The average adult has a whopping five million pores on their body, with close to 20,000 concentrated on their face. While you can’t erase pores completely - they play an important role in skin health - you can tighten their appearance. Read on to learn what causes large pores and how to shrink them.
What Is A Pore?
What is a pore, anyways? Pores are small openings in the skin containing a sebaceous gland that produces sebum (oil) and a hair follicle. These tiny gateways provide a path for sebum to reach the top of the skin and lubricate its surface. The trouble occurs when dead skin and environmental impurities block the pore opening, causing congestion and oil buildup which lead to dull skin and breakouts.
Do Pores Open And Close?
Despite what you’ve been told, pores can’t open and close. In fact, they’re always open - and that’s a good thing. Pores play an important role in skin health, helping your skin stay moisturized; without them, your skin would completely dry out. This said, pores can shrink and enlarge. As Christopher W. Robb MD tells Reader’s Digest, “They dilate like a camera lens and can go from narrow to wide or wide to narrow.”
What Causes Large Pores?
Large pores are caused by a variety of factors, including congestion, the aging process and good old genetics. Here’s a closer look at how each one contributes to pore size.
Oil & Impurities
When impurities settle on the skin, a nasty mixture of dead skin cells, pollution and oil can sink into pores and cause congestion. This produces a clog within the pore and results in a common problem called mechanical dilation. With its exit blocked, the oil produced by the sebaceous gland can no longer flow freely and gets backed up. To compensate, the pore opening stretches, making it appear wider and deeper.
Aging & Sun Damage
With age, the skin produces less collagen and elastin. As the skin around each pore loses its firmness and the ability to bounce back, the pore opening becomes large and distended. The skin’s natural exfoliation process, known as desquamation, also slows over time. This causes a buildup of dead cells on the skin’s surface, filling pores so they stay stretched out. The sun contributes to the appearance of large pores not only by accelerating the aging process but also causing inflammation and thickening of the cells around the pore lining. In fact, sun damage accounts for a massive 80 percent of pore size.
Gender & Genetics
Sometimes, you’re just genetically predisposed to inherit large pores, especially on the nose and cheeks. Men generally have more pronounced pores than women, as do women undergoing hormonal changes such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Your skin type is also a key component: Oily skin types are characterized by a tendency to overproduce sebum, increasing the likelihood of clogged and enlarged pores.
The Best Ingredients To Shrink Large Pores
While you can’t make pores disappear, you can minimize their appearance. Lactic acid, red clover flower extract and ribose are three of the best ingredients to shrink large pores - and happen to be found in Eminence Organics proprietary Lactic Acid Complex.
Lactic Acid Gently Exfoliates
The first step to minimizing pores is exfoliating the skin to clear buildup and congestion. Keeping your pores clean and free of debris will ensure that they do not expand further. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are excellent chemical exfoliants that loosen the “glue” holding dead skin cells together. This allows dead skin to slough away, leaving pore openings clear and reducing the risk of unwelcome clogs. Our favorite is lactic acid - a gentle AHA that can be used daily (even on the most sensitive skin types) and is more hydrating than other alpha hydroxy acids.
Red Clover Flower Extract Tightens Pores
Red Clover Flower Extract is another pore minimizer that can be found in our Lactic Acid Complex. This natural ingredient helps prevent the mechanical dilation of large pores by tackling dead skin cell buildup, excess oil production and loss of elasticity. Paired with lactic acid, red clover extract eliminates debris around the pore opening, helping to ward off clogs and congestion. It also works to regulate oil production, preventing the backlog that contributes to enlarged pores. Lastly, it increases pore contraction, helping mitigate loss of elasticity and enabling pores to shrink to their original size more efficiently.
Ribose Smooths Skin
Ribose steps in to visibly smooth skin, delivering a natural airbrushed finish - without the use of pore-clogging silicones or makeup. Sourced from organic corn seeds, ribose enhances the natural synthesis of structural proteins like collagen and elastin. This tightens skin and improves elasticity, providing pores with the support they need to quickly bounce back. It also has energizing properties that return luminosity to the skin, giving it a bright and radiant looking glow.
Skin Care Routine For Large Pores
You can easily minimize the look of large pores with a targeted skin care routine. Follow these steps for a smooth, poreless-looking complexion.
1. Cleanse & Exfoliate To Unclog Pores
Regular cleansing and gentle exfoliation are essential steps for large pores. These actions remove sebum from the skin’s surface and relieve pore congestion, allowing pores to shrink to their normal size. The best types of cleansers remove excess dirt and oil without over-stripping the skin, allowing it to stay soft and smooth. We suggest our Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Cleanser, a milky gel cleanser which contains lactic acid to both remove buildup and improve skin hydration. Watch Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar's tips for cleansing and exfoliating in the video below.
2. Minimize Pores With A Toner
Toner is one skin care step you don’t want to skip. These fast-absorbing liquids remove lingering impurities and provide additional moisture. The right toner can balance your complexion, provide a base layer of hydration and even target specific skin types and concerns, such as large pores. Our Mangosteen Revitalizing Mist contains red clover extract to minimize pore size and ribose to promote the appearance of smoother skin.
3. Use A Clay Or Charcoal Face Mask
A clay and/or charcoal mask is a must-have for large pores. These ingredients also produce a gentle astringent action that tightens and minimizes pore openings. Moreover, they act like magnets to attract impurities and pull them from pores, clearing congestion and blockages. For skin that is also prone to breakouts, we recommend our Acne Advanced Clarifying Masque. This creamy mask contains clay and charcoal to exfoliate skin, absorb excess oils and deep clean pores.
4. Apply A Pore-Refining Concentrate
Another skin care essential is a pore minimizing serum or concentrate. These potent formulas contain concentrated amounts of active ingredients to target specific skin concerns and conditions. The Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Concentrate contains lactic acid, ribose and red clover flower extract to resurface skin, refine pores and reveal a more even, luminous complexion. The effect is similar to a primer for large pores - without the use of synthetic ingredients like silicone. Eminence Organics fan Abbey says in her five-star review on our website: “My pores look non-existent and they are also clean! I will forever need this in my skin care routine! Point is - if you can see your pores or have congestion/blackheads, you NEED this!”
5. Moisturize - Even If Your Skin Is Oily
Even oily skin needs a solid moisturizer. As Healthline says, “Moisturizing products actually help your natural sebum penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin. This not only reduces the appearance of oiliness, but it also helps condition your skin effectively.” If you’re afraid of clogging your pores, choose non-comedogenic formulas with a lightweight consistency. Our pick is the Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer and it's worth celebrating that this lightweight moisturizer is also the winner of Allure 2021 Best of Beauty: Clean Beauty Product category!
6. Don’t Forget Sun Care
As with any skin care routine, be sure you don’t undo any progress by failing to protect your skin from the sun. Sun care is a crucial step in defending the skin against the drying and aging effects of sun exposure. And, as you know, aging skin contributes to larger looking pores. Apply an SPF moisturizer or dust on a powder formula like our Sun Defense Minerals.
What have you tried to minimize pore size? Let us know in the comments below or ask us on social media.
This article was originally written in September 2018.