If you don’t spend much time poring over your pores, chances are they’re small and don’t get clogged too often. But if your pores are on the larger side, you might be dealing with one or more acne-related conditions including blackheads, whiteheads and cysts. Typically, people with oily skin tend to have enlarged pores that secrete excess oil, or sebum. Larger pores are also more likely to get clogged with dead skin cells, dirt, and bacteria. Dermatologists generally treat acne-related conditions with topical antimicrobials that help disinfect the skin, and topical retinoids to help unclog pores and prevent white- and blackheads from forming. For more moderate or severe cases of acne, an oral antibiotic like erythromycin, tetracycline, doxycycline, or minocycline may be prescribed.
The fact is you can’t get rid of your pores, or even shrink them, but you can cleanse and care for your skin in ways that make pores less visible. And that includes staying out of the sun — too much sun exposure (as well as the aging process) reduces the amount of collagen in our skin, and that also causes pores to expand.
Try these at-home strategies and you might be able to avoid expensive dermatological procedures and spa treatments.
- Use a pore-refining cleanser to help break up excess oil, dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria that can clog enlarged pores.
- Give yourself a weekly pore-purifying facial treatment.
- Make your own deep-cleansing mask using ingredients such as honey, yogurt, or basic Fuller’s earth clay (find it at a health food store) and adding citrus, strawberries, banana, apple cider vinegar, or rosewater.
- Exfoliate a few times a week with a store-bought or homemade scrub, or go for an exfoliating cleansing cloth. More options to try: products that contain chemical or fruit-enzyme exfoliants such as lipohydroxy acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and alpha and beta hydroxy acids, all of which work to dissolve build-up in your pores.
- Try store-bought microdermabrasion cleansing cloths and/or polishers, which work similarly but more gently than a professional microdermabrasion treatment.
- Put your makeup to work. Products such as primers, concealers, foundation, loose mineral powder, and blotting sheets can help you maintain coverage and make large pores less visible. Just be sure to thoroughly cleanse your face at day’s end to keep pores from getting clogged with makeup residue.
If your issues are more significant, talk to your dermatologist about professional treatments such as:
- Dermatological Facials: Many dermatologists and licensed aestheticians offer professional facials that include deep cleansing, exfoliation, steaming, extractions, massage, mask, and moisturizing.
- Chemical Peels: A professional peel performed by a dermatologist or licensed aesthetician can remove dead skin cells, clear plugged pores, eliminate white- and blackheads, correct discoloration, and generate new skin growth.
- Microdermabrasion: During this deep-cleansing procedure, your practitioner “sands” your skin with a handheld device that shoots a spray of fine crystals onto your face and simultaneously vacuums them up. This non-invasive procedure produces instant pore-perfecting results. (Microdermabrasion is also effective at reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, creases, sun damage, and minor scars.)
A final word: Even though people with normal and dry skin tend to have smaller pores than those with an oily or combination complexion, they may still be susceptible to certain pore problems. Plus, skin type can change with age, or as a result of environmental factors, genetics, nutrition, or complications related to other health conditions. If you’re concerned about any skin changes, talk to your dermatologist.