Let’s get this straight: There’s no way to permanently shrink or change the size of our pores. These tiny openings on the surface of skin do dilate or stretch to release oil and sweat — usually more so when skin’s sebum production spikes, or when the weather is hot. But their size is mainly determined by genes, with factors like hormones, ageing and sun damage further contributing to how big they look.
Dr Melvin Tan, medical director of Epion Clinic, says: “For younger patients in their 20s to 30s, enlarged pores tend to be the result of several things, including overactive oil glands and the clogging of pores by dead skin cells and other surface debris, which encourage the pore openings to remain dilated.”
He adds: “In more mature skin, these issues may play a role too. But there is also the degeneration of skin quality due to ageing to consider, with skin being unable to hold pores as tightly close as before.”
Still, even though pore size is something you’re born with, there are steps you can take to make pores appear smaller or look less obvious.
Dr Tan says a good way is simply to keep them clear of dead skin cells and sebum by exfoliating regularly, preventing pore openings from becoming clogged. Exfoliation also stimulates collagen production and skin renewal, thereby plumping skin and making its texture look smoother and finer.
“Products and treatments that regulate oil production and exfoliate skin using ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and retinol are very effective in minimising the look of pores, especially for younger users. Regular deep cleansing facials and light acid peels help too,” he says.
“As skin matures, however, open pores are more like defects in the skin, similar to a scar. Achieving significant improvement often requires treatments such as laser rejuvenation or skin resurfacing.”