How To Shrink Your Pores

How To Shrink Your Pores

Posted by Sonia Bellini on

Help! My pores are huge! It looks like I have a bunch of dots all over my nose, or chin, or cheeks. I hate how it looks, how can I get rid of this? How can I shrink my pores?

Well, to start, you can not actually shrink your pores, as your genes determine their size; however, you can make them appear smaller. There are quite a few steps you can take to decrease the visibility of your pores. To start, pores become clogged when extra dirt, oil, or makeup get lodged into the skin. These clogs can eventually lead to acne, but can be prevented altogether with proper skincare maintenance.

When clogged pores cause breakouts, they can also lead to cystic acne. When pores are clogged, they appear large and have a yellowish-brown hue, which makes the pores more noticeable, decreases skin radiance, and skin can also slacken due to the weight of the clog. Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between a blemish, a scar, or clogging. For example, when Savannah, our marketer, came to Bellini's she realized she had confused a blackhead as a freckle, and acne scars as acne. Below is a quick diagram to that differentiates clogging from blemishes. The main goal in this article is to address and reduce clogged pores. If you need assistance with breakouts, you can read our blog here: 5 Acne Myths - Busted. Stay tuned for our cystic acne blog in the future.



Acne scars

How can I make my pores look smaller?

The first step you must do is address what your current routine is. Do you regularly wear face makeup? If so, does the brand list it as 'won't clog pores', non comedogenic, or oil-free? Excess oil in your products can stick around in your pores. Second, if you wear either makeup or SPF, are you cleaning your face thoroughly at the end of the day? Using your hands alone isn't enough to prevent or address clogging. 

For those with overly oily skin or excessive clogging and acne, using a facial cleansing device, like the Michael Todd Soniclear, would be beneficial. This is because oily skin has the ability to hold tighter onto sebum and oils, so needs an extra boost to get it clean. 

When clogged, pores will appear large and be quite noticeable to the naked eye. First and foremost, unclogged pores will always appear smaller than clogged pores. It should also be noted that clogged pores and enlarged pores are different, and pore size (or enlarged pores) are generally the result of age, genetics, improper skincare, hairs, sun damage, or the pore itself being expanded after being clogged so long. For example, this is why we advise against applying self-tanner immediately after shaving because your pores are enlarged from the hair follicle. You can read more about how to best prepare for self tanning here: Avoid Tan Faux Pas This Summer

There are several ways to help unclog your pores (aside from routine extractions from your esthetician):

  • chemical exfoliation at least 2x a week at home
  • avoiding comedogenic products
  • cleansing your face 2x a day with a washcloth or cleansing device. 

I’ve tried everything from Biore pore strips to lemon juice, nothing is working!

If you’re not seeing results, you may be using the wrong products. You could also greatly benefit from getting a professional facial done, so your esthetician can steam and extract blemishes, milia, and clogging swiftly and without causing the damage one would inflict at home. Regular extractions paired with routine chemical exfoliation will lead to less clogging.

Chemical exfoliation ingredients will also vary depending on skin type, so stay tuned for a future blog post all about chemical exfoliators. You can also schedule a Skin Analysis to evaluate your current routine and get the right products on your skin. Call 503.226.1526 or email anytime for assistance and guidance! 

One of my favorite clay masks for clogged pores is YonKa's Masque 103 (for oily skin) or 105 (for drier skin), as well as SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque. The difference between these masks is both the types of clay used, as well as the goal of each mask. SkinCeuticals uses kaolin and bentonite to draw out excess sebum, whereas YonKa's Masque 103 and 105 use kaoline, bentonite, and montmorillonite clay, as well as essential oils to help balance the skin after sebum removal.

The special thing about the YonKa masques is that they're designed to stay wet, so as to not draw too much oil out of the skin. When you disrupt your skin's natural flora, it reacts by overcompensating. So if you pull too much oil out, your skin will compensate by producing more oil. I love that the YonKa masks are able to be personalized by adding in some Juvenil, for example, to make it extra purifying. In contrast, the SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Mask is designed to remove excess oil while also providing a gentle exfoliation via AHAs. Both are wonderful masks, it just depends on what you're already using and what your goal is.

Sensitive or Reactive Skin Suggestion

If you have sensitive or reactive skin, you should use Phytomer’s Emergence Serum. Emergence is a lightweight, gentle, exfoliating serum. It has a controlled, small percentage of a mixture of three AHAs, Glycolic, Lactic, and Citric Acids, which will help loosen the clogs bonding to your skin. When one has sensitive skin, it is important to use gentle products in order to not get a negative reaction. While it may be daunting to address both acne and sensitive skin, it is possible. I love to use Phytomer on sensitive skin, because it uses ingredients like red algae to exfoliate while still protecting the skin barrier. 

Combination Skin Suggestion

If you have combo skin with mild clogging and breaking out here-and-there, you should use YonKa’s Alpha PeelAlpha Peel has a powerful blend of 15% fruit acids and 8% free acids, including Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid, that gently resurfaces the skin. I love Alpha Peel because it keeps the skin hydrated and radiant, while also providing the gentle exfoliation needed for combination skin. It even works for sensitive or compromised skin, as I have seen my clients who have used tretinoin or accutane to benefit greatly from Alpha Peel because it is gentle enough to be used once daily without compromising the integrity of your skin barrier. Not only does it reduce the appearance of pores, it also helps to smooth fine lines and leaves you with a glowing complexion. 

Oily Skin / Blemishes Skin Suggestion

If you have oily skin with lots of breaking out and deep pimples, you should use SkinCeuticals’s Blemish and Age Defense. With around 9% of Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids - 1.5% Salicylic Acid, 2% Dioic Acid, 3.5% Glycolic Acid, .5% Citric Acid and .3% LHA - this exfoliating acid decongests pores and reduces excess sebum production. Due to its higher concentration of Salicylic Acid (2% is the maximum amount allowed in over the counter products), Blemish and Age Defense is only meant to be used on skin that has excess oil and sebum production that causes breakouts. I have seen amazing success in my clients that start to and consistently use Blemish and Age. The difference between using a product like Blemish and Age versus Alpha Peel is that SkinCeuticals products focus on treatment, whereas YonKa, for example, focuses on treatment as well as maintaining your skin balance. Depending on your clogging severity, you would use a combination of treatment-focused and balancing products. With less severity, it is best to use a product that addresses your concern without disrupting your skin flora, so that you actually make progress towards evening out the texture of your skin (and minimizing pore visibility.)

The key to achieving smaller looking pores, as well as any skincare goal, is consistency. Twice daily cleansing with a washcloth, using chemical exfoliants 2 to 4 nights a week and regularly receiving facials are the top three ways to reduce the appearance of pores. 

Written by Abby Durey, Licensed Esthetician at Bellini’s Skin and Parfumerie.


Draelos ZD. The effect of a daily facial cleanser for normal to oily skin on the skin barrier of subjects with acne. Cutis. 2006 Jul;78(1 Suppl):34-40. PMID: 16910029.

Flament F, Francois G, Qiu H, Ye C, Hanaya T, Batisse D, Cointereau-Chardon S, Seixas MD, Dal Belo SE, Bazin R. Facial skin pores: a multiethnic study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 Feb 16;8:85-93. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S74401. PMID: 25733918; PMCID: PMC4337418.

Lee SJ, Seok J, Jeong SY, Park KY, Li K, Seo SJ. Facial Pores: Definition, Causes, and Treatment Options. Dermatol Surg. 2016 Mar;42(3):277-85. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000000657. PMID: 26918966.

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