Reducing pores, can it be done dermatologically?

We see and read in the magazines, television and social media various skin care products that promise us smaller skin pores. In fact, pore-free skin. But can a peeling, serum, pore strip, masks and cleansers really shrink your pores?

You can already feel it: skin care products cannot shrink your pores to an invisible size. More importantly, you don’t want to ‘eliminate’ your pores at all, they play an essential role in maintaining the skin barrier and health of your skin.

The function of your pores: Pores are openings of hair follicles and pores contain their own sebaceous glands that produce sebum (also called sebum). Sebum provides protection for your skin, skin hydration and skin acidity. Disturbance of your sebum balance can lead to dry skin if it is too low and too much sebum can cause pimples.

Large pores are mainly a cosmetic problem

Your genes determine the size of your pores and it is sometimes a shock to see your large pores in a magnifying mirror. In itself, there is nothing dermatologically wrong with large pores. Cosmetically, on the other hand, the irregular pores can make the skin look unkempt and old. A practical problem is when make-up ends up in the enlarged pores and in a certain incidence of light the skin area looks, as it were, ‘cakey’ and flaky.

What are the causes of enlarged pores?

Possible causes of coarse facial pores are external and internal influences. Factors such as gender, genetic predisposition, aging, chronic exposure to ultraviolet light, comedogenic cosmetics (= cosmetics that close the pores and cause acne), acne. But also too much sebum secretion, also called seborrhoea, which causes pimples and blackheads, make-up residue, air pollution that ends up in the pores and clogs them, and finally dead skin cells that accumulate in the pores.

Women’s pores are significantly larger than men’s. In another study, which compared men and women, men had a higher number of visible skin pores and more blackheads. An interesting study is one that examined the relationship between ethnicity and enlarged pores. Facial skin pores were measured in 2585 women between the ages of 18 and 80 and of different ethnicities (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Brazilian and French women). Some interesting findings were found; Brazilians had 6 times more enlarged pores than Chinese. The association between age and large pores was seen more often in Indians and Brazilians, while in Japanese, Chinese and French women the amount of large pores in the face stabilized from the age of 50.

What dermatological tricks can affect your pores?

Some skincare ingredients can help you minimize your skin’s pores. Products containing retinol, salicylic acid, glycolic acid and fruit acids ensure that dead skin cells and excess sebum are removed.

Vitamin B3, also known as Niacinamide, can reduce sebum production, making the pores smaller and the skin less shiny. More about Niacinamide.

Treatment with laser is also a possibility. In addition to a skin rejuvenating effect, pores can shrink after laser treatment. Microdermabrasion is a method of removing the top dead layer of skin. It is a kind of mechanical peeling using fine crystals under vacuum pressure, which sandblasts the skin locally with the aim of shrinking the pores. Other methods include chemical peels and dermapen microneedling.


Moisturizers, creams, sunscreens and other skin care products should not seal the skin, be non-comedogenic and contain oils of a light consistency.

Choose mineral sunscreens (with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for broad ultraviolet A and B coverage), hyaluronic acid serum and light oils such as grapes, sunflower, almond, neem oil and CBD oil. But also shea butter, argan, safflower, rose hip and pomegranate oil are good.

Remove your make-up, air pollution particles and excess sebum daily by cleansing your skin with a mild cleanser to ‘open’ your pores.

About Francis Wu

“In my dermatology practice, people often ask me about skin-enhancing products. Because I want you as a user to be able to rely on the product you are applying, I have developed my own skincare line: Iconic-Elements. A complete skin care line that stands out because it works (evidence-based)!


Dong J, Lanoue J, Goldenberg G. Enlarged facial pores: an update on treatments. Cutis. 2016 Jul;98(1):33-6.

Lee SJ, Seok J, Jeong SY, et al. Facial Pores: Definition, Causes, and Treatment Options. Dermatol Surg. 2016 Mar;42(3):277-85.

Flament F, Francois G, Qiu H, et al. Facial skin pores: a multiethnic study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:85-93.

While you are here

The last menstrual period is also called menopause. Most women have their last menstrual period between the ages of forty and sixty; the average age is 51 years. In addition to physical complaints such as flushes and sweat attacks, skin changes can also take place. In the West, 75% of women suffer from menopausal symptoms. In Japan, on the other hand, only 10% of them have complaints. Foods such as soy and miso seem to play an important role in reducing menopausal symptoms. More about menopause and skin problems


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