Pore Control 101: How to Minimize Pores

Reading time: 8 minutes
by Ben Gentzler
April 11, 2022

If you have skin, you have pores – the tiny openings through which sweat and sebum flow. They’re at the surface level of the skin channels known as follicles. Every follicle contains a hair, a sweat gland, and a sebaceous gland. (Small wonder that they can be a hotbed of skin problems!)

Pores perform important functions for the body, but most people would prefer not to have them at all – or at least look as though they didn’t. That’s because pores can also cause problems. For various reasons, outlined below, pores can become overly visible and appear enlarged. They’re also prone to clogs. For those in search of glass skin, pores can be an impediment. But they don’t need to be! First, you need to understand the factors contributing to your visible pores.

What causes large pores?

Acne and age are two of the most common culprits behind large pores. When pores are clogged, they’re more visible. Even if pores aren’t plugged, excessive oiliness, in general, will also make pores seem bigger. If your skin is irritated or inflamed (either due to acne or to you trying to resolve your acne with harsh skincare products or by playing dermatologist and attempting your own extractions), pores will be more apparent. 

Human skin structure graphic

But it’s not only the acne-prone who can be plagued by pores that seem excessively oversized. Sagging skin also stretches out pores, so they appear bigger. This loss of firmness may be due to age or sun damage or a combination of both. 

The important thing to keep in mind is that pores are not valves – you can’t just open and close them at will. There are, however, a variety of ways to minimize the appearance of pores quickly, easily, and in the long term. 

7 ways to minimize pores

Cleanse with AHAs & BHAs 

If your issue is acne, start your skincare routine on the right foot by using an exfoliating cleanser containing alpha and beta hydroxy acids, two types of chemical exfoliants. AHAs and BHAs are a better choice than a grainy face wash made with scrubbing beads because those mechanical methods can irritate the complexion, which is counterproductive to the minimized pores you’re trying to achieve.

AHAs and BHAs dissolve the glue holding dead cells to the skin’s surface, as well as holding them together inside a pore. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel is formulated with a blend of both, like dermatologist-favorite glycolic acid (an AHA) and Salix alba, an extract of willow bark (a BHA). For best results, wash your face with warm – not hot – water twice a day (hot water is also irritating), and never, ever go to sleep with makeup on.

Reach for Chemical Peels

While physical scrubs are a hard no, you do need to get rid of dead cells and debris regularly to keep pores from clogging. For efficacious exfoliation without irritation, make like a dermatologist by doing your own, at-home chemical peel every day. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peels come in three varieties (Universal, Extra Strength, and Ultra Gentle), so you can find the one that best suits your skin’s individual needs without having to forgo the benefits of consistent exfoliation.

Add Retinol to Your Routine

Whether your enlarged pores are the result of acne or aging, you can’t go wrong by incorporating retinol into your skincare routine. The vitamin A derivative, another dermatologist mainstay, stimulates cell turnover, which leads to increased production of skin-firming collagen. Retinol is also proven to improve skin tone and texture, as well as help regulate sebum production for fewer clogged pores.

In addition, Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum also contains a plethora of other ultra-beneficial ingredients like ferulic acid, which helps mitigate any possible retinol-induced irritation, and the antioxidant rambutan, which neutralizes free radicals while also upping collagen manufacture. Apply your retinol product at night, so it can work with your skin is in repair mode.

Try a Pore Refining Serum

Ensure your daytime skincare is also pulling its weight by using a silicone-free serum that acts like a typical pore-minimizing primer but without any ingredients that trigger oil production. (Spoiler alert: Most skincare products designed to make pores appear smaller spur the skin to make more oil. This is extremely unhelpful.) Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting & Refining Serum uses agarikon mushroom – not silicone – to reduce surface shine, plus AHAs, BHAs, and farnesol to dissolve the buildup on pore walls.

Stick with an Oil-Free Moisturizer 

After you’ve done all this work to keep your pores flushed out, it would be a really oxymoronic move to reverse your accomplishments by layering on a pore-clogging moisturizer as a top layer. Don’t do it! Instead, opt for an oil-free lotion that will provide hydration (any dermatologist will tell you that we all need it – even the oiliest of complexions), but won’t compromise the rest of your skincare regimen.

Not only is Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Moisturizer formulated without a drop of oil, but it also boosts skin barrier-strengthening ceramides, skin-soothing bisabolol, and skin-clearing AHAs and BHAs.

Don’t Forget Sunscreen

We know it sounds as though we’re beating a dead horse at this point, but daily sunscreen application is the rule, not a “nice to have,” dependent on your schedule and inclination. Why this sun-protection obsession?

While you can’t control the passage of time, you can prevent UV-induced skin damage by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, like Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, every single day. This will help skin stay firm and lifted, as opposed to saggy and riddled with enlarged pores.

Treat Your Skin to a Clay Mask

For a fast fix, treat your skin to a quick clay mask. Certain types of clay (such as bentonite) have the ability to suck up surface oil like a sponge, then rinse off easily, taking excess sebum with them down the drain. Dr. Dennis Gross DRx Blemish Solutions Clarifying Mask is rich in bentonite, as well as kaolin clay, which lightly exfoliates (in addition to absorbing oil) to reveal a brighter complexion.

In addition, this mask, which can also be used as a spot treatment, boasts colloidal sulfur, a dermatologist go-to for drying up blemishes and balancing sebum production. As if that weren’t enough, it’s also made with aloe to soothe any acne-induced irritation.

Discover Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare for All Your Skincare Needs

For more skincare tips from the experts at Dr. Dennis Gross, check out our blog’s newest content today. Shop the collection of Dr. Dennis Gross bestselling skincare backed by dermatologists.

Written By

Ben Gentzler

Ben is an Education professional with 16 years of experience in prestige/professional skincare and beauty. Brand, retail, and professional/spa education & training.

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Written By

Ben Gentzler

Ben is an Education professional with 16 years of experience in prestige/professional skincare and beauty. Brand, retail, and professional/spa education & training.

MORE FROM Ben Gentzler

Layering 101: How to Layer Skincare Products

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