- Large pores consist of noticeably enlarged pores compared to the rest of your skin. These can sometimes resemble small craters, and may be caused by acne, oily skin, and collagen loss.
- Treating large pores can start at home with regular exfoliation and other techniques to remove debris. In some cases, stronger dermatologic treatments are necessary to improve skin appearance.
- There’s no way to physically alter your pores, but corrective treatments may enhance your skin texture and make your pores look smaller.
Large pores are a common aesthetic concern. While you can’t shrink pores per se, you can adopt healthy skincare practices and incorporate certain treatments to your routine to help make pores look smaller. Large pores may be remedied by getting rid of clogging debris as well as boosting collagen for firmer skin.
Pores consist of openings connected to hair follicles beneath the skin. Underneath your pores are important lubricating features called sebaceous glands, which are responsible for keeping your skin hydrated with natural oils (sebum).
Ideally, pores will naturally slough off dead skin cells and excess oils on their own. Pores may temporarily enlarge when they get clogged.
Contrary to internet claims, there’s no way you can physically change the size or shape of your pores. Treatments—especially professional ones—can help decrease the appearance of large pores only. You also can’t “get rid of” pores or make them “close up.” Clean pores may have the appearance of being “open,” but you can’t physically open them up.
Facial pores seem to get the most attention, as these are the most noticeable. Your entire body has pores, so it’s possible to develop large pores on areas outside of your face, too.
How to identify large pores
Pores aren’t usually noticeable unless you’re trying to locate them with a magnified mirror. Clean pores may have small, “open” appearances.
Large pores, on the other hand, have been stretched beyond their natural shape. You can identify large pores by their appearance to the naked eye. These may be flat or raised, depending on how recently the edges of the pores were stretched out. Some may even have the appearance of small craters, especially in areas with larger sebaceous glands, such as the forehead, cheeks, and chin.
Pores enlarge as a result of stretching and irritation. These may occur as a result of:
- picking/popping acne lesions
- excess sebum from oily skin
- sun damage
- collagen loss from natural aging process
- using the wrong types of skincare products and makeup (either too drying or too oily)
Large pores on nose and cheeks
Pores may appear larger on the nose and cheeks because of the size of the sebaceous glands beneath the skin’s surface. Picking at acne in these areas can also result in large pores.
Extremely large pores
Extremely large pores are often seen in acne-prone skin. This may occur from previous cystic acne lesions, which grow beneath the skin’s surface. As cystic acne engorges, so do the affected pores. Even after treating acne, your pores may stretch significantly and stay that way. Popping inflammatory acne lesions makes the problem even worse.
How to treat large pores
Treatment for large pores consists of getting rid of debris trapped in your pores as well as tightening the skin. When done consistently, such treatments can help reduce the appearance of larger pores over time. At-home options include exfoliation, chemical peels, masks and anti-aging serums.
Exfoliation helps large pores by removing clogging debris, such as trapped oils and dead skin cells. When your pores are clogged, they automatically look larger. The longer debris stays in your pores, the more at risk you are for blackheads, whiteheads, and inflammatory acne lesions.
An exfoliating mask, microdermabrasion kit or gentle scrub can make a difference in your pore size, and you only have to use these twice per week. You can also try micro-exfoliating cleansers that are designed for daily use to help keep your pores clean.
Exfoliating may not be appropriate if you have fresh acne breakouts—this may further irritate the affected pores.
Best for oily and acne-prone skin, clay masks work by removing sebum, dead skin, and dirt from your pores. These can also be used up to twice a week with exfoliating products—just make sure you use them on alternating days.
Unlike exfoliation methods, you can use clay masks if you are going through an acne breakout. Clay masks may even help shrink pimples and reduce inflammation.
Clay masks aren’t the best method for dry skin types because they can remove too much oil from your skin.
Chemical peels were once reserved for the dermatologist’s office. Now you can find less potent peels for home use once or twice per week. These peels contain alpha-hydroxy or beta-hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) that work by removing the top layer of your skin. Over time, your skin will gradually appear smoother—this includes less noticeable pores.
Peels are appropriate for all skin types, but are especially beneficial for aging skin. You shouldn’t use this treatment method if you currently have skin irritation or wounds.
Anti-aging serums have the goal of making your skin look more youthful. Depending on the ingredients, some serums reduce the appearance of brown spots, while others may decrease the look of fine lines and wrinkles. The skin-tightening effects of serums can boost collagen, making pores look smaller, too.
It’s important to find the right anti-aging serum to match your skin type. Avoid extra-moisturizing versions if you already have oily skin.
Treatments to avoid
While dead skin cells and excess oil can clog up your pores and make them look larger, you don’t want to apply anything too harsh to your face. This will only dry out the skin and cause irritation, and can even make your sebaceous glands produce more oil. Large pores are more noticeable if your skin is dry and irritated, too.
Some treatments to avoid include:
- baking soda
- lemon juice
- rubbing alcohol
Depending on the severity of enlarged pores, you might consider more professional treatments. The following options may also be helpful if home treatments aren’t providing the results you desire. Talk to your doctor about the potential risks and side effects of each before getting started.
A dose of oral or topical antibiotics may be appropriate if you have severe acne. These work by controlling the amount of p. acnes bacteria that may contribute to inflammatory acne lesions. Treating acne is important in terms of pore size because large pimples can stretch out pores and leave behind scars.
Retinoids are a powerful form of vitamin A that can help boost collagen and even out your skin tone. While also available over the counter, prescription retinoids (in the form of retinol) are ideal for more stubborn skin concerns.
If home chemical peels aren’t giving you results, you may consider asking your dermatologist for a professional-grade version. These work by removing the top layers of skin so that your skin appears tighter and smoother—including enlarged pores.
Laser resurfacing targets both the epidermis and dermis to destroy the upper layers of skin, thereby producing more collagen. In turn, collagen fibers will generate new skin cells that are firmer and more toned. Laser resurfacing can also help treat severe acne by controlling over-active sebaceous glands and removing scars.
Microneedling (collagen induction therapy) consists of a dermal-rolling procedure which creates pricks in the skin with small needles. As these small wounds heal, your skin will generate new collagen to help tighten and tone. This procedure is also sometimes called skin needling.
Preventing large pores
No treatment will completely get rid of large pores, so it’s important to try and prevent your pores from stretching out in the first place. The best way to do this is to practice healthy skincare habits:
- Choose oil-free and non-comedogenic products only. These ensure that you won’t be placing any more oil or pore-clogging ingredients on your skin.
- Cleanse your face twice a day, and bathe once per day or after sweating. Pat your skin dry—rubbing it with a towel will irritate your skin and make pores look larger.
- Use a benzoyl peroxide-containing spot treatment one to three times per day for acne lesions.
- Follow your skincare routine with a moisturizer designed for your skin type. Oily, acne-prone skin can benefit from a water-based moisturizer.
- Wear sunscreen every single day to protect your skin from age spots and cancers. An oil-free product with an SPF of 30 or more is ideal.
- Drink lots of water to remove toxins and improve your complexion.
- Don’t go to bed wearing makeup—this will clog your pores.
- Never pick at your skin.
Large pores occur from the surrounding skin stretching out due to damage, collagen loss, or excess oil. You can’t physically decrease pore size, so it’s important to take care of your skin to prevent pore stretching. Home treatments and professional dermatologic techniques can help minimize the appearance of large pores. No matter which technique you choose, it’s important to keep in mind that it takes several treatments to see results.