Pores are so important to skin health. They allow hair, which keeps our bodies warm, to grow through the skin. They secrete an oily substance known as sebum that keeps skin moisturized and protects it from germs and environmental stress. But enlarged pores feel like more of a nuisance than a benefit. Hard to cover up, and even harder to shrink, large pores can put a damper on your best-laid makeup plans...and your confidence.
We wanted to know if you could actually shrink pores, so we asked Dr. Gervaise Gerstner for advice. She’s been a dermatologist for 14 years, and is currently the consulting dermatologist for L’Oréal Paris. Genetics and excessive sebum, she says, are the main culprits behind enlarged pores. And while some people may require Fraxel® laser treatments to minimize pores, most can do so with a few simple skin care changes.
Excessive amounts of dirt and oil can clog pores, making them appear larger and giving skin a greasy “orange peel” texture. Dr. Gerstner recommends exfoliating skin a few times a week to slough off debris. She prefers chemical exfoliants like glycolic or salicylic acid over manual ones, because they help with oil control.
Try this: Bliss Peeling Groovy Facial Serum ($65︱shop it)
Derived from Vitamin A, retinol shrinks pores by decreasing the amount of sebum that they produce. While sebum plays an important role in keeping skin hydrated—it’s made up of a mixture of fats, proteins, and inorganic salts—too much of it can make pores larger. Consistent use of products that contain retinol, says Dr. Gerstner, will shrink pores in the long run. Added bonus: they’ll also shrink fine lines!
Try this: SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.25 ($60)
Unfortunately, exfoliation and retinol won’t change your skin’s appearance overnight. The good news is: while you wait for their effects to kick in, you can conceal large pores with face primers. They provide a flawless base for foundation by smoothing out fine lines, acne scars, and pores.
Try this: Anna Sui Pore Smoothing Primer ($25︱shop it)