Here's How to Make Your Pores (Almost) Disappear

We're coming for you, blackheads

how to make pores smaller
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Before we delve into how to make pores look smaller, we're going to give it to you straight—your skin needs pores to house its natural oils, called sebum. Because of this rather inescapable reality, you can never get rid of them completely. What you can do, however, is keep your pores clear of any impurities that might make them appear larger.

Meet the Expert

  • Erika Arguello is the cofounder and product developer at Baiser Beauty.
  • Melissa Doft, MD, is a double board certified plastic surgeon in New York City.
  • Darlene Zembrod is a beauty expert at Ecco Bella.

Erika Arguello, cofounder and product developer at Baiser Beauty, says, "When pores are infected or clogged, they expand. Especially around the nose where there are more oil glands, it leaves them enlarged. While it is not possible to eliminate pores since we need them for our skin to breathe, it is possible to make enlarged pores less noticeable." It's this buildup that can lead to clogged pores.

Ahead, the simple ways to make pores appear smaller.

01 of 06

Exfoliate Regularly

Before you exfoliate, place a warm washcloth on your face for five minutes to try to open pores. Then, gently exfoliate in smooth, circular motions without applying excessive pressure to the face. Focus on problem areas where dry skin and clogged pores may be the most prominent, like on the nose and cheeks, before rinsing your face completely with warm water.

ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment, 0.5 oz $25
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Dry skin is instantly smoothed away with this intensive treatment. If you have particularly sensitive skin, this treatment may not be the best option. It's full of fruit enzymes that exfoliate away dead skin, but sometimes acid exfoliators can be harsh on sensitive skin. As a basic rule of thumb, it's better to start out exfoliating fewer times a week until you're sure about a product.

Exfoliate two to three times a week (or once, for sensitive skin) to avoid aggravating the skin.

Daily Pore Scrub
Yes to Tomatoes Daily Pore Scrub $8
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If you're prone to acne, this scrub contains salicylic acid meant to help fight breakouts.

02 of 06

Use a Gentle Cleanser

While using an exfoliating cleanser may seem like a good idea to get rid of dry skin, it might actually irritate your skin and make dryness worse. Look for gentle cleansers, like this oil-based one, that moisturize and calm skin while cleansing.

Arguello recommends the following for clear pores: "Gently massage the [formula] into your skin with clean fingers, lie down, and cover your face with a warm face cloth for several minutes to help open pores. Rinse the washcloth, and gently wipe away any excess oil. If you have time, repeat the process for even better results. Finally, rinse your face in cold water to help close the pores."

03 of 06

Always Moisturize

Moisturizing is an essential step in any skincare routine—one that will also diminish the look of pores. Dry skin produces excess oil in an attempt to alleviate dryness, but this can result in clogged pores instead. Use a gentle noncomedogenic moisturizer, and while you're at it, be sure to apply sunscreen as well. Sun damage can lessen the elasticity and collagen in your skin, which can result in enlarged pores over time. By pairing moisturizer and sunscreen, you can keep skin healthy, and that means no flared pores.

04 of 06

Use a Face Mask

Make it part of your weekend routine to use a face mask that can do a bit of gentle, deep cleaning on your pores. As with exfoliating, place a warm washcloth on your face for five minutes before applying your mask. Additionally, if you can indulge in a facial every one to two months, a professional can help extract and exfoliate deeper debris in your pores.

Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask
Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask $48
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05 of 06

Apply Topical Retinol

To shrink pores even more effectively, Melissa Doft, MD, recommends, “using non-clogging makeup, routine exfoliation, and topical retinol.” She goes on to explain that retinol, along with regular exfoliation can “increase cell turnover,” creating a smoother appearance of the skin. If enlarged pores persist, Doft recommends "fraxel to boost collagen production.” A fraxel laser can even out skin texture while an increase in collagen production tightens and rejuvenates skin.

06 of 06

Avoid Touching Your Face

One of the most important steps you can take to prevent clogged pores is to avoid touching your face. Poking and prodding at blemishes or pores might aggravate the skin and push debris deeper into pores instead. Even clean hands might aggravate flare-ups, so leave the extractions to a professional.

Not only can trying to pop any blemishes lead to further irritation, it may cause scarring, too. Keeping your hands off is the best way to make sure your blemishes heal faster and don't leave a mark afterward.

Natural Leave-on Invisible Exfoliant and Blemish Remedy
Ecco Bella Natural Leave-On Invisible Exfoliant and Blemish Remedy $20
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Darlene Zembrod of Ecco Bella says, "Salicylic acid helps to remove debris in the pore; environmental debris and dead skin cells can enlarge the pore and run the risk of blackheads forming. Invisible Daily Exfoliant is effective yet gentle, as it only digests debris and dead skin cells, leaving healthy new cells intact."

Since this is a leave-on exfoliant, it doesn't require any harsh scrubbing. It promises to gently clear away dead skin cells and acne with salicylic acid instead.

Perricone MD
Perricone MD No:Rinse Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner $45
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If you'd rather avoid scrubs, Perricone MD's Pore Minimizing Toner works well to hydrate skin. Dab it onto a cotton pad, and apply once over the face.

FAQ
  • Can you really shrink your pores?

    While pore size is genetically determined and you can't physically shrink it, certain products and practices can help diminish the appearance of pores by keeping them clear of any impurities.

  • Why do your pores appear to be big?

    According to Arguello, "When pores are infected or clogged, they expand. Especially around the nose where there are more oil glands, it leaves them enlarged."

  • What is sebum?

    Sebum is a natural oil that your skin produces to leave moisturized and protected. An overproduction of it, however, can lead to clogged pores and acne.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Roh M, Goo B, Jung J, Chung H, Chung K. Treatment of enlarged pores with the quasi long-pulsed versus Q-switched 1064 nm Nd:YAG lasers: A split-face, comparative, controlled studyLaser Ther. 2011;20(3):175-180. doi:10.5978/islsm.20.175

  2. Preissig J, Hamilton K, Markus R. Current laser resurfacing technologies: a review that delves beneath the surfaceSemin Plast Surg. 2012;26(3):109-116. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1329413

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