Large pores are one of the most common skincare concerns that affect many of us in Southeast Asia.
It doesn’t help that there have also been a lot of misconceptions about pore management. Opinions on whether it is even possible to reduce the size of pores, whether pores can really “open” and “close”, and whether pore-reducing products work have been split.
If knowing how to minimise pores has been one of the biggest skincare woes for you, we hope that this guide that we’ve put together can finally put some of your questions to rest.
Read on to find answers to pore-related queries you’ve always had, 11 methods that actually help minimise pores, and products that can help.
Why do some of us suffer from “large pores”?
Before we even get to the question of how to minimise pores, we have to first understand why we get large pores.
Let’s get this straight: the size of our pores is determined by our genes. In other words, it’s not possible for them to become larger or smaller.
However, there are several factors that may make them appear larger.
In case you find the above confusing, let’s try an analogy. While your body has a fixed size, many factors can change the way it looks now and later. For example, if you had too much sodium the night before, it may puff up due to water retention. And if you’re wearing a super flattering dress, that’ll make it look more slender.
It’s the same with your pores’ appearance.
Some of the factors that can make your pores look larger include:
- Clogging: Our skin naturally produce sebum and shed skin cells. If these aren’t removed, they can accumulate within the pores and harden overtime, causing a clog. As these materials build up, your pores are stretched, making them look larger – up to five times!
- Loss of skin elasticity: As we age, our skin loses collagen and becomes less elastic over time. As the skin goes from taut to slack, our pores may appear larger than before.
- Makeup: Badly chosen makeup or poor makeup techniques can emphasise the appearance of our pores, making them more obvious visibly.
Do your pores look bigger because they’re “open”?
You may have often heard about how warm water or steam “opens” up your pores while cold water “closes” them.
This is a myth. Pores aren’t made of muscles so they can’t expand and contract.
However, there is a reason why some people believe pores can open and close.
Hot water and steam help to loosen up the debris lodged with your pores so that they can be extracted more easily. This is why your beautician may steam your face or lay a hot towel over it before they do an extraction during your facial treatment.
On the other hand, cold water constrict your blood vessels, making your pores appear smaller – however, this is a very temporary occurrence; your pores don’t stay small once your skin warms up again.
Does this mean we can’t minimise pore size?
If you’ve been reading carefully from the start of the article till now, you may start feeling discouraged. Does it mean there’s no point finding out how to minimise pores because our pore size doesn’t ever change?
The good news is that while its actual size remains the same, it is possible to make your pores appear smaller.
How to minimise pores: 11 science-backed methods that work
Those who are responsible for household chores would know this: it’s always easier to do some cleaning regularly than to wait till an annual spring cleaning. Similarly, adopting good cleansing habits on a daily basis makes sure that our pores remain clean to prevent clogging from happening.
A proper cleansing routine should involve two cleansing steps: start with a cleansing oil, which is effective in getting rid of excess sebum, followed by a water-based cleanser to get all other impurities eliminated.
Remember our pores look bigger when they’re clogged with hardened sebum and dead skin cells? Regular exfoliation can help to clear dead skin cells to make sure they don’t accumulate and clog up your pores.
To find out what type of exfoliator is suitable for you, check out our beginners’ guide to exfoliation.
There are many reasons why you shouldn’t be touching your face and one of the reasons is because it can lead to inflammation that make your skin look red, feel painful, become pus-filled.
If you already have clogged pores, avoid picking at it or trying to squeeze out the clog yourself. Because you aren’t trained with the right techniques, chances are you’re going to leave a blemish behind or even cause a scar to appear.
And this runs contrary to your plans if you’re figuring out how to minimise pores; wounded skin can make your pores look larger and redness draw attention to them.
If acne and large pores are a concern, dermatologists may prescribe a retinoid cream.
A retinoid cream boosts skin cell turnover so you’re likely to see your pores appear smaller within a few weeks.
However, clinic-grade retinoid creams are only available through a doctor’s prescription after a consultation.
If you’re not ready to go for a doctor’s consultation, here’s an over-the-counter product you can consider instead: clay masks.
Clay masks work by drawing out sebum and other impurities to unclog pores, making your pores look smaller as a result.
Avoid oil-based products other than oil cleansers
If you’re prone to excess oil production and clogged pores, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from heavy oils and oil-based products.
The oils from these products can mix with your dead skin cells and further clog up your pores.
The only exception? Oil cleansers.
The reason is because oil cleansers are great at helping to dissolve facial sebum so they’re actually are an excellent choice if you want to get rid of excess sebum from your skin.
For other products, look to water-based formulas instead.
