We all want satiny smooth skin, and big pores often stand in the way of having that. Well, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to shrinking large pores.
First the good news:
Yes, you can make your large pores appear smaller!
Pore appearance changes based on how plump the skin is between the pores.
Think of your pores like buttons in a tufted pillow. The plusher and puffier the pillow the deeper the button looks. The same is true with your skin. If you de-plump the top layers of your skin (both the living layer, called the epidermis, and its dead skin cell layer, called the stratum corneum), it’s like making the “pillow” flatter … and your pores will appear finer and smaller.
You can temporarily de-plump your skin, and refine your pore size with:
- Clay masks
- The Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing System
- Skin toners and astringents
The effects are temporary, but effective! This is how they work:
Dermatologist’s Tricks to Shrink Large Pores
Clay draws out water and oil from your pores. This temporarily gives your skin a nice, tightened sensation and refined texture. The result is that your pores will appear smaller. When the clay mask pulls oil and water out of your pores it may pull out other material bound to them which is why some people claim they are detoxifying.
You can apply your own clay mask treatment at home by buying one of the many available clay mask products available in traditional skin care brands and natural skin care brands. Look for a clay mask product that matches your skin’s tolerance and fits your budget.
Clay masks are usually a combination of different clays such as bentonite, kaolin, French green, Fuller’s earth etc. There are often other ingredients added like sulfur to fight acne, botanical essences for aroma or “medicinal” purposes and other ingredients for consistency.
When you add a clay mask to a professional facial they’re great for refining skin tone and texture and deep pore cleansing. Our aestheticians often do this. I personally love the results of a clay mask on my sensitive skin. It is important to know, however, that clay masks can over-dry and irritate your skin if you use them too frequently. Find that “sweet spot” where you get refined texture without over-drying.
The Clarisonic Brush Sonic Skin Cleansing
The Clarisonic Smart Profile or Mia 2 use sonic energy and the vibrations of a brush to pulse your cleanser down into your pores. Oil and clogged pore debris can then be lifted out of the pores. Empty pores look cleaner and smaller because the black appearance of clogged pores make the pores look bigger. I sell a lot of Clarisonic systems in my dermatology office and everyone loves them. I use my Clarisonic Brush every night to cleanse my facial skin and it’s honestly one of the best appliances I’ve every purchased!
Skin Toners and Astringents
These products often contain alcohol or acetone (yes it’s true) to remove oil and fluid from the pores and top skin layers to refine skin tone and texture.
Acne products with the combination of ingredients that include salicylic acid and glycolic acid are excellent choices for clogged pores. The salicylic acid penetrates well into oil and both are keratolytics meaning they loosen pore clogging plugs of cells to help clean out debris. My Acne Treatment Pads contain this excellent pore cleaning combination.
Astringents and toners can work without alcohol or other drying agents to tighten the pore. One of my favorite and time honored options is witch hazel. Many witch hazel products contain a fair amount of alcohol. Some don’t. Again, no matter which you chose, the results are temporary, but the pores will appear smaller.
Know that alcohol or acetone containing toners or astringents are really only suitable for tolerant, oily skin; they’re just too irritating for sensitive or dry skin. If you can’t tolerate drying products, you may be able to use witch hazel, which is milder but accomplishes some of the same goals. I’ve created just the perfect alcohol free skin toner made from organic and natural ingredients including witch hazel. It’s my Naturally Hydrating Pore Minimizing Toner.
My Naturally Hydrating Toner is my top choice for shrinking the appearance of large pores. I use it every day and my aging, sensitive and dry complexion loves it!
Exfoliation means the removal of dead skin cells from the upper skin layer to brighten skin texture and de-plump the skin. It’s one of my favorite steps in any skin-care regimen because of its instant gratification. Removing the dull layer of dead skin cells on top of your living skin layer gives you brighter, smoother, more radiant looking skin with a velvety soft texture. The trick is to know your skin and only exfoliate as much as your skin can handle.
