How to Minimize Stubbornly Large Pores

While there's no way to permanently shrink pores (which is definitely a good thing—they are there for a reason) we completely understand the struggle of wanting a smoother, cleaner, and more flawless complexion. Pore size is genetically based, but that doesn't mean that certain lifestyle choices and beauty habits aren't adding to the enlarged effect. We've compiled some of the biggest causes of unsightly pores and exactly how to reverse their effects, so all you have to do is sit tight and take some notes. 

The Problem: Sun Damage


Solution: Collagen and elastin, two major ingredients found in your skin, work to keep your complexion renewed, resilient, and elastic. Unfortunately, excess sun exposure can wreak havoc on collagen and elastin, damaging them to the extent that they can no longer support your pores. When pores go unsupported, they sag and in turn look a lot larger. So, if you're ready to repair your skin, you can look for collagen-boosting products and ingredients, but prevention is always the best option. Slather on some facial sunscreen, making sure that it's totally oil-free (a clogged pore is a bad pore, as you'll learn soon!). We recommend Neutrogena's Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen ($11.49 at Neutrogena.com). 

The Problem: Excess Exfoliation


Solution: Exfoliation is the answer to every skin problem, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, you've probably only been hearing half-truths. While exfoliation is necessary to shed dead skin and remove build-up in your pores, too much exfoliation may actually worsen the problem! It's all about balance, which means that you should only be exfoliating one or two times a week, max. The problem with anything more is that it can inflame or upset your skin, leading to angry pores (we're sorry pores, we'll be gentler from now on!). Gentleness is key, which is why exfoliating cleanses for sensitive skin work best. Rather than use rough cleansing beads, try a soft cleansing brush like Olay's Pro X Advanced Cleansing System ($39.99 at Target).

The Problem: Activity Level


Solution: Here's the good news: we applaud you for your daily trip to the gym, and couldn't be prouder of your dedication! Now, the bad. Unfortunately, any makeup you're patting on before your barre class or cross-fit session is going to dirty up your pores faster than you can run those sprints. The excess sweating that inevitably occurs during any workout is going to clog your pores and trap whatever makeup is there beneath it—yuck! While it may be hard to go bare-faced, your pores will seriously thank you. As our favorite gym mantra reminds us, no pain, no gain. 

The Problem: Excess Oil


Solution: Excess oil is a pore's worst enemy. It may be time to replace your cleansers, moisturizers, and even your sunscreens with oil-free alternatives if you're devoted to smaller pores. Of course, realistically, no one wants to ditch their entire beauty routine and waste perfectly good products. If you can't let go of your beauty bag staples, make sure that all of that oil is removed as soon as the day is done. The heat involved in a salon steaming treatment can loosen solidified oil trapped in your skin, but if you're more of an at-home kind of girl, don't fret! Oil's biggest enemy? Charcoal. That soot is specifically made to cling to and extract all of the bad stuff causing a traffic jam in your pores. From oil to dirt, products like Biore's Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strips ($6.29 at Target) and Deep Charcoal Cleanser ($5.99 at Target) work wonders for clearer skin. After all, there's a reason Biore's slogan is "free your pores!"

The Problem: Summertime Clogging


Solution: Summertime is particularly dangerous for pore flare-ups. Oily sunscreen, melted makeup, and extra sweat are all seeping in (ahh!). Don't even try to get away with sleeping with your makeup on—we know the sultry smudged eyeliner is appealing, but while you can fake that look, you can't fake smaller pores! Establish a thorough nighttime routine that includes makeup removal and cleansing. Opt for products that contain salicylic and glycolic acids (which combat enlarged pores and acne) and retinols (which boost collagen). Look for products that boast being non-comedogenic, which is science slang for not clogging pores. One of our personal favorite products is 40 Carrots' Carrot + Creme Cleanser ($15 at Walgreens.com). It isn't drying so it's totally safe to use daily, and the carrot cake smell is heavenly. Just remember, it's best to use a makeup remover first and then cleanse, just to make sure everything is gone.

The Problem: Picking and Popping


Solution: We aren't going to pretend that picking and popping isn't temporarily rewarding, and even sometimes addicting. But that's just the problem. If you're constantly irritating your face, it's going to flare up like nobody's business. If you absolutely must pop a blemish, experts recommend using a sterilized needle. But since that sounds kind of scary, your best bet is to leave your pores alone altogether. On that note, whenever you're touching your face, make sure your hands are clean. If you haven't realized already, the clearer your skin the better when it comes to smaller pores. 

The Problem: Inflammation


Solution: So, we've reached you just a little too late—you've exfoliated to the extreme or you've picked until your pores completely rebel. All hope is not lost! It's time to find a calming cream to settle down the agitation. Aveeno's Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer ($13.99 at Soap.com) is the perfect match for your pouting pores. It's got SPF 15 to help prevent pore-enlarging sun damage, and is non-comedogenic, oil-free, soothing, and redness-reducing—basically, a pore saver in a bottle! And to make your makeup slide on silky smooth, try a blur cream like Benefit's The POREfessional ($31 at Sephora). These primers minimize the outward appearance of pores by temporarily filling them in. 

While large pores are a pain, they can be minimized with a change in habits and a little bit of patience. Stick it through and you'll be virtually pore-free in no time.