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Whether it is while you are brushing your teeth, applying makeup, or putting in your contacts, we stare at ourselves in the mirror and wonder about our pores. Why are my pores so big? Have my pores always been this big? What can I do to make my pores smaller? We, Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology, want to share our answers to the questions we’ve seen from our 30-plus years of experience.


What are Pores?

To put it simply, pores are openings in the skin. They are narrow at the bottom of the dermis layer, and wider at the epidermis layer. Pores allow sweat and oil to exit the glands onto the surface of your skin. Your epidermis is the top layer of your skin and is made up of dead skin cells. The layer below the epidermis is the dermis which consists of collagen and elastin protein fibers and hyaluronic acid. These proteins are what give your pores structure and support to keep them tight and narrow. The size of your pores is largely based on the amount and health of these collagen and elastin fibers, but the actual size of your pores is based on genetics. Since the size of your pores is based on genetics, there is little that can be done to decrease the actual size of your pores. However, there are things that you can do to actually stretch the size of your pores. You shouldn’t lose hope though, because there are many options for the size of them to appear smaller.


What Factors Influence the Size of My Pores?

Even though the size of your pores is based on genetics, there are other factors that can influence the apparent size of your pores.


  • Oil Production: Your pores are designed to allow for oil to be released by glands onto your skin. The more oil that your body produces, the larger your pores will be. The pores in the center of your face are not only more prominent, but they are also bigger to release more oil onto your skin.
  • Sex: Males have more sebaceous glands and oilier skin that make pores more visible.
  • Age: As you get older you lose collagen and elastin. When this happens, the structure of your pores loses their integrity allowing the pores to widen.
  • Hormonal Changes: When you begin puberty your sebaceous glands begin to produce more oil causing your pores to widen. Your pores will also change sizes during your menstrual cycle.
  • Sun Damage: Ultraviolet light breaks down collagen and elastin fibers causing a reduction in the firmness of your skin. This breakdown allows your pores to widen and grow larger.


How to Minimize the Size of My Pores?

Of the factors that influence the size of your pores, there is only one factor that you can have some control over; sun damage. To decrease the damage that ultraviolet light does to your pores, you should cover your skin or apply sunblock whenever you are in the sun. There are things that you can do to keep your dermis structured and tight so that the size of your pores is minimized.

  • Wash off all makeup: If you don’t wash off your makeup it will build up and become impacted inside the pores, causing them to stretch. Even though you wash your makeup off daily, you will also want to use a charcoal or clay mask once or twice a week. These masks will absorb oil and debris out of your pores as it dries, so when you wash off the mask, the oil and debris will be removed. To go a step further you will want to consider getting a facial that uses negative pressure to remove debris, dirt, and makeup.
  • Exfoliate: You will want to exfoliate once or twice a week to remove the top layers of dead skin. After exfoliating, your pores will seem smaller because there is less buildup and they are more shallow.
  • Use Retinol: Retinol boosts the collagen and elastin fibers in your dermis providing more structure to push your pores inward and appear tighter.
  • Treatments from Your Dermatologist: Your dermatologist can both prescribe medications and do in-office procedures to help reduce the size of your pores appearance. The prescription medications that your dermatologist might prescribe include stronger retinoids, than can be found over the counter, or an oral medication that can decrease oil production. The in-office procedures your dermatologist might recommend are microneedling, or one of many laser treatments (CO2 laser, profractional laser, halo laser). These procedures stimulate your collagen to add support and tighten your pores.


If you have questions about your enlarged pores, or are interested in talking with a professional about anything that you have read here, please contact us online or call us at 801-682-4715. We bring over 30 years of experience in surgical, general, and cosmetic dermatology.