You can use simple physical methods to exfoliate. Determine how much exfoliation your skin needs and wants as you gauge the feel while gently massage the exfoliating product onto your skin. The amount of pressure you apply, and amount of time you massage, give you complete control.
Alternatively, you can use chemical methods to exfoliate. This is done with products containing alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids and other skin peeling acids, which can all be used in D.I.Y. home treatments. You can also apply daily exfoliation products that contain these ingredients, or that contain another great exfoliating ingredient – the retinoids (such as Retin A or Professional Retinol.)
You can also have exfoliation procedures done professionally such as microdermabrasion or acid peels done by a skin care professional. The trick is to find the product or procedure that suits your skin because chemical exfoliation is always a little irritating and can be unpredictable if your skin is more sensitive than you anticipated.
You have a lot of options for exfoliation and it’s important to find the right method for your particular skin and budget.
What are the best types of exfoliation that we use in my dermatology practice to help shrink the appearance of pores?
Physical Skin Exfoliation Options
- Facial Buf Puf Sponge, which is a simple and inexpensive way to exfoliate. You can use it with your favorite skin cleanser.
- A gritty scrub can be used twice a week to exfoliate. I like products with rounded grains instead of angular crystals that can create micro-scratches on the skin surface. A great option is my Bamboo and Clay Thermal Scrub.
- Microdermabrasion treatments done professionally by aestheticians are another option for exfoliation. I instruct my patients to have these at 6-to-8-week intervals to keep their skin tone and texture in top shape. It’s a simple, controlled, superficial sanding of the dead skin cells to create radiant, smooth skin texture and a smaller pore appearance, especially when followed by a facial. To learn more about the benefits of microdermabrasion facials click here for my aesthetician’s description of the procedure.
Chemical Skin Exfoliation
- Tretinoin is my favorite treatment to maintain exfoliated skin. It’s a prescription. Non-prescription retinoids are good exfoliants too such as my professional strength Retinol Night Cream.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) can be used in your at-home skin care products or can be done as peels by aestheticians, nurses or physicians. Glycolic acid is the best AHA for exfoliation and I love the results that it has on skin. I have a full collection of the strongest professional glycolic acid products available and have used them on myself and my patients for over 20 years. They allow you to slowly step up to the stronger levels as your skin is conditioned by the lower concentration products (which are still stronger than non-professional AHA products!) My Glycolic Acid Facial Kit gives you professional glycolic acid exfoliation combined with physical exfoliation for the best results.
- Beta Hydroxy Acid (salicylic acid) is commonly used for acne. It can be used in at-home products at a concentration of 2%, or you can have in-office peels using higher concentrations. My office staff and aesthetician’s clients love the instant refinement of skin tone and texture that they get with a BHA peel. The home use salicylic acid products that I recommend for my patients are my Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser and my Acne Treatment Pads. Neutrogena also has a salicylic acid wash and toner that people like too.
What are some of the other treatments and tricks to make your pores appear smaller?
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments and lasers are also fantastic for refining the texture and appearance of pores. Skin feels incredible after a treatment. I use Sciton’s BBL for IPL treatments and I love the results. IPL treatments can be done on fair to moderately-pigmented skin (up to Fitzpatrick type 4).
Laser peels can help too. I can add a MicroLaser Peel to any BBL treatment to really help de-plump the top skin layer and minimize the appearance of pores. Fractionated laser treatments like our ProFractional Erbium Laser or the Fraxel can help remodel dermal and epidermal structure to shrink pore size too.
Unclog your clogged pores because clogged pores look bigger. Unclogging your pores and getting all the oil, dead skin and debris out will go a long way to improving the appearance of your skin texture. Click here for the link to my post on How to Unclog Your Clogged Pores.
Now the bad news: The size of your pores can’t actually change very much.
It’s sad but true. Nothing can really make the pore diameter radically smaller.
But, remember the good news, you can change how big they look with the tricks I mentioned above! If your large pores appear smaller, then your skin looks great, and that’s what matters.
Photo: Thanks and Gratitude to DownTownPictures