Anti-ageing skincare routine
Slackened skin can make your pores larger than they actually are. So even if you feel that you’re too “young” to start an anti-ageing routine, perhaps you can consider it some basic anti-ageing products if you’re above 25.
UV damage breaks down collagen and elastin in our skin, causing it to sag.
However, note that some sunscreens can make our skin look shiny, accentuating the appearance of our pores. So as much as possible, try to go for formulas that are shine-free, non-oily, or with matte finishes.
Avoid shimmery makeup
Just like how you may avoid certain clothes that don’t flatter your body shape, avoid shimmery makeup if you’re conscious about your pore size.
Shimmery makeup brings light, accentuating them in the process. What this means is that if you’ve applied it on areas that have visible pores, you’re going to make them look even more obvious.
But if you absolutely love shimmery makeup and aren’t ready to give it up yet, apply it only on areas that have visibly smaller pores, such as your eyelids or the bridge of your nose.
Dump makeup that accentuate pores
You probably know which ones they are – that foundation that makes your pores look more obvious or that powder that settles within your pores, drawing attention to them.
No matter how much you love them, if your priority is to minimise the appearance of your pores, say goodbye to them for good.
Be smart about touch-up
While it’s easier to pile on more makeup when it starts fading, putting on more layers of makeup can make your pores more obvious.
Instead, consider bringing along makeup wipes to clean off affected areas and apply makeup onto bare skin instead.
Best pore-minimising products to try
Products that help with minimising pores usually contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), glycolic acid, and retinol. Here are a few of different prices that you can consider.
Caolion Pore Deep Toner
A toner for pore care that you can use every day, this contains refreshing pear water and detoxifying charcoal, which is known as an effective ingredient that draws out impurities.
The Korean brand has made their products safe for sensitive skin, so you can use it without worry of irritation.
Retails for S$45. Check the link below for latest promotions.
Somebymi AHA-BHA-PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner
Great online reviews
A cult-favourite brand among those who suffer from acne-prone skin, blackheads and clogged pores, Somebymi’s toner contains AHA, BHA, and PHA to help gently remove dead skin cells.
Simply soak the toner with a cotton pad and gently wipe across your skin to achieve a gentle exfoliation.
Retails for S$45 for a bundle of two. The brand is offering a generous discount at the time of writing. Click on the link to see latest price.
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
This concentrated formula contains 7% solution of Glycolic Acid so you know it’s the real deal.
Use this as a gentle exfoliant that can help restore clarity, balanced pH levels, and improve uneven textures on the skin. It’ll also keep your pores clean and healthy.
Retails for S$12.50. Click on the link to check for promotions.
Remescar Instant Facial Pore Reducer
A facial cream that contains a complex of optical microspheres that help blur imperfection, this helps your pores appear smaller in an instant.
Note that this doesn’t “treat” the condition by unclogging pores or improving elasticity of skin, but can help your pores appear visibly smaller and should be worn as a primer under your makeup.
Retails for S$56. Check the link for promotions.
Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask To Clear Pores
Formulated with Activated Charcoal and White China Clay, this creamy mask removes dirt and oil to help prevent breakouts and clogged pores.
You’ll love the refreshing sensation you get after removing it and the radiance that you’ll see instantly.
Retails for S$39.
Pink by Pure Bye Bye Pores Peeling
Made in Korea with Jeju Volcanic Ash, Thermal Spring Water, and Activated carbon, these two-sided peeling pads help exfoliate and cleanse your skin of dead skin cells and excess sebum.
You’ll love the soothing sensation it leaves on your skin and how it refines your pores gently.
Retails for S$17.90. Check the link for promotions.
Medik8 Pore Cleanse Gel Intense
This daily cleanser deeply cleanse and purify your skin. It helps remove impurities that clog your pores and contains a blend of AHA to promote a smoother skin texture.
This is ideal for those with oily, combination, and acne-prone skin.
Retails for S$38. Check the link for latest promotions.
Olehenriksen Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub
This facial scrub is inspired by traditional Scandinavian spas where there are warm and cool therapies to help achieve skincare benefits.
It has a dual warm-and-cool action, as well as a powerful blend of AHA to refine pores.
Containing purifying ingredients to absorb excess sebum from the skin, this scrub unclogs your pores too.
You’ll also love the refreshing eucalyptus and peppermint scent it comes with!
Retails for S$44. Click on the link to check for promotions.
Hada Labo AHA BHA Mild Exfoliate Oil Control Face Wash
This daily cleanser offers a gentle exfoliation to purify skin while protecting it against pollutants.
It helps remove blackheads and other impurities that clog pores so your pores can remain clean and healthy.
Retails for S$13.50. Click on the links to compare prices.