Welcome to FaceForward
Get the scoop on all things beauty, wellness, and skincare.
Dealing with large pores can be frustrating, especially if you feel like you’ve tried everything to improve their appearance.
To manage large or enlarged pores, it’s important to first understand what causes them and the factors that can influence their size.
In this article, we take a closer look at the science behind enlarged pores and how you may be able to minimize their appearance once and for all.
Pores are the small openings found at the top of hair follicles. Although they cover the entire body, pores have different functions.
Some pores are responsible for making the body sweat to help regulate temperature.
Other pores produce sebum (oil) to moisturize and protect the skin. These pores also “waterproof” the skin to help it retain moisture and reduce excess water loss.
The oil-producing pores are also the ones that appear on the face. Since the forehead, nose, and cheeks produce the most oil, the pores around these areas are often the most noticeable.
Because genetics usually determine a person’s pore size, their appearance is largely out of your control. If your parents or grandparents have large pores, there’s a good chance that you will too.
Genetics will also determine if your pores will grow in size and become more visible as you get older.
While genetics play a big role, there are a variety of other factors that can make your pores more visible.
As we get older, the skin produces less collagen—this is a protein responsible for keeping our complexion firm and supple.
When we have less collagen available to maintain our skin’s structure, it begins to sag.
The same is true for our pores. When the skin starts to sag, the pores are more prone to stretching.
This makes the pores more noticeable on the surface of the skin.
Similar to the aging process, sun damage can also cause the skin to sag—especially if you don’t use proper sunscreen to protect your complexion.
The sun’s UV radiation contributes to collagen breakdown too, as well as elastin fibers. When these fibers are damaged, the skin around the pores becomes less firm. This means the pores will start to stretch and, over time, look bigger.
Excess sebum production and oily skin are also primary causes of enlarged pores.
Each pore contains a sebaceous gland that produces and secretes oil. This substance is used to moisturize the skin and keep it protected.
When the sebaceous glands produce more oil than is necessary, this can result in pores becoming clogged.
When this happens, the oil, dirt, and other impurities trapped in the pore can cause it to stretch and enlarge while also contributing to breakouts.
Exposure to air can also oxidize oil and dirt trapped in the pores and cause these impurities to form blackheads.
Naturally, this magnifies the appearance of the pores compared to when they’re clear.
Without sufficient hydration, the skin also struggles to remove impurities from the pores. This can cause pores to flatten and appear elongated, which makes them more visible to the eye.
This is because the skin loses elasticity and starts to sag when it’s not moisturized. The elastin fibers around your pores will also weaken, causing them to droop and appear larger.
Because the size of our pores is largely out of our control, it’s not always possible to shrink them completely.
However, there are a number of things we can do to improve their appearance and help prevent the look of large pores later in life.
Wearing sunscreen every day ensures that your skin is protected from harmful UV radiation and free radicals.
UV damage and free radicals break down the skin’s collagen and elastin fibers, which are essential to maintaining a firm and youthful appearance.
By using a broad spectrum SPF regularly, you’ll better protect the collagen and elastin fibers around your pores and prevent them from sagging and becoming more visible.
Washing your face gently twice a day removes dirt, oil, and other impurities that can lead to clogged pores.
By regularly cleansing your face, you’ll be able to prevent impurities from building up in your pores that can cause them to stretch and appear larger. When the pores are free from bacteria and oil, they are less likely to expand and become more noticeable.
Dermatologists recommend using cleansers with active ingredients that can dissolve and remove excess oil from your pores. We’ll provide a few examples of these in the next section.
While washing your face twice a day is a good step toward shrinking or managing your pores, it’s all about using the right ingredients for the best results.
When adding new products to your skincare routine, keep an eye out for the following ingredients.
Salicylic acid is an oil-based exfoliant that forms part of the beta-hydroxy acids (BHA). These exfoliating acids work deep within the skin to regulate excess oil production.
By dissolving oil and impurities, salicylic acid can help keep pores clear so that they don’t look as visible as when they’re clogged.
Retinoids are powerful vitamin A derivatives with a number of skin-clearing properties.
As active ingredients, retinoids mainly work to stimulate and increase the skin’s cell turnover process.
When this happens, your skin generates new cells while removing dead skin cells, oil, and dirt from the surface. The cell turnover process is essential for achieving a more youthful-looking complexion because the new skin cells replace damaged ones and even smooth wrinkles or imperfections.
Not only does this help keep the skin clear, but it also tightens the skin around the pores to keep them firm. This helps improve the appearance of sagging and elongated pores.
Azelaic acid is an anti-inflammatory ingredient often used to treat acne and keep the pores clear.
It’s intended to reduce the amount of oil on the skin and prevent a buildup of impurities from clogging pores.
Azelaic acid has also been shown to stimulate the skin’s cell turnover process alongside retinoids. This helps to keep pores clean and minimize their appearance. It also prevents impurities from oxidizing and turning black—an occurrence that creates blackheads that lead to even more visible pores.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is essential for maintaining the overall health of our skin and body.
As a skincare ingredient, vitamin C is intended to help the skin to repair sun damage caused by free radicals. This helps strengthen the elastin and collagen fibers responsible for keeping the skin and pores firm.
Remember, your pores can stretch and enlarge when the skin starts to sag, making them appear more visible.
Vitamin C can also stimulate collagen production to help reduce sun damage and promote supple skin.
When the skin produces enough collagen, it can more effectively repair damaged cells and fibers that contribute to sagging skin.
One of the best ways to improve the appearance of enlarged pores is to remove your makeup before you go to bed each night.
Removing makeup ensures that the product—along with dirt, oil, and sweat that builds up during the day—is cleared from your pores. This prevents a buildup from forming and becoming trapped at the surface of the skin. It also stops impurities from oxidizing and magnifying the appearance of pores.
Not only does following a healthy lifestyle benefit your body, but it also has a positive effect on your overall skin health.
For example, drinking enough water daily will help hydrate your skin to keep it moisturized and protected.
It also helps the skin flush dirt and impurities that can clog the pores.
Similarly, eating a balanced diet ensures that your skin has all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function properly. It also strengthens the skin and helps it to repair damaged cells that can contribute to enlarged pores.
Using high-quality skincare products with a range of active ingredients is one of the most effective ways to improve the appearance of large pores.
At Nava MD, we’ve formulated a range of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription treatments with a variety of pore-shrinking ingredients such as:
Not only can these formulas help you manage large pores, but they can also keep skin clear and functioning optimally.
Our dermatologists specialize in creating unique, personalized formulas suited to your skin’s needs and sensitivities.
It’s like a dermatology visit, done online, and it starts with a free online skin consultation.
The best part? No in-office visits are required to access these powerful prescription ingredients. If your treatment is approved, your products will be delivered straight to your doorstep.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency