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  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

Minimize the appearance of enlarged pores with these 5 serums

Give your pores some TLC with these nourishing ingredients.

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Curology Team
Jan 04, 2023 · 6 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.
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  3. > Minimize the appearance of enlarged pores with these 5 serums

When you look in the mirror, is the first thing you notice the size of your pores? Have you tried to conceal them with foundation or pressed powder with little success? Ever wonder, “Why do my pores look so big?” We know the feeling. But despite their bad rap, pores are a really important part of your skin. They produce oils that are essential for keeping your skin moisturized. It’s when they become clogged with dirt and excess oil that they can cause a problem.

Pore size is a common concern—you’re not alone. The good news? Keeping your pores healthy and happy—no matter the size—can help to reduce their appearance. Face serums with ingredients that help minimize the appearance of pores can be a terrific addition to your skincare routine to address concerns about pore size. Here’s what we can tell you about caring for your pores with the right ingredients.  

What causes my pores to look enlarged?

It’s normal to have visible pores on your face, though we understand they can be a point of insecurity. You can’t permanently change the size of your pores, but you can temporarily minimize their appearance by caring for your skin and keeping your pores clear of buildup

Several factors can cause large pores:

  1. Sun damage: Collagen and elastin are essential building blocks of your skin. Too much exposure to UV rays from the sun breaks down these proteins, weakening the skin surrounding your pores and potentially causing them to look larger.

  2. Excess oil production:¹ If you have oily skin, you may notice you have large pores, too. This is because inside each pore is a gland that produces oil (aka sebum). If you experience excessive oil production, your pores may appear larger due to the large amounts of oil they release.

  3. Genetics: You don’t have control over your genes; unfortunately, they may have contributed to the development of larger pores. 

  4. Age: Those essential building blocks, elastin and collagen? Well, they break down as you age, reducing your skin’s elasticity and potentially causing your pores to widen as a result.

Where do serums come in?

Serums are formulated to target specific skincare concerns with active ingredients. Certain serums may be formulated specifically to minimize the appearance of large pores. Different pore minimizers work in unique ways, like increasing cell turnover or exfoliating away dead, pore-clogging skin cells. 

Some key ingredients of potentially pore-minimizing serums include: 

  • Tretinoin.² This retinoid—a vitamin A derivative—stimulates collagen production, helping to improve the skin’s firmness. It also speeds up the rate of skin cell turnover, decreasing the formation of clogged pores.

  • Azelaic acid. This ingredient helps remove the sebum and dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores and making them appear larger. 

  • Beta-hydroxy acids (aka BHAs). BHAs, like salicylic acid, help to clear the gunk in your pores that results from the combination of dead skin cells and excess oil (aka sebum) or another buildup. 

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (aka AHAs). AHAs increase collagen production³ and help with dull skin and clogged pores.

deep dimple on asian woman

5 serums that may help minimize the appearance of enlarged pores

1. Skinceuticals C + AHA

Ingredient shoutout: vitamin C, glycolic and lactic acids

This serum for pores includes ingredients that are commonly used to promote collagen production and increase the rate of cell turnover, to reveal smoother-appearing skin. 

2. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

Ingredient shoutout: glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids, salicylic acid

Formulated to exfoliate built-up dead skin cells and help decrease excess oil (aka sebum)  to unclog pores, this product is a great addition to your nighttime routine. 

3. Paula's Choice RESIST Advanced Pore-Refining Treatment 4% BHA

Ingredient shoutout: salicylic acid, BHA 

This serum is designed to deeply penetrate your skin to unclog and minimize the appearance of congested pores for smoother-looking skin.

4. Biossance Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum

Ingredient shoutout: lactic acid, squalane 

This vegan and cruelty-free serum are formulated to exfoliate and resurface the skin while also moisturizing the skin to help prevent overdrying.

5. Versed Just Breathe Clarifying Serum

Ingredient shoutout: niacinamide, zinc

The most affordable product on the list, this serum’s ingredients target congested pores to help manage excess oil. 

What else can I do to reduce the look of my pores?

