How to Get Smaller Pores: a Definitive Guide to Refining Your Skin

As told by a top derm.

Clogged pores, blocked pores, open pores, large pores: call them what you want - they're a universal pain. If you've never googled "how to get rid of pores" you're either a) lying, or b) have the most refined skin on planet earth and must @ us immediately, thanks.

Everyone's got em, but most people wish they didn't - or that they were smaller at least. What's annoying is when they're overtly visible - which tends to be the case on places like your chin, forehead and nose (aka T-zone).

Spoiler: how big your pores appear actually has nothing to do with their size (flabbergasting, we know). Before we get to that, let's start from the very top...

WTF are pores, anyway?

You may (or may not) be shocked to discover that pores are just the end of our sebaceous glands, as Dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting explains. "The pore is the visible end of a flimsy tube (the sebaceous gland duct) that transports sebum to the skin’s surface and is held in its upright position in the skin by the ‘scaffolding’ protein collagen." Gotcha.

Why are my pores so big?

Contrary to popular opinion, your pores can't actually grow. Their original size is determined by your genetics, but you'd be right in thinking that they can sometimes appear to look larger. Yes, it's v annoying. Why does this happen!? Apparently, there are two reasons, which Dr Sam sheds light on...

  1. Excess sebum: "Increased sebum through the funnel makes pores more visible. If your skin is oily, pores will appear larger than if you have normal or dry skin because of the increased flow of oil."
  2. Ageing: "It also happens as we get older, when ageing and UV damage have broken down collagen, allowing the pore to ‘flop’ open more."

Ok, so how can I make my pores look smaller?

Happy days! There are various relatively simple steps you can take that will make a visible difference to your pores. Dr Sam advices three main things: reduce sebum, avoid a build up of dead skin and stimulate collagen. Simples. As well as this, keeping up a consistent, regular skincare routine is paramount. You should be cleansing, toning and moisturising every single day. Don't skip washing your face, ok?

What products help minimise pores?

Remember those fun little pore strips you used to plaster across your face before you discovered real skincare solutions? Yeah, bin those. They'll work there and then, sure, but the effects wont be long lasting. For that, you're going to need to feed you skin some of the good stuff. Take notes, people.

Avoid a build up of dead skin

This is of the upmost importance if you're after a more preened, poreless complexion. Incorporate a regular exfoliator to slough off dead skin and unclog pores (thanks, salicylic acid), without leaving your face red or irritated.

Reduce sebum

To tackle your (self proclaimed) gross pores, you've got to get to the source. As we've discussed, sebum really is the perpetrator in all of this. So, you're looking for products that can handle their weight around a little oil.

Stimulate collagen

Something that is forever at the forefront of our mind: increasing collagen is also a must if you're into getting pin prick pores. "Use sunscreen daily - it’s the single most effective tool for preserving our precious collagen supplies," urges Dr Sam.

She also recommends the most prestigious power player in the anti ageing world: retinol.