How To Minimize The Appearance Of Pores

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

Over the
course of my 25 years in the skin-care industry, working hands-on with clients,
one of the most common questions I get asked is, “How
can I shrink my pores?” Unfortunately, pores aren’t like doors: They don’t
open or close, and you cannot change their size.

Typically, large pores are an indication of
how much oil your skin has produced over time. If your skin has been rapidly pumping out oil (usually in the teenage years, which are formative as far as pore size goes), the walls of the pore lining will stretch, resulting in — you guessed it — bigger pores. Likewise, those who are very oily all over the face (primarily due to genetics)
will have larger pores everywhere. Those who only produce oil in the T-zone
will probably notice larger pores exclusively in that area. And, most people who produce very little oil will have tiny pores. 

While you can’t magically shrink them, it is possible to minimize their
appearance. Here are some of my top tricks for doing just that.  

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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

Exfoliate. 
The most immediate way to deal
with the appearance of pores is through exfoliation. Use a gentle
facial scrub, or opt for a gentle serum you can leave on overnight, and you're likely to see an instant visual improvement. Using a combination of both
physical exfoliants (facial scrubs with round grains) and chemical
exfoliants (like alcohol-free glycolic serums) on a regular basis will help
remove the surface dry cells that surround pore openings, making
them look smaller and less deep. Once you've exfoliated, it’s important to
use a moisturizer to hydrate the skin and stall the inevitable dead-cell buildup. 

Deep-clean clogged pores.
For a lot of people, simply cleaning
out pores and getting rid of blackheads is a big step toward minimizing pore appearance. An experienced professional can do this for you (my recommendation) or you can do it yourself. Whatever you choose, make sure to make it a part of your beauty routine — once a month is best. Without a doubt, nothing
will clean out pores more effectively than manual extractions — not even a facial-cleansing brush. When combined with extractions, steam can be beneficial. The heat it produces will raise the temperature of the
skin and soften the hardened oil in the pores for easier extraction and
deep cleansing. 

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

Keep pores clean.
After you've manually cleared out pores, my favorite ingredient for penetrating the pore lining and helping to
keep them clean is salicylic acid. It’s a keratolytic beta-hydroxy acid (BHA)
famous for its ability to smooth skin without causing irritation. It also
reduces acne-causing bacteria and oil to prevent blemishes while penetrating
the pores to help clear out impurities.  

Use a primer. 
There are primers, powders, and balms that you can use under makeup to create a smooth canvas for applying foundation and concealer. These can work double-duty and minimize the appearance of large pores. Benefit Cosmetics' Porefessional is one of my favorite balms.   

Focus on long-term results. 
The most effective
long-term approach is to use a product with retinol.
Long-term use will really help smooth and resurface skin texture and
make pores look smaller and less noticeable — permanently (as long as you’re
using it consistently). Retinol is truly the most scientifically proven
ingredient to re-texture the skin and minimize visible
pores, lines, and wrinkles.

Prescription retinoids will work the fastest to give
results, but this ingredient can be irritating to people with sensitive skin. Some may experience peeling until the skin gets used to it. A gentler, but still effective, alternative is to use a high-performance, stable non-prescription retinol serum
under moisturizer at night five times a week. If you use it consistently, you can
still benefit from its visible pore-reducing abilities.

While
there’s no overnight cure for making pores look smaller, you can minimize
their appearance with some consistent effort. 

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