Serums aren’t the only way you can keep your pores healthy. These are small changes you can incorporate into everyday life to address large pores:⁴

  • Use non-comedogenic products. Non-comedogenic products are specifically formulated not to clog your pores. When you’re buying makeup and skincare products, check the labels and seek out products that won’t contribute to buildup. It may help to opt for oil-free products, too.

  • Wear sunscreen. Remember when we said UV rays can break down collagen and elastin around your pores? Chalk that up to one of the many reasons you should wear SPF every day. Curology’s sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen without pore-clogging ingredients that minimizes the appearance of a white cast so you can face the day with confidence. Remember to wear SPF 30 or higher! 

  • Wash your face twice a day. Cleansing your face can reduce the amount of buildup on your skin and in your pores. If your skin can handle it, strive to wash your face morning and night with a gentle cleanser and warm water to help reduce oiliness and prevent clogged pores. 

How Curology can help

Concerned about large pores, acne-prone skin, excess sebum, or persistent buildup? Curology was founded by dermatologists and boasts a team with more than 100 years of combined experience. Become a Curology member and be paired with a medical professional who can help you learn how to minimize the appearance of pores with advice and a personalized prescription formula designed for your unique needs.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Sign up for Curology to join the four out of five patients who are more confident in their skin after 12 weeks!*

FAQs

What causes my pores to look enlarged?

It’s normal to have visible pores on your face, though we understand they can be a point of insecurity. You can’t permanently change the size of your pores, but you can temporarily minimize their appearance by caring for your skin and keeping your pores clear of buildup.

Several factors can cause large pores:

  1. Sun damage: Collagen and elastin are essential building blocks of your skin.

  2. Excess oil production: If you have oily skin, you may notice you have large pores, too. This is because inside each pore is a gland that produces oil (aka sebum).

  3. Genetics: You don’t have control over your genes; unfortunately, they may have contributed to the development of larger pores. 

  4. Age: Those essential building blocks, elastin, and collagen? Well, they break down as you age, reducing your skin’s elasticity and potentially causing your pores to widen as a result.

Where do serums come in?

Serums are formulated to target specific skincare concerns with active ingredients. Certain serums may be formulated specifically to minimize the appearance of large pores.

Some key ingredients of potentially pore-minimizing serums include: 

  • Tretinoin. This retinoid—a vitamin A derivative—stimulates collagen production, helping to improve the skin’s firmness.

  • Azelaic acid. This ingredient helps remove the sebum and dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores and making them appear larger. 

  • Beta-hydroxy acids (aka BHAs). BHAs, like salicylic acid, help to clear gunk in your pores that results from the combination of dead skin cells and excess oil (aka sebum) or other buildup. 

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (aka AHAs).AHAs increase collagen production and help with dull skin and clogged pores.

What else can I do to reduce the look of my pores?

Serums aren’t the only way you can keep your pores healthy. These are small changes you can incorporate into everyday life to address large pores:

  • Use non-comedogenic products. Non-comedogenic products are specifically formulated not to clog your pores.

  • Wear sunscreen. Curology’s sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen without pore-clogging ingredients that minimizes the appearance of a white cast so you can face the day with confidence. Remember to wear SPF 30 or higher! 

  • Wash your face twice a day. Cleansing your face can reduce the amount of buildup on your skin and in your pores.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to

  1. Lee, S. J. Facial Pores: Definition, Causes, and Treatment Options. Dermatologic Surgery. (March 2016)

  2. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Enlarged Facial Pores: An Update on Treatments. MDedge. (July 2016).

  3. Ditre, C. M., et al. Effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on photoaged skin: a pilot clinical, histologic, and ultrastructural study. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (1996).

  4. American Academy of Dermatology. What can treat large facial pores?(n.d.)

Elise Griffin is a certified physician assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in physician assistant studies from Nova Southeastern University in Jacksonville, FL.

*In a clinical trial of 150 Curology patients. Self-reported.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Elise Griffin, Physician Assistant Curology

Elise Griffin, PA-C

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