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The Truth About “Pore-Shrinking” Products

It’s time to learn the truth about pore-shrinking products and the size of your pores.

There’s something paradoxical about pores. They’re essential to the functioning of healthy skin, producing the sebum that works as your skin’s natural moisturizer and keeping your face glowing, soft, and smooth. They also rank high on most people’s list of skin woes: blocked pores, dark pores, big, visible pores that ruin that same smooth and flawless look they’re trying to create. Skin care enthusiasts spend countless hours, not to mention millions of dollars annually, trying to purge their pores, shrink them, and blur them into non-existence with “pore-shrinking” products. But is it actually possible to eliminate the beauty scourge of visible pores once and for all?

Let’s start with the bad news. If you’re looking for a way to shrink your pores into nigh-invisibility, we hate to break it to you, but it’s not going to happen. The actual size of your pores is controlled by two primary factors: genetics and collagen. What we in the beauty scene refer to as pores are actually just the openings of follicles on the skin surface. Yes, follicles like hair. You know that soft, nearly invisible peach-fuzz (also known as vellus hair) that covers most of your face? Those follicles are where that hair come from, but there’s more going on in your follicles than just hair. Most teardrop-shaped follicles also contain a sebaceous gland, where the fats and proteins that make up skin oil is produced. If everything is running smoothly, that oil exits the follicle through your pore and keeps skin in good condition.

Your genes factor in when it comes to oil production. Oilier skin types tend to have larger pores to facilitate sebum and soughed skin cells exiting the follicle in a timely fashion (if that stuff backs up, you can wind up with acne), while dry types don’t produce as much oil and tend to have teenier follicle openings.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that you can do to change your skin type (though it does begin to shift as you age) but keeping pores clean excess oil and makeup or product debris will help prevent them from standing out. For a really thorough clean, we recommend a double-cleaning routine, starting with an oil cleanser (we like Banila Co. Clean It Zero Purity) to break up sebum and makeup, followed by a water-based cleanser (try Neogen Cranberry Real Fresh Foam Cleanser) that will lift away dirt, sweat, and pollution, all of which can darken and ultimately clog pores, turning your nose into a connect-the-dots.


For dry and normal skin types, regular cleansing may be enough to keep pores looking unobtrusive, but if you’re oil prone, more drastic measures may be necessary. Chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid or glycolic acid can help melt down dead skin cells so they can be swept away more easily. Look for them in My Skin Mentor Dr. G Brightening Peeling Cream.


Pore strips can also be effective in temporarily purging sebaceous filaments (you know, those little gray not-blackheads that crop up on even the cleanest skin.) While sebaceous filaments are perfectly natural and harmless, if they build up too wide, they do have the potential to stretch out your pore. Just like your favorite sweater, once that pore is stretched out, it will never fully shrink back down to its original size. To combat that, use a multi-step nose pack like the Skinmiso Pore Beauty Nose Pack


Unlike your genetic predisposition to oil production, how much collagen your skin produces is something that you can cultivate. If you spend a lot of time thinking about wrinkle-prevention, you’re probably aware that collagen is a major building-block of skin that helps keep it smooth, bouncy, and elastic (aka young-looking.)

As we age, our collagen production slows down, making us more prone to wrinkles, but that loss of elasticity can also make pores sag, too. Saggy pores equals bigger, more obvious openings which equals way less chance of pulling off that velvet-smooth Instagram face. To fight back, look for products that boost collagen production (we like Etude House Moistfull Collagen Emulsion) to help keep pores in shape.


+ Do you have any tips for how to make pores look smaller? Share them below!

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