6 Tips to Shrink Your Pores

By: Ann Burdett

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Ah, pores. How we hate thee. I remember when I was in cosmetology school learning about skin, our instructor brought in orange for each station. Our job was to compare each other’s pores with the peel of the orange on our desk. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 looking like a spotted orange peel, where did we feel everyone’s pores ranked. We then shared rankings to see how our findings compared with the rest of the class’s findings. Totally humiliating for those of us in class who were a 4 or 5. (At that time, I was one of those who feel in the 4’s. How I longed to be a 1 or 2!)

If you have large pores, I know you can relate. I’m happy to share that over the years moving from oily to combo to normal skin and with better skincare habits than I had when I was 20, my pores look so much smaller than they did that day. Yours can, too.

Most people who have large pores are those in the oily to combination skin type, so we’re going to make the assumption that you fall in that type as well. The tips below, especially the product selections, are for combo-oily skin.

First and Foremost: Can I Really Shrink My Pores

Everyone has pores. Pores are actually your hair follicles. Everyone has hair follicles over their entire body, except for the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, thus everyone has pores. Genetics play into the size of your pores, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to make

sure you’re not doing something to make them appear larger than they have to.

Pick the Right Cleanser 

A cleanser that will help de-clog your pores is what you need to start the process. Pick one with salicylic acid, which will help reduce the dead skin cells which can get stuck in your pores. It will also help reduce the oil on your skin, which can make your pores look bigger. Neutrogena makes a great line of acne washes that fit the bill.


This step is huge. Exfoliating on a regular basis will definitely give the appearance of shrinking pores. If you are routinely getting the dead skin cells, which get clogged in your pores, off of your skin, your pores will avoid getting stretched out daily. Use a clean washcloth with your daily cleanser to help gently exfoliate your skin. If you want to splurge, get a product like a Clarisonic or Spa Sonic to help with the exfoliating. Over time you absolutely will notice smaller-looking pores.

Consider Retinols 

Retinols are derived from Vitamin A and are easily found in over-the-counter products. What’s great about Retinols is their ability to penetrate the skin’s layers. They can literally start transforming your skin before it even hits the surface. Retinols are typically found in anti-aging product lines and can cause some peeling and sensitive skin, so start with only using it every other or every third day until you see how your skin reacts. A good drugstore product to try is ROC: Multi-Correction Night Treatment.

Don’t Pick 

When your pores are clogged, there is nothing harder to fight off than the desire to pick and poke and prod. Just don’t! When you are pulling and squeezing your skin, you can cause trauma to your pores which can leave them permanently enlarged. Plus, you’re adding dirt and oil from your hands to the mix which can cause breakouts and infection. Let the products work for you. 

Minimize the Appearance of Your Pores with a Primer 

A primer is a great pore camouflager. (They can also help with oily eyelids) Do you ever notice your foundation getting clogged in your pores? Many times your pores look larger after you apply your makeup, which is the exact opposite of what you want it to do! A primer sits at the surface of your skin and creates a sort of barrier between your makeup and skin. It won’t get stuck in the pores and it will overall improve the appearance of your skin.

Use Clay Masks Regularly 

Masks with Kaolin clay in them are great for those with large, clogged pores. You only need to use them once or twice a week for noticeable benefits. Bioelements Restorative Clay Mask is one of our favorites. 

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