How to Shrink Pores: Dermatologist Advice
Time to read 18 min
Time to read 18 min
As a dermatologist in Miami, I'm often asked how to reduce the appearance of large pores. In this post, I'll explain what causes pores to enlarge and provide evidence-based strategies to help shrink pores and make them less visible. I will help you find the best pore minimizer products and cosmetic procedures.
Table of Contents for Shrink Pores with Pore Minimizers
Pores are small openings in the skin connected to hair follicles and oil glands underneath. They serve as channels that allow oil, sweat and dead skin cells to reach the surface of the skin.
Pores can appear to open and close as the skin around them swells and shrinks.
Pores are located all over the body but are most noticeable on the face, particularly in areas with many oil glands like the nose, forehead and chin. Facial pores appear as tiny indentations or holes in the skin's surface.
Pores allow essential functions like oil secretion for moisture and sweating for temperature regulation. But many people desire to minimize the visible appearance of large pores on the face for cosmetic reasons. With age, pores often appear more enlarged due to loss of collagen around them.
While true pore size cannot be reduced, there are several effective strategies to minimize their appearance using various pore minimizers.
Ten ways to minimize pores on the face:
Using the wrong skin care products for your Baumann Skin Type can lead to clogged pores. Take the Baumann Skin Type Quiz to find out which of the 16 Baumann Skin Types you are and build a custom skin care routine from many different brands.
There are many types of pore minimizers.
The best pore minimizers are:
When my patients want to minimize pores, these are the products I recommend. I choose a pore minimizing product from this list based on which Baumann Skin Type they are.
Dermatologist-recommended pore minimizers:
Vichy Mineral Pore Purifying Clay Maskcan be used with other prodcuts on this list. This clay mask is best for oily skin types that want to shrink pores.
I highly recommend that if large pores are a concern that you start using a retinoid like retinol. Here are low strength retinols to get started on. Use one bottle or tube and then increase to a mid strength and then a high strength retinol.
Low strength retinol list to minimize pores:
5 ways to tighten pores:
Place this tool in the refrigerator for an hour.(Or you can keep it in the refrigerator.) Then you can roll it on the skin to help shrink pores immediately.
This works best if you wash your face first with a salicylic acid cleaner or you cleanse with a foaming cleaner and followed by a salicylic acid toner.
Roll this tool on the skin in the T zone, cheeks and chin for 3 minutes.
Salicylic acid is a lipophilic ingredient that can penetrate deep into pores, helping to dissolve and clear out dead skin cells and sebum buildup. This helps reduce pore congestion. Retinol also helps clear pores by increasing skin cell turnover and exfoliation to sweep away pore-clogging debris.
If you have very dry skin, salicylic acid may be too drying. Although BHA (salicylic acid) is better at clearing pores, AHAs can help by increasing exfoliation.
These toners help clear pores in dry skin types:
The best way to decrease sebum to shrink the sebaceous glad size and pore size is to take an oral retinoid like Accutane or a pill to block the effects of testosterone such as spironolactone. These are the most effective way and fasted method to get rid of pores. In fact, Accutane can shrink pores permanently- or at least for a few years. However, oral medications have side effects so I prefer treating my patients with topical prescription medications. Topical cosmetic products claim to decrease sebum production, but most of them just absorb or hide the sebum by covering it with dimethicone. Luckily there is a relatively new prescription medication called Winlevi (clascoterone) that is like a topical spironolactone, It blocks testosterone in the skin which reduces sebum production. It is FDA approved for acne but I use it in my patients to shrink pores. In combination with a retinoid like retinol- it is phenomenal. You can find a medical provider near you at this link to get a prescription for Winlevi.
If you want to start a retinol, read here about which retinol is best for beginners. You need to start with a low strength and work your way up. Here are some low strength retinols:
In addition to the tips above, there are some tools available for at-home use that can temporarily shrink the appearance of pores:
Consistency is key when using these tools for ongoing pore reduction. Temporary tightening effects require repeated use for maintained results. As always, consult a dermatologist if you have concerns about your pore health and appearance.
