Why Are My Pores Big? 5 Factors That Come Into Play
Do you feel like your pores are the only thing standing between you and gorgeous skin? Large and visible pores are a common struggle, but they’re still frustrating to deal with.
Fortunately, you can build a skincare routine to help minimize the appearance of enlarged pores. The first step to minimizing your visible pores is to determine their cause. Here are some of the top reasons you may be experiencing enlarged pores.
What Are Enlarged Pores?
If you look closely at your skin, you may notice that some of your pores are larger than others. While some pores are almost invisible, others may be hard not to see. Some enlarged pores can even create dips in your skin’s texture.
Large pores are more likely to occur on your cheeks and nose because that’s where your skin produces the most oil. You might also find enlarged pores on your neck, back, chest and shoulders.
Your skin has two main types of pores: hair follicles and sweat glands. You are much more likely to see enlarged hair follicles than enlarged sweat glands.
The term “enlarged pores” might be a bit confusing since pores actually cannot open or close on their own. Some factors can force pores open and cause pores to appear larger, and some skincare products can cause pores to appear smaller, but your actual pore size can’t change.
5 Factors That Cause Large Pores
Before we can know how to address your overexcited pores, we must first know what’s behind their appearance. Here are some of the most common reasons your pores appear larger than normal.
1. Genetics and Age
Although everyone can experience large pores, certain ethnicities are more prone to them than others. Larger pores are more common in those with African or Indian ancestry due to genetics.
There is some debate on whether or not men and women experience different pore sizes, but science has shown that women’s pore sizes can fluctuate with their menstrual cycle. Women’s pores may appear particularly large during ovulation.
Another factor that can affect pore size is age. Older skin tends to lose elasticity and is, therefore, more susceptible to enlarged pores. On the other hand, teenagers tend to have oily skin that might make pores look larger.
2. Skin Type
There are four main skin types:
- Normal skin
- Dry skin
- Oily skin
- Combination skin
Although skin of any type can develop enlarged pores, oily skin is particularly susceptible to larger pores.
Overactive sebaceous glands characterize oily skin. These glands secrete sebum, an oil that is a natural part of your skin’s hydration system. However, overactive glands produce way too much sebum.
This excess sebum sits on top of the skin and causes an oily sheen and can eventually make its way down into the pores. If oil enters your pores, it can forcibly cause them to expand, creating the appearance of enlarged pores.
3. Skin Elasticity
Skin elasticity describes your skin’s ability to retain its shape and bounce back after stress. For instance, if you pinch the skin on the top of your hand and it immediately flattens after releasing it, you have high skin elasticity.
Skin elasticity involves several factors, but the number one contributors to elasticity are collagen and elastin. Collagen helps keep your skin hydrated and firm, and elastin keeps your skin stretchy.
If you have low skin elasticity, you may be more prone to enlarged pores. When your skin loses its ability to bounce back, then your pores may not be able to bounce back as well from blockages. Even if your pores are clear, they may still look larger than normal.
Skin elasticity often dwindles with age, so this may play a part in why older skin has a higher chance of developing larger pores. If this sounds like your skin issue, then increasing your collagen may help improve the appearance of your pores.
4. Sun Damage
Another factor that can affect skin elasticity is sun damage. Sun damage can cause the skin to lose collagen and dry out — both of which can enlarge the appearance of pores.
Sun damage can also make your skin feel less firm, which may also increase the size of your pores. We recommend limiting sun exposure and choosing the right SPF for your skin to avoid this.
5. Clogged Pores
One of the biggest causes of enlarged pores is clogged pores. No matter what your skin type is, your pores can clog up with dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria and excess oil. This buildup can often form a plug that will force your pores to expand.
While some clogged pores look like red irritation, others take the form of blackheads and whiteheads. Both of these blemishes are characterized by plugs of gunk right at the surface of the skin, which can often make the pore appear larger.
We recommend a skincare routine that focuses on exfoliating and lowering the sebum production from overactive oil glands to keep this to a minimum.
What Is the Best Skincare for Enlarged Pores?
Now that we know some of the main causes of enlarged pores, we’re ready to learn how to minimize them. Here are some of our tips on creating a pore-zapping skincare routine.
Up Your Cleansing Game
Since enlarged pores are often the product of excess oil, you may need to up your cleansing game. We recommend using a pore-clarifying cleanser in both your morning and evening routines to minimize the chance of oil clogging your pores.
We also recommend cleansing every time you sweat. Since summer heat is upon us, cleanse after jogging, working out or spending extra time out in the sun.
Exfoliate With Salicylic Acid
After cleansing, one of the best things you can do for your skin (and your pores) is to exfoliate. Exfoliating involves gently removing dead skin cell buildup, which can lower your risk for enlarged pores and brighten your complexion.
Depending on your skin's sensitivity, you can use either a chemical or mechanical exfoliator. One of our favorite chemical exfoliators is Salicylic Acid.
This Beta Hydroxy Acid gently exfoliates and helps dissolve stubborn pore gunk. It also slows down oil production to help curb pimples and breakouts. You can also combine this ingredient with popular Alpha Hydroxy Acids like Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid.
If you want one product that does the job of three, try our Clear Skin Cleansing Bar. This innovative bar uses Salicylic Acid, Eucalyptus Oil and Sulfur to cleanse and exfoliate. As a bonus, you can use it as a clarifying mask!
Retinoids for the Win
Retinoids can help your skin stay firm and supple by increasing blood flow and supporting your skin’s natural collagen production. They can also exfoliate away dead skin cells, support proper cell turnover and unclog stubborn pores.
While some Retinoids like Retinol are available in over-the-counter skincare products, stronger forms of Retinoid are available only by prescription. If you think you need a higher-strength Retinoid, we recommend contacting your dermatologist.
One of our favorite Retinol products is our Retinol Resurfacing Treatment Pads. These serum-soaked pads include Retinol, Lactic Acid and Niacinamide to gently resurface your skin and help reduce the appearance of pores.
Vitamin C is better known in the skincare world as L-Ascorbic Acid, and it has a few tricks up its sleeve to help you with your pore woes.
Vitamin C helps support your skin’s elasticity. As we learned earlier, elasticity plays a major role in your pore appearance.
We also mentioned that sun damage could affect the way your pores appear. Vitamin C contains powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and can help your skin fight off sun damage. While it’s no replacement for SPF, daily application of Vitamin C can provide an extra layer of protection.
We recommend our Super C Brightening Serum. This serum combines maximum strength Vitamin C with Salicylic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid to help hydrate and brighten your skin.
Lastly, it’s important to keep your skin hydrated. Hydrated skin bounces back easier and produces fewer dead skin cells, making your pores more likely to stay clear.
We recommend our ShineBlock™ Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30. This non-comedogenic moisturizer doubles as a broad-spectrum sunscreen that can protect your skin against sun damage.
Although pores do not open and close on their own, some factors such as age, skin type and clogged pores can cause them to appear larger than normal. While this can be undesirable to some, certain skincare products can lessen this effect.
To help minimize the appearance of pores, we recommend cleansing regularly, exfoliating and using skincare products that include ingredients such as Salicylic Acid, Retinoids and Vitamin C. Make sure to apply your daily SPF and check out our Glow-Up Guide for more skincare tips from our licensed aestheticians.