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How to Minimize the Appearance of Your Pores

If you’re looking for flawless skin — and who isn’t?! — one of the best ways to get a better complexion is to minimize pores. That’s why there are loads of products and procedures out there to do just that. And while there are options for how to minimize pores, no matter your skin type, it’s important to know you can’t get rid of them completely. Pores are part of the structure of your skin and their size is mostly dictated by genes, which determines how glands are structured. Pores play a crucial role by allowing skin to breathe. A few other factors can influence their size, including aging, pollution and UV rays. The latter two can trigger a loss of collagen, leading pores to expand in size. Skin type also has a big influence on pore size. People with dry and fair skin are more likely to have smaller pores, while those with oily and olive or darker skin tones tend to have more visible pores.

So how can you minimize pores? When they look big, it’s because they’re temporarily enlarged by gunk like dead skin cells, dirt and oil on the skin. Unclogging them and keeping them as clear as possible is the best way to shrink pores and keep them at their smallest size possible. To help you do just that, we break down how to minimize pores with a few simple tactics that deliver results.


1. Cleanse regularly and thoroughly

The easiest way to keep pores clean is to wash your face daily. Twice a day is best, but if you can only muster up the energy for a single wash, it’s best to save it for before bedtime to wash the day away, since you don’t want that sitting on your face all night. Regular face washing also provides gentle exfoliation, which is key to preventing dirt, oil and pollution from building up in pores and expanding them. Remember, empty pores are smaller pores! To really loosen up whatever is trapped in your pores, heat or steam will open them up, so applying a warm washcloth to your face before sudsing up can help.

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Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser

True to its name, this daily cleanser contains salicylic acid to dissolve build up in pores to keep them tight and prevent breakouts. The gel texture washes away dirt, oil and impurities, leaving skin soothed and clean.

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2. Wear sunscreen every day

We know you probably haven’t been spending as much time al fresco as usual thanks to coronavirus, but no matter what, you should still be slathering on sunscreen every day, rain or shine. Even when you barely go outside, you’re still susceptible to sun damage since harmful rays can come through windows. So how does this relate to pores? Sun damage can break down collagen in the skin, which is what keeps your complexion tight and firm. That loss of elasticity makes it easier for pores to stretch. To truly protect your skin, opt for a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.

CeraVe Face Moisturizer with SPF 30

Gentle enough for even the most sensitive, acne-prone skin, CeraVe’s sunscreen is a twofer for delivering SPF 30 protection and major moisture. A go-to recommendation by dermatologists, the formula is chock full of ceramides to restore and strengthen the skin’s natural protective barrier, as well as hyaluronic acid to deliver hydration. Meanwhile, it’ll guard skin from UVA and UVB rays.

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3. Treat breakouts

As if breakouts aren’t annoying enough, the aftermath they leave behind can be even worse. Zapping zits is actually a key tactic of how to minimize pores. A blackhead or pimple is essentially a clogged and irritated pore, so the fewer of those you have, the less your pores will get stretched. If you’re prone to acne, sticking to a clarifying routine will do wonders for your complexion. Otherwise, a spot treatment will help keep things under control.

Differin Gel Acne Spot Treatment

One of the best over the counter spot treatments, this not only heals current breakouts but also prevents new ones from forming. Adapalene, a type of retinoid that’s known for being more tolerable, does the heavy lifting to clear skin. The multitasker also reduces scarring and hyperpigmentation.

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4. Opt for acids

Chemical exfoliation is one of the best ways for how to minimize pores. The go-to chemical exfoliant recommend by dermatologists is a glycolic acid because it does double duty to absorb excess oil and dissolve dead skin cells that are clogging up pores. The runner up is lactic acid, which tends to be a little weaker than glycolic acid but is still effective.

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Glycolic acid takes center stage in this toner that gently exfoliates by boosting cellular turnover, minimizing fine lines along the way. It also contains grapefruit to brighten dull skin and aloe vera to balance and soften.

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5. Commit to a retinoid

Retinoids are the magical multitaskers of the skincare world and one of their many powers is reducing the size of pores. In case you’re wondering what else is on the list, the vitamin A derivative boosts collagen production in the skin while decreasing oil output, giving it the ability to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, even tone and texture, prevent breakouts and reduce dark spots. The only catch is retinoids can be drying and irritating, especially if you have sensitive or super dry skin, so start with a lower strength and only apply it once or twice a week, then gradually build up the frequency and the strength to avoid a reaction. Make sure to use a moisturizer with it to keep skin hydrated and happy.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

You don’t have to go to the derm to get a prescription-strength retinoid. This fragrance-free, oil-free and non-comedogenic formula, powered by adapalene 0.1%, is the first FDA approved prescription-strength retinoid acne treatment available OTC. Apply it once a day to prevent and clear up blackheads, whiteheads and clogged pores.

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6. Add a weekly scrub to your Skincare Routine

You can definitely have too much of a good thing when it comes to scrubs, so just once a week is plenty, since over-exfoliating can lead to a host of other problems. On that note, look for a gentle formula that won’t end up irritating your skin, which can cause swelling and might leave pores looking even larger. The best scrubs go deep into pores to get gunk out.

Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub 

Salicylic acid goes deep into pores to clean out dirt and oil, leaving pores deeply cleansed and skin exfoliated. That means blemishes are much less likely to happen. The formula is gentle enough to be used daily.

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7. Unclog with clay and charcoal masks

These two ingredients are superstars when it comes to how to minimize pores. Charcoal draws out impurities, while clay gets out all the oil that can get stuck inside, which is notorious for making pores look much larger than their actual size. Aim to have a mini spa moment with a mask about once a week.

Freeman Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Facial Mask

The dream team of charcoal and mud team up to majorly detox pores, smooth and purify. In just 10 minutes skin will be left clean, clear and deeply moisturized.

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Blackheads Be Gone: The Best Skincare Products to De-Congest Pores