All About Pores

The desire for refined pores is a truly universal skincare concern. It spans across all ages and all skin types. Whether you’re eighteen or eighty, everyone seems to be striving for smaller pores and smoother skin texture. Read on for my take on healthy pores and how to separate fact from fiction!

The Pore Shrinkage Myth

The greatest trick the skincare marketing industry ever pulled was convincing the world that pores can open and close. Many DIY facial tips suggest steaming to open pores and splashing with cold water to close them back up. In reality, that would require special muscles around the pores that allow them to constrict, and that skin morphology simply doesn’t exist. Closing your pores is physically impossible.

What’s Really Going On In There?

Pore size is mostly genetic and tied to the rate at which your skin produces oil. However, pores can become stretched over time. This occurs when a buildup of sebum and dead skin cells accumulates in the pore opening and causes it to enlarge. The good news is that many of these effects are reversible.

Tried and True Pore Fixes

You can’t close your pores, but you can minimize their appearance. It all starts with proper cleansing. Regularly removing excess oil and dead cells from the surface of your skin helps prevent that debris from getting trapped in your pores. That’s why daily cleansing plays a big role in achieving and maintaining results. Using a washcloth in conjunction with your favorite cleanser adds a bit of physical exfoliation that also helps loosen up pore congestion.

Next up, facial extractions. Removing any buildup currently stretching the pore immediately reduces pore size and gives you a clean slate. I strongly recommend seeing a professional for facial extractions, since improper technique can cause unnecessary inflammation and may make your pores appear larger. This is one instance in which steam really does help—it won’t open your pores, but it does make skin more pliable and receptive to extractions. An esthetician with extraction experience, proper tools, and steaming equipment will provide the best results and the lowest risk of further stretching or traumatizing the pore.

Home care is essential for maintaining those freshly cleared pores. I recommend a gentle chemical exfoliant—especially if it contains salicylic acid, which is oil-soluble to help break down sebum buildup. Additionally, adding a retinol to your routine helps regulate oil production and refine pore size over time. As I’ve said before, retinol targets virtually every skin concern and pore size is no exception.