If you cannot go to a professional medical aesthetician for extractions, here are some pore cleaner devices that you can use at home.
Botulinum toxins have been used to treat oily skin and some reports have observed that these treatments function as a pore minimizer by shrinking oil glands. These neurotoxins are not FDA approved for use in oily skin or to shrink pores but you can find many studies in teh scientific literature. (3,4,5,6)
Chemical peels remove dead skin cells and stimulate new collagen growth to tighten the look of pores. The same effect can be achieved using high strength alpha hydroxyacid (AHA) toners, serums and moisturizers.
Injectable dermal fillers fill in indentations and plump the skin around pores to minimize pore openings. (6,7,8)
How Skinvive (hyaluronic acid) injections can help shrink the appearance of pores:
Skinvive is an injectable moisturizer composed of hyaluronic acid (HA). When injected into the skin, it provides pore reduction through the following mechanisms:
The hydrating and volumizing effects of Skinvive are seen immediately upon injection. Mild collagen stimulation provides gradual tightening over several months. HA fillers are eventually broken down by the body but results can last 6-12 months.
By adding hydration, fill, and gentle collagen induction to the skin, Skinvive smoothes over indented pores, allowing them to become less visible. The oft-used analogy is applying a painter's putty or spackle to fill in dents or holes in the wall - the same concept applies to filling pore spaces.
How Sculptra injections can help make pores appear smaller:
Sculptra is an injectable dermal filler made of poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA). It works through biostimulation - gradually stimulating collagen production over time.
When injected into the deep dermis, the PLLA microparticles cause a low-grade inflammation that triggers fibroblast activity. Fibroblasts are cells that produce collagen and other extracellular matrix components.
Over the course of several months after injection, fibroblasts stimulated by Sculptra will regenerate new collagen fibers as well as thicken existing collagen strands in the treated area.
This increase in dermal collagen provides enhanced support to the surrounding tissue. With more robust collagen scaffolding, the skin becomes firmer and pores become less visible.
Essentially, Sculptra injections help make pores appear smaller by:
The PLLA itself is eventually broken down and eliminated by the body. But results from the new collagen production stimulated by Sculptra can last up to 2 years. Treatments are typically spaced out over a few months for optimal collagen regeneration.
Hydrafacial is a popular non-invasive facial that can help minimize the appearance of enlarged pores. This multistep treatment uses a device with a vacuum tip that suctions away impurities while simultaneously bathing the skin with hydrating serums.
The hydrafacial device contains a spiral tip with multiple edges that gently exfoliate the surface layers of skin. As the device glides over the face, the suction simultaneously extracts dirt, oil and dead skin cells from pores.
After this vacuuming of debris to de-clog pores, the device painlessly micro-punctures the skin with peptide-filled serums. These serums provide hydration and nourishment.
By deeply cleansing pores and infusing moisture, hydrafacial reduces any visible pore stretching caused by congestion and dehydration. The treatment finishes with LED light therapy to further boost collagen.
Hydrafacials instantly improve pore appearance by removing pore-clogging debris. A series of monthly treatments helps maintain clean, hydrated skin for minimized pore visibility. The treatment is safe for most skin types.
An IPL photofacial is a non-invasive aesthetic procedure that uses bright pulses of light to improve skin concerns like large pores, pigmentation, and wrinkles.
During an IPL treatment, a handheld device is placed against the skin. The device emits rapid, high-energy light flashes targeting brown and red pigments.
The inflammation triggers tissue repair and regeneration. With repeated treatments, collagen regenerates, skin tightens, and pore appearance improves.
Photofacials use light rather than lasers. They offer a gentler treatment with minimal downtime for issues like sun damage, enlarged pores, and redness.
IPL shows optimal results after a series of 4-6 sessions done 3-4 weeks apart. Maintenance yearly or biyearly helps sustain results. Photofacials can be used safely on lighter skin types but can cause hyperpigmentation in darker skin types.
Lasers like CO2 lasers can improve skin texture and rebuild collagen but don't shrink the deepest part of the pore itself. In some cases laser resurfacing can actually make pores look bigger. This is why Fraxel lasers are a better option than the classic CO2 laser.
