Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/28/2021
Your face gets noticed — it’s a fact of life. And whether it’s acne or wrinkles, any shift can feel like cause for concern or a sign that we need to change our skin care routine.
So what about enlarged pores? Should you be worried about them? Do they need to be treated?
Read on to learn more about pores — including what causes large pores on your face and how to minimize their appearance if you choose.
Interestingly enough, what we tend to think of as pores in our skin could be a misnomer. True pores are the sweat glands and sebaceous glands that serve to keep us cool and our skin moisturized, respectively.
They can’t be seen by the naked eye and need to be viewed under a microscope for visibility.
When we talk about facial pores however, we’re actually talking about indentations in the skin that contain many of those aforementioned glands.
Think of it this way, a “pore” usually refers to a hole that secretes or intakes a substance, like when the glands in your skin secrete sweat or oil.
Any substance that you’ve had secreted from the indentations on your face, as you may notice with a pimple for instance, is being released from the many true pores within.
For simplicity, we’ll stick with the misnomer and use “pore” to refer to the holes we may notice on our faces when we look in the mirror.
According to the Dermatologic Surgery journal, the main causes of enlarged pores include:
Excessive sebum production, referring to oily skin caused by the natural production of sebum
Decreased skin elasticity, typically caused by sun damage or aging
Production of thick hair from the follicles
Other causes of larger pores include a history of chronic acne, skin care regimen, and sex hormones.
First things first, larger pore sizes are not a sign of unhealthy skin. Therefore, seeking treatment is an entirely personal choice.
Some individuals with large pores on the face may dislike the appearance of them and decide to explore options for reducing their visibility, while others may decide to let them be. Both choices are entirely valid.
The treatments for enlarged pores are targeted at treating the cause of the pore appearing larger, like reducing sebum production. Let’s jump into the options available to you.
Retinoids are a class of medication derived from vitamin A and are useful for a variety of skin concerns from reducing the effects of aging to minimizing the appearance of stretch marks.
For the purpose of addressing enlarged pores, retinoids are great for people whose pores appear larger due to acne, oily skin or a lack of firmness in the skin. They work by increasing collagen production and cell turnover.
Retinoids come in a variety of strengths, including as a prescription in the form of tretinoin. Hers’ Anti-Aging Cream uses retinoids as a key ingredient to address the effects of aging.
As a preventative method for discouraging pores from enlarging due to sun damage, you should wear a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with 30 SPF or more to support your skin health.
The effects of sun exposure appear over time on all skin types, so it is never too early to start protecting your skin from the effects of photodamage.
Clogged pores can lead to your pores appearing larger, so you’ll want to be sure to select non-comedogenic skin care products, which contain ingredients that won’t clog your pores.
It is also good to look for products that are oil-free so that you don’t pile on top of the oil naturally produced by your skin.
Face washing can help prevent two of the main causes of highly visible pores: oily skin and clogged pores. It’s also great for washing off the grime from the day and ensuring your skin is makeup-free when you head to bed for the night.
You’ll want to wash your face with a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser and warm water. The goal is to keep your skin as calm as possible, since pores can appear larger on irritated skin.
Sagging skin can lead to more visible pores, so you may want to consult with your healthcare provider to learn about skin tightening procedures.
To be proactive about delaying the effects of aging, anti-aging products can also be a good choice.
Chemical peels like salicylic acid may be a good choice for helping to clear away dead skin cells, with the added benefit of reducing sebum production.
You’ll find salicylic acid to be a common ingredient in acne treatment products, making it a good choice if your enlarged pores are a result of acne or oily skin.
The treatment of enlarged pores is up to you, but you’ll want to consult with a healthcare professional to help determine what might be causing your pores to appear larger. You can then decide on an appropriate treatment.
It’s helpful to use products designed to work together to avoid potential irritation. (For example, you won’t want to double up on peels.)
It’s also a good idea to try products customized for your skin’s needs.
Overall, keeping your skin clean and protected from the sun will be a great start to helping your skin look its best now and in the future.