Large pores on your face are one of the most common skin insecurities. Thanks to Photoshop and Facetune, many of us have been indoctrinated to believe in the myth of poreless beauty. A desire to tighten pores is one of the most common treatments patients seek from dermatologists. Here is what we know about how to help minimize pores naturally, according to recent medical research.
There are several causes of large pores.
Genetics — So many things (like the size of our hair follicles) can make pores look enlarged. Your skin might be healthy — even thriving — and have visible pores because it’s in the family.
Oil production — If you’re a super-oily skin type, you might notice your pores look bigger. This may be a symptom of seborrhea (or excessive oil production).
Sun damage — Sun exposure breaks down collagen, which is the support structure of the skin surrounding pores — meaning that pores can appear larger when that support breaks down. This is just one of the many reasons you should wear sunscreen!
Fun fact — acne doesn’t directly cause large pores, even though you might experience acne and large pores at the same time. If you’re breaking out, make sure not to pick at your skin, because this can make pores look even bigger.
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The best thing you can do to help improve the appearance of enlarged pores is to protect your skin from sun damage. Vigilant and proper sunscreen application is your best defense.
Large pores on the face can’t be "closed" — but that hasn’t stopped people from asking their dermatologist. While more clinical research is needed to find effective treatments for big pores, a recent review of clinical studies suggests there are a few promising treatments. Here are the ones that we’re most excited about:
Vitamin A derivatives (retinoids) increase the production of collagen and elastin; they’re often the first line of defense when it comes to improving the appearance of large pores. According to the review, a double-blind study found that both tretinoin and retinol helped reduce the appearance of large pores. If you haven’t seen results with other products, a prescription for a tretinoin cream (or over-the-counter retinol) may be the answer.
Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant that helps to rejuvenate the appearance of aging skin, so it makes sense that it could help those who struggle with big pores. In a clinical study, where a glycolic acid treatment was used every other week for about 2 months, 70% of participants noticed an improvement in the appearance of enlarged pores.
Pew pew! Laser, ultrasound, and radiofrequency devices in skincare are a more recent phenomenon, but there are a few that have been extensively studied to the point that their anti-aging effects are well established. There’s limited data on how these devices impact the size of pores, but early studies are promising. One study found that intense focused ultrasound treatment improved the appearance of large pores in 86–96% of participants. More research is needed to see whether this technology is sci-fi or reality.
If you want to give custom skincare a try, sign up for a free month of Curology (just pay $4.95 plus tax to cover the cost of shipping and handling). You’ll receive a custom cream prescribed to you by one of our in-house medical providers with a combination of 3 active ingredients. For no extra cost, you can complete your skincare routine with the Curology set, which includes our cleanser and your choice of moisturizer. So go ahead and treat yourself. Start your Curology free trial right now.
Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C