You know when you’re in a department store and you pass by one of those hyper close-up makeup mirrors? Suddenly you’re like a moth to a light—afraid to look but drawn mysteriously to it…
Those mirrors don’t lie—if you’ve got enlarged pores, you’re going to see each and every one.
It’s one of the most common skin complaints. People often ask me, “Is pore size genetic, or can they be minimized using the right products?
Some sources will tell you that it’s solely a genetic trait, and that you can’t actually reduce your pore size, while products companies will boldly tell you that their cream or wash can make them disappear.
I wanted to explain the truth about using skincare to reduce pore size. Does it actually work or is pore size genetic?
Is pore size genetic?
It’s generally agreed upon that yes, pore size is genetic.
But this isn’t any different from the way acne is genetic or how the way you age is genetic. Pore size and prominence is partially determined by your genes but significantly affected by your daily habits and lifestyles choices.
Larger pores are associated with oily skin and acne, but some people with acne have the tiniest of pores, while some with larger pores do not suffer from acne.
It’s one of those annoyingly complicated things.
Aging plays a role in pore size
Though you might go through most of your teen and early adult years with not a pore in sight, some people’s pores get larger as they age.
As we age, our collagen and elastin tissues—those that comprise the structure of our skin—breakdown. This is greatly accelerated by sun exposure, so one of the most common pieces of advice you’ll see is to wear sun protection if you want to prevent your pores from becoming enlarged.
Other ways we damage our skin and cause pores to look larger is by popping pimples. We all know it’s the most tempting thing, but that it’s best to let a professional aesthetician do the job.
Natural ways to decrease pore size
When you see advice for reducing pore size, the most common thread is that you want to thoroughly clean your pores and remove dead skin cells. In many ways, this is sound advice—a pore full of build up is going to look larger. Plus, debris within clogged pores can oxidize and turn into blackheads, which draw even more attention to pores. Using ingredients that help draw out these impurities is thus key for shrinking pores.
Here are my top 3 ingredients for minimizing pore size:
Enzymes from fruits such as pineapple and papaya are popular remedies for enlarged pores. These enzymes work as a gentle chemical exfoliant, breaking down oil, dirt, and general buildup that clogs your pores—but are far less aggressive than acids which can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause more harm than good.
You can buy a natural pore refining product that contains one of these ingredients, or simply cut up some pineapple, mix it with yogurt (a natural—but gentle—form of lactic acid), and apply as a DIY mask!
Honey is also an excellent addition to any pore-diminishing routine. It naturally contains enzymes and a mild version of glycolic acid (a normally very deeply penetrating and skin-irritant alpha hydroxy acid). It’s also rich in prebiotics, which nourish the skin’s microbiome, and antioxidants, which . It also helps restore skin hydration with its humectant effects (dehydrated pores are more likely to “hold” onto dirt and debris, while hydrated pores are softer and release debris more willingly).
Click HERE to try this simple—and pleasurable—exfoliating honey ritual.
One of the oldest methods for cleansing the skin, clay naturally draws out toxins from pores. In fact, it actually attracts positively charged ions, which happens to be the charge that many toxicants carry.
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, clay should already be in your regimen. There are several kinds of clay to choose from: rhassoul, dead sea, kaolin, bentonite…
Each clay offers a slightly different mineral composition, but in general have the same effect of taking the excess oil off of your skin. Using it regularly will help keep your pores clean and minimized, while also helping to prevent acne and excessive oiliness.
To make your own clay mask, simply purchase clay from a reputable source such as Redmond, mix with water, rose water, or apple cider vinegar, and apply to oily, acne prone, or pore enlarged areas of your face for 15-20 minutes.
Tannins in witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) give it its astringent properties, which cause it to gently tighten tissues it’s applied to.
Commonly used in formulations meant to reduce skin oiliness, witch hazel is a completely natural ingredient, derived from a North American shrub.
Its herbal resume is long, used traditionally to treat everything from colds to diarrhea. Though I can’t speak to those uses, I can tell you that its effectiveness as a pore tightener is real.
The best place to look for witch hazel is in a natural toner, as a hydrosol, or as an extract. Remember to purchase witch hazel and other natural and botanical ingredients from a reputable herb supplier—not at the drug store. Drug store witch hazel options often contain higher amounts of alcohol than are necessary for natural preservation, and additional ingredients which may cause skin dryness and irritation.
Are large pores an issue for you?
What do you do to minimize their appearance? Share in the comments below!
*Image 4 courtesy of ASCP; image 5 by SI Griffiths.