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How To “Shrink” Your Pores, According to A Top Dermatologist

Walk past any beauty aisle and you'll see a plethora of products that claim to “shrink” pores or make them completely disappear. But, can you really shrink your pores? What makes them appear larger than life in the first place? We asked Dr. Howard Sobel, New York City dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin, all our most pressing pore-related questions. If you're in the market for products that will minimize pore appearance, looking for pore-reducing creams that actually work, or wondering if laser treatments are an option for you, keep reading below.

Can you actually shrink pores?

Going to hit you with a harsh truth out the gate: "You can minimize the appearance of your pores, but because pore sizes are genetically determined, you can’t really shrink them," explains Dr. Sobel. "Your pores can get stretched out when they’re consistently clogged, which makes them appear bigger." Aging and exposure to UV rays and pollution can lead to loss of collagen which can in turn increase your pore size, adds Dr. Sobel. Instead of shrinking pores you can move to making them less visible.

What causes the appearance of large pores?

Pores are genetically determined, depending on how your glands are structured. Dr. Sobel explains that people with dry skin and fair skin tend to have smaller pores while oily skin and darker, more olive skin tones, tend to have more visible pores.

How can you make your pores look smaller?

LHA Cleanser Gel

SkinCeuticals dermstore.com


The best way to prevent pores from getting larger is to exfoliate and to wear sunscreen. "Salicylic acid exfoliates differently than alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid," explains Dr. Sobel. "Salicylic acid is oil soluble, meaning it’s able to get inside pores to gently push out dead skin, bacteria, sebum, and any other pore-clogging debris." By removing that debris from your pores, your pores will appear smaller.

Do chemical peels reduce pore size?

A chemical peel cannot change the size of your pores, it can, however, make them less noticeable. Chemical peels are most commonly used to remove the outer damaged layers of the skin with an acidic solution to improve skin’s appearance and texture. They can be done at home, or in the dermatologist's office. You should speak with your dermatologist to find the right one for your skin.

What key ingredients should you look for to reduce pore size?

"Retinoids help increase cellular turnover and stimulate collagen production," explains Dr. Sobel. "By increasing cellular turnover, it effectively exfoliates dead skin cells, dirt and oil." Collagen also helps your skin look firmer, thus minimizing the appearance of pores.

Time Retreat Radiance Boost Treatment

Eve Lom dermstore.com


DermalQuench Liquid Lift + Retinol Advanced Resurfacing Treatment

KATE SOMERVILLE nordstrom.com


Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare dermstore.com


Intense Defense Anti-Aging and Repair Serum

Epionce dermstore.com


What products should you avoid?

Dr. Sobel suggests avoiding pore-clogging ingredients, like heavy oils, and look for non-comedogenic makeup and skincare brands that are specially formulated, so they don’t clog pores, cause irritation, or lead to breakouts.

What procedures help reduce pore size?

Fraxel Re:store Dual Repair 1550 and Clear and Brilliant are two of the best available treatments to help minimize the appearance of pores, according to Dr. Sobel. They are non-ablative fractional resurfacing treatments that stimulates the body’s natural skin cells and increases collagen production. It’s also great for treating scarring, age spots, and fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes. Clear + Brilliant is a more gentle treatment.

Vivace Microneedling is another treatment that Dr. Sobel recommends. It is the newest generation of radiofrequency and microneedling treatment. It stimulates the natural production of collagen and helps improve skin tone and texture, tightens the skin and minimizes pore size.

As always, the best advice is talk to a trusted dermatologist for the right solution for you.

Chloe Hall Chloe Hall is an editor, producer, and Instagrammer who covers beauty, fashion, culture and Rihanna at ELLE.com. Read More

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