VBeam or Pulsed Dye Lasers, also called vascular lasers, use heat to stimulate collagen regeneration around pores leading to tightening and shrinking.
Microneedling is a treatment that uses small needles to create microscopic punctures in the skin. This stimulates wound healing and new collagen production. During a microneedling session, a device with fine needle tips is moved over the skin, penetrating the upper layers of the epidermis. This causes minor controlled skin injury. The micro-injuries trigger the body to produce new collagen and elastin as part of the healing response. Over 4-6 weeks following the treatment, collagen regeneration occurs. The new collagen fibers strengthen and tighten the skin surrounding pores. This collagen remodeling effectively shrinks the pore openings. Multiple microneedling sessions allow for significant collagen induction, leading to skin tightening and reduction of pore size over time. The perforations also allow penetration of skincare products. Overall, the microneedling process creates new collagen that firms up the skin and minimizes the visible openings of enlarged pores.
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma. It is an autologous concentration of platelets extracted from the patient's own blood. To obtain PRP, a blood sample is drawn and spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from other blood components.
Platelets contain growth factors and other bioactive proteins that promote tissue regeneration. When PRP is injected back into the skin, these growth factors stimulate collagen production and new cell growth.
For pore reduction, PRP is injected into the dermis surrounding enlarged pores. The growth factors induce collagen regeneration and tightening of the skin over a period of weeks. As new collagen matrices form, they provide structural support to compress and minimize the pore openings.
Repeated PRP treatments reinforce this collagen stimulation. The procedure is minimally invasive with little downtime. Many patients see gradual improvement in pore appearance after a series of 3-4 PRP treatments done monthly.
The benefits occur because the concentrated growth factors in PRP boost natural collagen renewal. This strengthens the skin tissue and effectively shrinks the size of stretched out pores for a smoother, tighter look. PRP therapy harnesses the body's own regenerative healing mechanisms for pore reduction.
This topical serum works similarly to PRP. It has platelet-derived exosomes that help minimize the appearance of pores.
The structure of a facial pore consists of:
Preventing sagging, dilated large pores is important. Here are some tips to keep your pores small:
Pores do not actually open and close like doors. They do not have muscles or mechanisms to allow the opening to expand and contract. However, pores can appear to open and close as the surrounding skin changes shape.
Several factors influence the visible size of pore openings:
While the pore canal itself remains fixed in size, the visible opening at the surface can seem to change in size based on these factors. Proper skin care helps optimize pore appearance by managing oil production, hydration, and dead skin buildup. But the pore openings remain open at all times for necessary functions.
Pores are essential openings that allow communication between the deeper layers of the skin and the surface. Permanently closing pores would disrupt normal skin function. There are a few key reasons pores must remain open:
Forcing pores closed against their nature could seriously disrupt normal integumentary system processes.
While a large pore size can be an aesthetic concern, pores work hard to maintain healthy skin function. They can be minimized through proper skin care but not totally eliminated. Even lasers do not completely remove pores.
Get started on the right skin care products for your skin type now! Shop using your Baumann Skin Type.
HA temporarily shrinks pores by hydrating the skin which causes the pores walls to swell and temporarily look smaller.
Pores expand and shrink in size when their surrounding walls gain and lose volume due to hydration.
Pores have an important role of allowing sebum that is produced by the sebaceous gland to exit onto the skin's surface. They need to be able to dilate and shrink. Even if you could shrink pores permanently, it would not be healthy for your skin.
Pores are opened by increased sebum production with is partially controlled by testosterone and other hormones, dead skin cells, oil and debris that clog the pores, and heat.
Loss of collagen in the pore walls makes them weak. Loss of elastin makes the skin sag. When skin ages it loses both collagen and elastin so sagging pores are seen in aging skin.
Use skincare products with retinoids and salicylic acid, skin tightening treatments like Ulthera, and the new injectable moisturizer SkinVive. Splashing cold water also helps.
Use a salicylic acid toner after cleansing with warm water. Then splash cold water on your face. This will help temporarily close pores.