How Can I Make My Large Pores Look Smaller?

by Gio

how to shrink large pores

How the heck do you make my large pores smaller?!

It’s like they have a life of their own. No matter what you do, they keep getting bigger and bigger. It’s like they’re under a magnifying glass all day.

The most frustrating part? Pore size is genetically determined. If you were born with large pores, hard luck. You’re stuck with them.

But wait, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. You see, sometimes pores grow too large because they’re clogged. The excess sebum + dead cells stuck inside them make them swell, so they look larger than they’re supposed to.

Now, that’s something you can treat. Here are the best treatments to reduce large pores and bring them back to their original size:

You can't shrink your pores. Their size is genetically determined. But, you can make them look smaller. Click to Tweet

1. Exfoliate To Unclog Large Pores

If pores swell up when they’re clogged, it follows that removing all that crap comfortably lodged inside them will bring them back to their original size.

This is a job for salicylic acid.

Don’t fall for the marketing hype. No other exfoliant – no glycolic acid, or the Clarisonic, or scrubs with charcoal – unclog pores. I can’t stress it enough – you need salicylic acid for this.

Unlike all other exfoliants, salicylic acid gets inside the pores, where it dissolves the mixture of excess oil and dead cells that’s clogging them up.

Bonus points: this helps you avoid breakouts and blackheads, too.

Best Pick:

  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboois Glycolic Night Serum: salicylic acid + glycolic acid. Available at Sephora.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist BHA 9 For Stubborn Imperfections: salicylic acid + soothing agents. Available at Skinstore.
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% Bha Liquid ($29.00): salicylic acid + green tea. Available at Nordstrom and Feel Unique.
  • The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution ($5.30): salicylic acid. Available at Asos, Cult Beauty and Sephora.

Shop Exfoliants

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin

2. Use Retinoids To Tighten Large Pores

IMO, you should use retinoids. Period.  These babies are anti-aging superstars that slow down the aging process.

If you’ve got large pores, they go the extra mile. Here are their skincare superpowers:

  • Retinoids accelerate cellular turnover (the skin’s natural exfoliating process), making skin look younger and smoother.
  • Retinoids reduce pore size, together with wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and roughness.
  • Retinoids stimulate the production of collagen, which tightens skin. And when skin is tight, pores look smaller.

A word of warning. Retinoids can be irritating when you first start using them. They’re so powerful, skin needs time to get used to them. To avoid any problems, start with low concentrations two or three times a week, and increase both dose and frequency gradually.

Best Picks:

Shop Retinol Products

Related:What Strength Of Retinol Do You Need?

3. Try IPL To Reduce Large Pores

If money isn’t a problem for you and you can happily splurge on more expensive treatments (three sessions cost a whooping $1800!), you can try Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments.

IPL works by emitting high intensity pulses of light, which is then converted into heat energy. It can treat sun-damaged skin, scars, age spots and melasma, refine the skin’s texture, kill P. Acnes (the bacteria that causes acne), shrink oil glands, and reduce the appearance of pores, too. Phew! Is there something it can’t do?

Need more proof? According to a 2001 study, over 90% of 49 subjects who underwent four or more IPL treatments at 3-week intervals experienced a visible improvement in wrinkling, skin coarseness, irregular pigmentation, and pore size. With minimal downtime. And, no scarring.

The catch? We don’t know yet how long the effects last. So, talk to your dermatologist to see if this is a good option for you. You don’t want to spend that kind of money, and see your pores become huge again after a month, do you?

The Bottom Line

You can’t modify pore size. But if your large pores are clogged, you CAN bring them back to their original, smaller size.

How do you make your large pores look smaller? Share your tips in the comments below.

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Ana August 28, 2012 - 8:44 pm

Whenever I look at my pores I remember one quip from Will & Grace: “You have a pore in your nose you could serve dip out of!” Gross, I know.

My friend had great success with IPL (I think it was IPL) and I’ve been interested in that ever since.
The difference is she had some modeling money and considered that an investment in her career 😀 .

beautifulwithbrains August 30, 2012 - 10:46 am

Ana lol. I’m glad IPL worked well for your friend. It’s a very effective treatment, but when you consider the cost and the fact that we don’t know how long the results last, I think it’s worth doing it only as an investment too, after everything else has failed. 🙂

Janessa August 30, 2012 - 1:14 am

I have yet to buy myself a retinoid product. Do I need prescription for retinoids? Sorry if that’s a dumb question. 😀
And #3 is definitely not an option for me! Haha 😀 Maybe someday.. someday.

beautifulwithbrains August 30, 2012 - 10:51 am

Janessa, there are no dumb questions. I’m sure many people are wondering the same. 😉 Some retinoids are available only by prescription because they are quite strong and so used only to treat serious conditions like severe acne. But retinoids in smaller concentrations are also available in over the counter products. They may take a bit longer to work, but still do a great job at treating and preventing the signs of aging, speeding up cell turnover and just generally keeping skin healthy.

Janessa August 31, 2012 - 1:28 am

:] Thanks, Giorgia! You are so so wonderfu! Thank you so much for all the time and thought you put aside to answer my questions. I feel extremely lucky.

beautifulwithbrains August 31, 2012 - 10:59 am

Aww thank you and you are very welcome. I’m always glad to help when I can. 🙂

Adam Ford April 21, 2018 - 12:33 am

Tea tree oil should be on this list – considerably cheaper than IPL …

Gio April 27, 2018 - 9:18 am

Adam, it definitely is cheaper. But I consider it more of a spot treatment as it can be harsh all over the face for some skin types.

Flor April 21, 2018 - 12:14 pm

I’ll try the Salma’s retinol, hope that works. An easy trick is to use ice on the face right before the makeup. This really works for an indoor and climatized event, but never for hot places… Thanks for your tips

Gio April 27, 2018 - 9:03 am

Flor, let me know how it goes, I’m sure it’ll help. Thanks for the tip. 🙂

Cat June 4, 2018 - 6:58 pm

I use retinoids and they work in fact. But lately I’m considering doing something extra, like microneedling… Each session is about 120$ and I think we need around 10. So the price is the same compared go IPL. Any idea which is more efficient? Which treatment lasts longer?

Gio June 8, 2018 - 2:01 pm

Cat, I’d definitely go with microdermabrasion. It’s more effective to treat large pores (and wrinkles too).

Natasha December 30, 2018 - 3:27 pm

I read that once your pores are stretched out, you can never get them back to normal. I’m so happy to see that’s not true. I started using salicylic acid 2 weeks ago and I’m starting to notice a difference to the pores on my nose.

Gio January 6, 2019 - 12:59 pm

Natacha, I guess the writer was confused. If your pores are genetically large, there’s not much you can do about it. But if they’re stretched out, you can definitely get them back to normal. 🙂


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