Large pores and how to shrink them

How to get rid of enlarged pores, according to dermatologists

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Curology Team
Jan 14, 2020 · 4 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Big pores on your face, nose, or cheeks 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 shrink pores naturally, according to recent medical research.

Why are my pores so big?

There are several causes of large pores.

  1. 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.

  2. Oil production — If you’re a super-oily skin type, you might notice your pores look bigger. This can be a symptom of seborrhea (or excessive oil production).

  3. Sun damage — Sun exposure breaks down collagen, which is the support structure surrounding the pores — meaning that they can appear to expand when that support breaks down. This is just one of the many reasons you should wear sunscreen!

Fun fact — acne doesn’t 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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Can you close open pores?

The best thing you can do to prevent the appearance of enlarged pores is to protect your skin from sun damage. Vigilant and proper sunscreen application is your best defense.

Open pores on the face can’t truly be closed — but that hasn’t stopped people from asking their dermatologist. While more clinical research is needed to find the best 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 treating large pores. According to the review, a double-blind study found that tretinoin was measurably better at reducing the appearance of large pores compared to retinol — but both can work. If you haven’t seen results with over-the-counter products, a prescription for a tretinoin cream may be the answer. That said, because of the way tretinoin works, these results may only apply to people who have both large pores and acne.

Glycolic acid

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 two and a half months, 70% of participants noticed an improvement in the appearance of enlarged pores.

Futuristic Technology

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 pretty 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 futuristic technology is sci-fi or reality.

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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.

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