Large pores are an increasingly common skin concern, but you’ll be glad to know they’re perfectly normal. Excess oil, sun damage, and skin aging all contribute to enlarge the appearance of pores, but there’s nothing inherently harmful about that–large or small, looking a little more open or a little more closed, your pores are still healthy and doing their job.
Still, you may not like the way they look. If you’d like to reduce the appearance of dilated pores, know that you’re in for a bit for a fight. It’s not going to be easy, but we’ll guide you through with our best tips.
On this post:
- What are large pores?
- What causes large pores?
- Can large pores be reduced?
- Products to help you deal with large pores
What are large pores?
Large pores are perfectly normal pores that look a little enlarged, dilated, or “open”. Some people have naturally larger pores, but there are also events that, over a lifetime, can increase the appearance of pore size: excess oil and sebum production, sun damage, skin aging, among others.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that large pores are normal (not at all harmful or unhealthy), and some people are just born with them. You may have large pores by design, and that’s just the way it is: for you, they’re just pores!
Conversely, you may not have been born with dilated pores, but you may have noticed that they’re suddenly more apparent, as if they’ve expanded specifically to haunt you from your magnifying mirror. (Here’s a really good tip: stop using magnifying mirrors. Seriously.)
What large pores are *not*
Large pores may look like blackheads or sebacous filaments, but there are subtle differences:
- Large pores look like little pinpricks. They look like tiny holes in the skin, evenly spaced, and although they may look “open”, they won’t necessarily have anything inside them;
- Blackheads are, essentially, clogged pores. They look like little raised bumps (not holes!), and they tend to be dark or black in color. They are extremely common, especially around the nose, chin, and cheeks;
- Sebaceous filaments are little “threads” that exist inside your pores. They look like tiny little white or yellow-ish “hairs” coming out of an open pore. Their role is to guide the flow or oil and sebum along the inside of the pore, all the way to the surface of the skin. Sebaceous filaments are a normal feature, and they are particularly visible around the nose, chin, and cheeks. If you find a large pore with some mysterious white stuff inside, that’s probably a sebaceous filament. Dermatologists suggest leaving it alone!
Is it normal to have large pores?
Yes, large pores are completely normal, and do not carry any associated risk. While some people have naturally larger pores than others, other people can have larger pores due to a variety of events that arise throughout life (such as excess sebum production or skin aging). Even in the latter case, having enlarged pores is not dangerous, and ends up being a purely aesthetic concern.
And just in case someone tries to tell you large pores are a bad thing: they’re really not. They’re a perfectly natural skin feature, and it’s up to you to decide if you want to fix them or not.
What causes large pores?
There are several causes for enlarged pores. A 2016 study summarized the top 3 causes of enlarged pores as excessive sebum, decreased elasticity around pores (associated with skin aging and photoaging), and increased hair follicle volume. According to this study, “chronic recurrent acne, sex hormones, and skin care regimen” can also affect pore size. Enlarged pores may also appear in association with skin conditions like rosacea.
Considering that there are so many different reasons that can cause enlarged pores, it’s important to know exactly what causes yours so you can try to resolve the situation. Dilated pores are not necessarily treatable in every situation, but targeting their specific cause will always be key to achieving the best results.
Can large pores be reduced?
Studies show that professional treatments can be effective in reducing large pores, depending on their root cause. For enlarged pores associated with excess sebum, photodynamic therapies, diode laser devices, and nonablative radio-frequency (RF) devices may be effective in reducing excess sebum and, consequently, reducing the appearance of pores. Botox may also be effective. As for enlarged pores pores associated with skin aging, professional laser treatments can be effective for reducing pores and rejuvenating the appearance of the skin.
Medication can be particularly effective when targeting dilated pores associated with excess sebum. Oral retinoids and hormonal therapies are effective in reducing excess sebum, which in turn can reduce the appearance of enlarged pores.
Now to the topical products: topical retinoids and niacinamide may be effective in reducing enlarged pores. Chemical peels may also be effective. Sun protection, of course, is an essential add-on when using these types of products.
Products that’ll help you deal with large pores
We have already mentioned that the application of topical products can help reduce enlarged pores. However, it is important to adjust expectations here: the results of a prescription-strength retinoid (recommended to you by a doctor, of course) will never be the same as the results of an over-the-counter skincare product. Still, there are skincare products that our Care to Beauty community has found effective in the fight against dilated pores. Let’s go through them:
One of the most popular products in our Care to Beauty community is the Esthederm Pure System Pore Refiner Concentrate, a face cream with a powerful mattifying and sebum-regulating action.
Another product we love to recommend for dilated pores is the SVR Sebiaclear Micro-Peel Smoothing Renewal Water, a treatment essence designed to unclog pores, improve the skin texture, and help reduce inflammation.
Finally, we like the Caudalie Vinergetic C+ Instant Detox Mask, a pink clay mask that absorbs excess sebum and reduces the appearance of dilated pores. It’s a good option for all skin types, for anyone who wants a little occasional help with their pores.
None of the previous products had retinoids, but it’s time we bring that star ingredient to the stage. Here are two retinol serums you may want to know about:
The CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is a serum that combines encapsulated retinol, licorice root extract, and niacinamide in a comprehensive action that aims to improve skin texture and minimize the appearance of dilated pores.
The SVR Ampoule [A] Lift Smoothing Concentrate is more focused on reducing signs of aging. With a combination of 0.1% pure concentrated retinol and 0.2% pure encapsulated retinol, it helps retexturize the skin, minimizing issues such as enlarged pores, fine lines, and wrinkles.
If you’d like to try your hand at disguising enlarged pores through makeup, we’ve got a couple of tips for you. According to our resident make-up artist, large pores and uneven skin texture can be a little hard to disguise with makeup, but there are still some things you can try right before, and right after your regular makeup routine.
The first thing you need to do is start your makeup routine with a blurring primer. Our community loves the Makeup Revolution Pore Blur Primer and the Catrice The Perfector Poreless Blur Primer.
Once you’re done applying your makeup, apply a mattifying powder. This will help you avoid reflections that may draw attention to the uneven texture of the skin. You won’t be hiding any dilated pores, not really, you’ll be masking them through this little trick of light.
When choosing your powder, go for something fine and matte. That’s a big thing to keep in mind: matte powders will work in your favor here, while sparkly blushes, bronzers, and highlighters may bring out the irregular texture even more. Also, don’t use a lot of product, as excess product can bring out the uneven texture.
And here’s a final tip: as you apply your full face of makeup, make sure to apply each product in a very thin layer. You don’t need to apply a ton of foundation!
As we have seen, large pores can appear for a variety of reasons and causes, but they are considered perfectly normal skin features. If you want to reduce your enlarged pores, you have several treatment options at your disposal, from professional skin treatments (which will always be more effective) to at-home skincare products (whose results may vary). You can explore all the options of skincare products for large pores in the shop and find the one that suits you best!
Beauty Writer & Editor