There are two types of pores. One releases the body's natural oil, called sebum; the other releases sweat. Sometimes the oil-releasing pores may appear enlarged.
It is not possible to get rid of large pores, but there are ways to reduce their appearance. This article explores how to make large pores less visible. It also discusses how to promote skin health and what further treatments are available.
- Pores are tiny holes in a person's skin.
- If a person has large pores, they may not be able to change this.
- It may be possible to reduce the appearance by keeping them unclogged.
Why do pores become enlarged?
It may be possible to reduce the appearance of large pores and make them less visible.
Every person's skin is covered in tiny hairs, apart from on the palms of their hands and feet. Each hair follicle has a pore at the top of it.
The hair follicle has a gland inside it that produces oil. This is called the sebaceous gland. When the sebaceous gland releases oil, the oil rises to the top of the skin and collects in the pore.
According to this 2016 study, the primary causes of enlarged pores are:
- Excessive sebum: This is when a person's sebaceous gland produces a lot of oil, and they have oily skin.
- Decreased elasticity around the pore: This is when the skin becomes less supple, and pores appear enlarged.
- Increased hair follicle volume: This is when the pore at the end of the hair follicle becomes clogged.
When oil collects in the pore and combines with dirt or makeup, the pore can become blocked. This stretches the pore, making it look bigger than it is. If the pore remains clogged, a pimple may develop.
How active a person's sebaceous glands are, depends on their genes. It also depends on the size of their pores.
Having large pores is not a health concern. As this 2015 study explains, pore size is purely an aesthetic consideration.
It may not be possible to get rid of large pores, but most people can reduce their appearance. The best way to do this is to ensure their skin stays supple and their pores remain unclogged.
Eight ways to minimize large pores
Here are eight effective ways to reduce the appearance of pores:
1. Choosing water-based products
If a person has oily skin, they should ensure they use products that are water-based. Using water-based products avoids extra oil getting into the pores.
A person with oily skin and large pores should avoid oil-based products. These may lead to excess oil on the skin, making pores appear larger.
2. Washing the face both morning and evening
Washing the face is basic skin care. But with so many products available, a person may forget just to use warm water and a cleanser.
Having a good face washing habit is essential. Washing the face every morning and evening helps to wash away oil and dirt from the pores, which helps to reduce their appearance.
3. Choosing gel-based cleansers
If a person has oily skin and wants to reduce the appearance of their pores, they should choose a gel-based cleanser.
A moisturizing cleanser may leave residue in the pores and increase oiliness. A gel-based cleanser helps to clear oil from the pores, reducing their appearance.
Exfoliating the skin may be recommended to help remove blockages from the pores.
A person with oily skin should exfoliate once or twice a week. Exfoliating helps to remove things from the pores that can block them. This includes:
- dead skin cells
- excess oil
Look for exfoliating products containing salicylic acid, which is a natural acid that helps to release debris from the pores.
It is important not to exfoliate more than twice a week, however. Exfoliating too frequently with products that contain salicylic acid or alcohol can dry out the skin.
Although exfoliation keeps the pores unclogged, they can look bigger if the skin becomes too dry.
5. Moisturizing daily
The idea of moisturizing oily skin may be counterintuitive. However, it can help to reduce pore enlargement.
Although moisturizing cleansers may clog the pores, in contrast, moisturizing lotions used after washing and patting the skin dry are beneficial.
This is because moisturizers hydrate and soften the skin. This allows the sebum to penetrate deeper into the skin, rather than sit in the pores on the surface.
In this way, moisturizing prevents pores becoming clogged with oil, reducing their appearance.
6. Applying a clay mask
Using a clay mask once or twice a week can help to remove oil from the pores. This can prevent them from becoming enlarged, and reduce their appearance.
However, it is a good idea to do this on a different day to exfoliating. Over-treating the skin may cause irritation. When the skin gets irritated, pores may appear enlarged and blemishes may occur.
7. Always removing makeup at night
It is essential to always remove makeup before going to sleep.
Sleeping with makeup on overnight can lead to a person's pores becoming blocked. This is because makeup, oil, and bacteria build up in the pores.
Using cleansing wipes is a quick way to remove makeup if a person is short on time.
8. Wearing sunscreen
It is crucial to care for skin in the sun. If a person's skin becomes sun damaged, this can be very drying. When the skin is dry, pores may appear larger.
Keeping the skin protected from the sun keeps it supple. The best ways to do this are:
- wearing a wide-brimmed hat
- wearing sunscreen every day
- staying in the shade when the sun is strongest
How to promote healthy skin
Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water may help to improve the overall complexion.
The home treatments explored above are good ways to reduce the appearance of pores. But the following can promote the health of a person's skin:
- Eating well: Getting the right balance of nutrients, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates helps improve overall health. When a person has a healthful diet, this is reflected in their skin.
- Drinking plenty of water: Water hydrates a person's skin from within. This helps to improve their overall complexion.
- Exercising regularly: Getting regular exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the skin. It also gets a person sweating, which is good for skin health. A 2001 study found that sweat contains a natural antibiotic substance that helps protect the skin from bacteria.
Always rinse the skin after exercise. Although sweating is beneficial for the skin, leaving it on the surface may cause further pore clogging.
When to see a doctor
If a person has ongoing problems with their skin, such as acne, they should speak to their doctor.
A doctor can refer them to a dermatologist or other skin specialist, who can recommend an appropriate treatment.
Other treatment options
There are several treatments available for acne and enlarged pores. These include:
- Microneedling: This is a non-invasive skin treatment using a dermaroller (a hand-held roller with tiny needles on it) or a microneedle pen (a device with a motor that causes piercing of the skin with tiny needles). Piercing the surface of the skin causes micro-injuries, which prompt the skin's healing response. This can reduce the appearance of large pores.
- Antibiotics: A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help treat acne.
- Retinoids: These are a stronger prescription medication that a doctor may offer a person with ongoing problems with acne.
If a person is interested in these treatments, they should speak to their doctor.