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The Truth: Can You Really Shrink Them Pores?

The radiant, smooth, poreless glass skin trend has prompted many of us to scrutinize our pores. Your skin needs pores to house the natural oils — or sebum — that are essential to keeping it moisturized. So while you can never get rid of pores completely, the right skincare can minimize the appearance of enlarged pores.

But what causes large pores? And how can you make pores look smaller? This complete guide to your pores can help.

What are Pores?

Pores are small openings in the skin that contain hair follicles as well as oil and sweat glands. Each type of gland is housed in a different type of pore. While sweat pores are often invisible to the naked eye, sebaceous (oil) pores are the ones we tend to analyze in the mirror. They’re not only essential for excreting sebum to keep your skin moisturized, they also help gasses and liquids move through the surface of your skin.You have sebaceous pores all over the entire surface of your skin — with the exception of your palms and the soles of your feet — but they’re more concentrated on your face, back, chest, and groin.

How Pores Work

The hair follicle inside a sebaceous pore allows the sebum to reach the surface and lubricate the skin, keeping it moisturized and healthy. Without that sebum, your skin would crack and shrivel as the water from inside its top layer evaporates into the atmosphere. So while it’s easy to think of sebum as the enemy, you don’t want to completely stop sebum production, but rather keep pores functioning in a normal, balanced, healthy way.

What Determines Pore Size?

Your pore size is determined by your genetics, gender, ethnicity, and skin type. Men, for example, have higher sebum production and therefore larger pores due to their higher levels of testosterone and dyhydrotesosterone (DHT). And just like skin tone, ethnicity also plays a role with people of Asian descent typically having smaller pore size compared with other racial groups. 

People with oily skin across all ethnicities and genders tend to have larger pores. Pores appear biggest where oil glands are most active, such as on your forehead, nose, and chin.

What Causes Enlarged Pores?

Enlarged pores – or pores that have become stretched out or saggy — can be caused by a number of factors. These include:
  • The amount of collagen and elastin in your skin. These compounds support every pore, but we produce less of them as we get older. They’re also impacted by sun exposure. The more sun exposure we get, the more the collagen and elastin will degrade making pores stretch and sag.
  • Dead skin cells. The skin renews itself about every four to six weeks.The dead skin cells sloughing off the top layer of skin can accumulate in pores due to age or dryness, causing enlarged pores.
  • Excess oil. While people with oily skin tend to have larger pores in general, excess sebum can mix with dead skin cells and clog pores stretching them out.

Can You Shrink Pores?

While you can’t actually shrink your pores, you can make them look smaller and tighter.Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as an “open” or “closed” pore. Pores are not attached to muscles, so they don’t open or close. In fact, you wouldn’t want your pores to actually close, as this would trap sebum inside the pore, likely causing a blemish.Even in-office treatments such as lasers, peels and microneedling don’t actually shrink pores. They work by stimulating collagen and elastin to support enlarged pores, making them appear smaller. Similarly,  the right skincare products can make pores look smaller by balancing oil production, improving cell turnover, and boosting collagen and elastin.Amino Aloe Gentle Cleanser and Retinol Night Serum on a counter next to a sink

How to Make Pores Look Smaller

    1. Wash Your Face Twice a Day

Keeping skin clean is crucial to regulating oil production and keeping pores clear so they don’t become enlarged. Avoid harsh cleansers that strip the skin’s natural oils, as this can cause the skin to become dehydrated, prompting it to further increase oil production.Formulated for all skin types, our Amino Aloe Gentle Cleanser  lathers to a satisfying foam and uses our innovative amino acid complex to deep clean pores while aloe calms and soothes and moringa extract removes remnants of pore-clogging environmental debris. Your skin is left clean, hydrated, and refreshed.
    1. Exfoliate Regularly

Regular exfoliation can help improve the look of enlarged pores by loosening and removing dead skin cells, preventing them from accumulating inside pores. Steer clear of scrubs, which can disrupt your skin’s protective moisture barrier and irritate skin. Instead, opt for gentle exfoliating alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids to dissolve dead skin cells and reveal fresh, healthy skin.

Add exfoliation into your everyday routine with our BHA Pore-Minimizing Toner. It exfoliates using gentle white willowbark extract, a natural source of exfoliating beta hydroxy acids that has the power of salcylic acid without the irritation. 

Then, use our 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Serum in your nightly routine if clogged pores are contributing to rough, bumpy skin. This rapid retexturizing serum uses 10% lactic acid to dissolve dead skin and smooth uneven texture. In consumer studies, 100% of participants showed improvement in the appearance of pores in just one use.

    1. Use Retinol

Retioids like retinol speed up the skin’s cell renewal process, helping to slough off dead skin that might be clogging your pores. They also help to decrease the breakdown of collagen and thicken the deepest layers of the skin, which can help support pores and make them appear smaller.

While some people experience sensitivity with retinoid use, our groundbreaking Retinol Night Serum reduces irritation by time-releasing our powerful retinoid actives into your skin over the course of 8 hours. The result: all the skin-smoothing, dark-spot-improving benefits of retinoids with a boost of squalane-powered hydration, not irritation.

Probiotic Gel Moisturizer Jar Open with Product swipe
    1. Balance Oil Production

Oily skin is often the body’s response to dehydrated skin as it produces more moisturizing oils to lock water molecules into the skin. A lightweight, barrier-supporting moisturizer can work wonders for oily skin, especially when it contains probiotics to help bring the skin’s microbiome into balance.

Our advanced reformulated Probiotic Gel Moisturizer includes encapsulated probiotics to deliver live, beneficial organisms directly to your skin, balancing and strengthening its microbiome for smoother, clearer, calmer, healthier skin. In consumer studies, 97 percent of participants agreed their skin looked clearer after 4 weeks of use.

Christine Tusher
Christine Tusher Writer and expert
As a lifestyle writer and journalist, I love sharing my passion for ocean conservation and obsession with clean beauty. I’ve tried almost every trend and ingredient, and Biossance’s science-backed formulas are the only ones that consistently calm my reactive skin and make it smoother, clearer, and healthier. I’m so excited to be on this journey of skincare innovation with Biossance, and to share it with you!

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