeup before getting in those precious Z’s so you don’t force any debris you’ve collected throughout the day into your skin. The goal is to shrink pores, not marinate them in overnight makeup. If you’re using a retinol or Trentinoin product, it’s best to apply it before bed so the healing benefits can soak in overnight.

Girl applying makeup to shrink pores

Eat Well

You know how the saying goes: you are what you eat. If your diet is high in fat and unhealthy oils, it can inflame your skin and dull your complexion. While your pores won’t automatically get larger if you eat more junk food, a balanced diet will keep your skin in tip-top shape so you can always put your best face forward. Antioxidant rich foods are particularly good at combating the damage of free radicals—so make sure to include berries, leafy greens, nuts, and dark chocolate into your diet.

Foods to help shrink pores

What Treatments Can Shrink Pore Size?

If preventative measures just aren’t cutting it, there are several cosmetic treatments you can look into to minimize the appearance of your pores. Just remember that these might set you back a couple paychecks, and you should chat with your dermatologist before making a decision.

Facial Treatments

Acid peels and microdermabrasions are common in-office methods for boosting collagen and rejuvenating dull skin. Many of these treatments use suction to remove debris clogging your pores so they can return to their normal shape. While these procedures have been proven to be effective, without proper follow-up care it’s easy for your skin to return to an unhealthy state.

If you want to achieve similar results without the costly appointments, there are several at-home pore-plumping tools, including a microneedler. The tiny pricks from the needles stimulate collagen production to help minimize the look of large pores.

Laser Treatments

A bit less invasive than facial treatments, lasers are a great way to shrink pores permanently. Typically, this kind of procedure stimulates the deepest layer of your epidermis to get the same results as a facial—just minus the pain and redness. After three or so sessions, you should notice optimal results that last for years to come.

How Do I Use Makeup to Cover Large Pores?

You’d be surprised by how much a good ole’ layer of makeup can reduce the look of large pores. Chances are you’ve already tried to hide your complexion with foundation and only found it to make your pores look even more monstrous. The trick? A silica-based primer.

After applying your morning moisturizer, dab on an even coating of the primer. The silica (and other specially formulated ingredients) fill in large pores so your foundation goes on smoothly without settling into crevices. Instead of a heavy liquid foundation, try using mineral-based powders to achieve that flawless air-brushed look we all crave. After creating the perfect canvas, you have the green light to continue on with the rest of your cosmetic routine.

The bottom line: there are plenty of ways to help shrink the look of large pores. A glowing complexion is achievable no matter your budget, age, or skin type. But remember, the next time you look in the mirror and get discouraged, your beauty is defined by much more than the size of your pores—your talent, intelligence, humor, and positivity will bring a radiance to your skin you won’t be able to find in stores.