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How Can I Make My Pores Look Smaller?

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How can you get smaller pores? Unfortunately, that's a tall order. The size of your pores, which are tiny openings connecting the sebaceous glands and hair follicles to the skin's surface, depends largely on genetics. It tends to increase due to collagen loss caused by another factor you can't control: age [source: Saint Louis]. Pimples, sun damage and trauma to the skin can also permanently widen pores [source: Whitmore].

Few treatments actually reduce the size of your pores, and there is no solution that eliminates them entirely. Isotretinoin, a prescription-only oral retinoid for treating severe acne, can make pores smaller, but the effect doesn't always last after people stop taking it. (The medication has also been linked to numerous side effects, including serious birth defects.) Certain in-office laser treatments can also permanently shrink pores by condensing collagen while simultaneously increasing collagen production [source: Huffington Post].

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But if you've been stocking up on miracle potions that promise to diminish or eradicate your pores, ask for your money back. And while you're at it, consider returning that ultra-high-definition camcorder too. Experts have noticed a surge in concern about pore size -- an obsession dubbed "porexia" -- in the HDTV era [source: Saint Louis].

But while you can't change your pores' dimensions without taking extreme measures, there are things you can do to make them appear smaller and less noticeable. With a little effort, you can also minimize how much they stretch over time. Keep reading to find out more.

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What makes your pores look especially huge? Dirt, makeup, sebum (oil) and dead skin cells can build up in the little holes, forming plugs that enlarge them. (Besides widening the pores, these clogs can also lead to blackheads, whiteheads and pimples when bacteria are present.) So the key to making pores appear smaller is keeping them as clear as possible. Here's how:

  • Keep your face clean. Most importantly, never go to bed with a day's worth of grime and cosmetics coating your skin and settling into your pores. You'll also want to scrub up after workouts, since sweat can carry debris into the pore openings [source: Whitmore]. If your skin tends to be on the greasy side, choose an oil-free foaming cleanser with salicylic acid, which helps dissolve and loosen sebum [source: Taylor].
  • Exfoliate regularly. To dislodge blockages and slough off dead skin cells, use an exfoliating scrub or a treatment containing chemical exfoliants such as glycolic or lactic acids [source: Taylor]. Electric face cleansing brushes can also be extremely effective [source: Jones].
  • Use a retinoid. Incorporate an over-the-counter retinol product or a prescription retinoid, such as tretinoin, into your skin-care routine. These treatments decrease oil production and accelerate skin cell turnover, helping prevent clogs from forming [source: Baumann].
  • Try a clay mask. Clay is thought to absorb oil and water, drawing debris out of the pores. Don't use clay masks too frequently, however, since they can dry and irritate the skin [source: Bailey].
  • Consider an in-office treatment. Talk to a dermatologist about professional procedures that can unclog pores, such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, light therapy, laser treatments and Isolaz, a procedure that uses a vacuum to loosen dirt and oil from pores and then zaps them with a broadband light to destroy the bacteria [source: Litke].
  • Choose the right makeup. Applying primer and foundation can help camouflage enlarged pores, but you don't want to clog them in the process. Look for oil-free and noncomedogenic products, and opt for a matte finish over shimmery powders that reflect light [source: Taylor].

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Pore size tends to increase with age, but you don't have to sit back and watch it happen. Along with preventing and clearing clogs, there are steps you can take to keep your pores looking youthful. Here are some suggestions:

  • Avoid sun damage. Over time, sun exposure degrades collagen, the connective tissue that supports the pores, allowing them to stretch and sag. Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher [source: Litke]. If you spend much of the day outdoors, you'll want to reapply frequently.
  • Protect your collagen. Not only does the protein collagen keep the skin firm and supple, but it also maintains the pores' tightness. Use anti-aging products that boost and retain your collagen levels, such as topical antioxidants (vitamins C and E) and retinoids [source: Padykula].
  • Don't touch. If you pop or pick at a pimple, you may risk permanently widening the diameter of an inflamed pore. Squeezing blemishes can also lead to scarring, so leave the extractions to the professionals [source: Santillano].
  • Adopt healthy habits. Smoking and excess alcohol reduce blood flow to the skin, leading to wrinkles, dullness and large pores. [source: Daily Perricone].

For more information about pores, check out the links on the next page.

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More Great Links

Sources

  • Bailey, Cynthia. "How to Shrink the Appearance of Large Pores." Dr. Cynthia Bailey Skin Care. (October 11, 2013) http://www.drbaileyskincare.com/blog/how-to-shrink-the-appearance-of-large-pores/
  • Baumann, Leslie. "8 Steps to Smaller Pores." Yahoo. June 20, 2007. (October 11, 2013) http://health.yahoo.net/experts/skintype/8-steps-smaller-pores
  • Daily Perricone. "The 10 Sins of Skin Aging." May 21, 2009. (October 11, 2013) http://www.dailyperricone.com/2009/05/the-10-sins-of-skin-aging/
  • Huffington Post. "Can You Shrink Pore Size? A Top Dermatologist Explains The Possibilities." July 5, 2012. (October 11, 2013) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/shrink-pore-size-face-dermatologist_n_1644018.html
  • Jones, Veronica. "Make Big Pores Look Smaller: 7 Tricks That Work." Makeup.com. August 3, 2011. (October 11, 2013) http://www.makeup.com/article/make-big-pores-look-smaller-7-tricks-that-work/
  • Litke, Cara. "New target for perfectionists: Itty bitty pores." Allure. January 30, 2008. (October 11, 2013) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/22773736/ns/health-skin_and_beauty/t/new-target-perfectionists-itty-bitty-pores/#.Uls0lmRT3_c
  • Padykula, Jessica. "10 Ways to retain and boost your collagen level." SheKnows. January 22, 2013. (October 11, 2013) http://www.sheknows.com/beauty-and-style/articles/981305/10-ways-to-retain-and-boost-your-collagen-level
  • Saint Louis, Catherine. "Do My Pores Look Big to You?" The New York Times. June 1, 2011. (October 11, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/fashion/many-seek-to-minimize-enlarged-pores-for-a-flawless-look.html
  • Santillano, Vicki. "Face Time: Is It Possible to Shrink Pores?" Divine Caroline. (October 11, 2013) http://www.divinecaroline.com/beauty/skincare/face-time-it-possible-shrink-pores
  • Taylor, Jill. "Make Your Pores Invisible." Daily Glow. (October 11, 2013) http://www.dailyglow.com/photo-gallery/make-your-pores-invisible#/slide-1
  • Whitmore, Lisa. "Can You Shrink Your Pores?" Real Simple. (October 11, 2013) http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/skincare/face/shrink-your-pores-00000000043221/index.html

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