Your Go-To Fixes For Enlarged Pores

Women of all ages complain of large, open pores, and like shoe addictions and well-tended house plants, pores only get bigger with age. Sigh.

But the thing is, pores are important, vital in fact.

“Pores are essentially hair follicle openings and serve as the escape route for perspiration and other body toxins,” explains HintMD partner and founder of Blackhawk Plastic Surgery and Med Spa, Dr. Stephen Ronan MD FACS.

Not only that, but they also allow sebum (the body’s natural oil) to be released onto the surface of your skin to keep it balanced, moisturized and healthy.

This system usually works like a well-oiled machine (no pun intended), but like all things in life, nothing is perfect and certain factors can get in the way, causing an over-production of sebum, which usually goes hand in hand with enlarged pores.

“Your pore size is often determined by genetics, but oily skin is also a major factor,” says Dr. Ronan.

“How so? Because oily skin causes oil and debris to settle around the pores, making them appear larger and the skin around them to thicken,” he adds.

“Also, as skin ages, cell renewal activity and collagen and elastin production decreases, thereby increasing the appearance of visible pores.”

Things like sun exposure and smoking (the same things that contribute to wrinkles and brown spots) degrade collagen and elasticity even further which causes pores to slacken and look visibly bigger over time. Not to mention that incorrectly extracting a pore yourself can damage it and enlarge it long-term.

So, what’s a girl to do about such problems? Well, it’s fairly simple. Empty pores are, of course, less visible than blocked ones, so reducing their contents will keep them as small as physically possible. Yes, that means NEVER going to bed in a full face of makeup and always maintaining a personally-prescribed beauty program that includes medical-grade skincare specifically curated for enlarged pores. Frequent trips to your doctor’s office wouldn’t go amiss, either.

Herein, some of our recommendations to ask your derm about…


“At Blackhawk, we often carry out the ZO Ossential Stimulator Peel Treatment on patients with enlarged pores,” explains Dr. Ronan.

“This is a unique combination of alpha and beta hydroxyl acids, designed to exfoliate the skin at a deeper level to unclog pores, exfoliate dead skin cells and promote cellular turnover.”

A consistent beauty program of non-ablative laser treatments such as Clear + Brilliant or Laser Genesis can also help to rebuild collagen and smooth lines, and regular HydraFacials are the perfect way to include skin exfoliation, extraction and intense topical therapy into your plan.


To carry on the good work at home, Dr. Ronan stresses the importance of a good cleansing, exfoliating and toning routine.

“The simple system of cleanse, exfoliate and tone works synergistically to normalize skin function and restore overall skin health,” he says. Here are a few, clinically-proven treatments to get the ball rolling…

1. SkinMedica Purifying Foaming Wash

With 2 percent salicylic acid, as well as tea tree leaf oil and witch hazel extract, this exfoliating cleanser not only helps to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, but it also works on acne spots for clearer, cleaner skin. Salicylic acid is a real go-to for pores and problematic skin because it has the ability to exfoliate inside the pore, helping it return to its normal shape and allowing for sebum to flow freely and efficiently.

2. Colorescience Mattifying Perfector SPF 20

As you know, oil-control is super-important in the quest for battling open pores, which is why we love this mattifying primer. Great worn as everyday, light makeup, and even better under your favorite foundation, it helps absorb excess oil and minimizes the appearance of both pores and blemishes. Ps: it also contains a broad-spectrum SPF 20 as well as that all-important salicylic acid.

3. ZO Skin Health Offects TE-Pads Acne Pore Treatment

Also containing 2 percent salicylic acid (clearly the sweet spot for pore and oil control), these dual action pads provide gentle exfoliation to unclog pores, decrease breakouts and regulate acne and irritation. Use one pad twice daily after cleansing for the ultimate in pore control.

4. PCA Skin R-OH Retinol Solutions Intensive Clarity Treatment: 0.5% Pure Retinol Night

We’re huge fans of retinol treatments in the HintMD office and firmly believe there’s a retinol out there to suit everyone. This gem ticks the boxes for aging, problematic skin by harnessing the power of slow-release, stabilized retinol, along with pore-cleansing salicylic acid (2 percent, of course). Skincare that does the business while we sleep? High fives.

5. SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque

Bargain clay masks often suck all of the moisture out of your skin, leaving you with a parched complexion that has to produce even more sebum to overcompensate. Bad news for pores. This clinically-proven, non-drying mask, however, uses natural earth clays, kaolin and bentonite to decongest and lift impurities, combined with aloe and chamomile to calm, soothe and balance the skin.

Written by: Georgia Gould