How to Shrink Pores Fast, According to Dermatologists

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Video How to get smaller pores

We know you want to learn how to minimize pores, but we need to get this out of the way first: you cannot shrink pores permanently. Not with a facial pore cleanser. Not with the miracle pore minimizer your friend told you about. Not with a fancy procedure from your dermatologist.

“Your pore size is genetic, based on how your glands are made, so you can’t change its structure,” says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.

Plus, you kind of need them. “Pores are small openings that allow sweat to travel to the surface of the skin from the dermis,” says Meghan Feely, MD, a dermatologist practicing in New York and New Jersey. “They protect you from overheating.”

Still, there are certain things—like sun damage and acne—that can make pores bigger, and even though you can’t shrink pores for real, you can make them appear smaller with skin care practices that keep them as healthy (and tiny) as possible. Here, dermatologists share how to shrink pores for smooth, even skin.

Prevent pore expansion

“The sun compromises your skin’s collagen, which keeps skin firm and tight,” Dr. Gohara says. With less collagen to keep skin taut it starts to sag, tugging on your pores and forcing them to expand. (Kind of like how holes in your stockings become bigger when you pull on the material around them.) Not to mention, sweat from the sun forces your glands to produce more oil, which can clog pores and make them look larger in the short term. It’s a lose-lose.

The best pore minimizer

Use a day-cream with at least SPF 30 every day. We like Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb the Antioxidant Super Moisturizer SPF 30. It’s free of pore-clogging oils, so it feels nothing like the greasy stuff you apply at the beach.

Keep pores healthy

Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is the golden child of the skincare world: it slows signs of aging, prevents breakouts, and keeps your pores open and healthy. “Retinoids clear clogged oil and dead skin cells to make pores appear smaller,” Dr. Feely says. That explains why women noted improvements in their pore size when they applied a retinol every night for three months, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

The best pore minimizer

Start with SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3, which contains 0.3 percent pure retinol. Then, work your way up to SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 and Retinol 1.0 as your skin gets used to the ingredient, which can be irritating at first.

Find a facial pore cleanser

Apply a facial pore cleanser with salicylic acid nightly. “It’s a beta hydroxy acid that has increased solubility in oil and can travel deep within pores,” Dr. Feely says. You can also talk to your dermatologist about a stronger in-office chemical peel to further clear out pores.

The best pore minimizer

Try Alba Botanica Acnedote, Deep Pore Wash. It’s 2 percent salicylic acid and free of fragrances and phthalates.

Create an optical illusion

“Anything that plumps up the skin can make pores appear smaller,” Dr. Gohara says. And microdermabrasion—an in-office procedure that exfoliates the top layer of skin—does just that. “The skin plumps up in response to trauma, which makes it look like you have smaller pores.” (Don’t worry, you’ll just look a little pink for a couple of days.) Bonus: Since you’re sloughing away dead skin cells, all the collagen-boosting ingredients in your serums and night cream have an easier time penetrating the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

The best pore minimizer

Dr. Gohara suggests seeing your derm for a series of microdermabrasion treatments, spread out over a few weeks. But since they’ll set you back $250 to $700 a pop, you may want to consider an at-home treatment, like GloPRO Microneedling Regeneration Tool. “At-home microneedling devices can have similar results,” Dr. Gohara says.

Avoid heavy foundation

Dr. Feely says to skip makeup containing emulsifiers (a substance used in creams and lotions to mix water with oils) like lanolin, cetyl acetate, myristyl myristate, isopropyl linoleate, and lauric acid, all of which clog pores and make them look bigger. Another downside? “It’s difficult to conceal large pores, so heavy makeup can settle around them and make pores look more pronounced,” Dr. Gohara says.

The best pore minimizer

Dr. Gohara likes Avène Mineral High Protection Compact SPF 50. “You’re better off applying lighter layers of powder-based makeup instead of heavier products,” she says.

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