Regardless of age or climate, all skin types can be afflicted with particularly visible pores. Some causes of pore enlargement include hereditary factors, pollution, exposure to sun, bad eating habits (consumption of sugar and fat), smoking (which increases sebum secretion), and poor skin hygiene. The accumulation of sebum and impurities around the edges of pores makes them more conspicuous. And improper exfoliation of skin cells lets pores get plugged up. As sebum is produced by the skin's oil glands, it cannot reach the surface and starts accumulating inside the pore, expanding its diameter. Dead skin cells, oils, and bacteria pool in this follicular opening, often leading to the formation of blackheads (medically termed "open comedones") owing to oxygenation.

So now you know the science behind an outsized pore, but why are some skin types more porously prone than others? Oily skin tends to attract larger-looking pores and magnify their presence on the face. Aging thickens skin and causes the rims of cells to collect around single pores, making them appear bigger than they actually are. Aging also leads to collagen loss, which in turn, affects pore tightness and can create a depression in the skin known as a collapsed pore. Unfortunately, once a pore has widened, there is no permanent way to restore its original size. The best you can do for your skin is to borrow some of the below tips for minimizing the conspicuousness of a portly pore.

If expense is not an issue, there are plenty of procedures that address enlarged pores. Perhaps the least enjoyable- yet most valuable- step in a spa facial is extraction, during which the esthetician excavates obstinate blackheads. One of the most popular professional treatments for achieving a youthful complexion with petite pores is microdermabrasion. This procedure works by peeling off the outermost layer of skin, abrading the blackheads off, and using suction to effectively pull out the remaining dirt and hardened oil from the pores. When the trapped oil reaches the surface, the pores return to their natural shape since there's nothing inside to enlarge them. As an added bonus, it stimulates collagen production and increases elasticity, which is essential for keeping pores tight. Besides microdermabrasion, salon treatments like laser resurfacing and light chemical peels can strip pores of debris and tighten them.

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A thorough cleansing regimen is critical for doing right by your pores. Stick to natural soaps and cleansing gels, especially those with bacteria-busting agents like azelaic acid. Steaming your skin (by draping a towel over your head while positioning your face over a bowl of steaming water for fifteen minutes) opens up the pores and clears out clogging residue. Exfoliating cleansers that incorporate an active amount of salicylic acid typically reduce pore size, scrub away dead skin cells, and extract dulling toxins. Salicylic is classified as a beta hydroxy acid, a natural acid derived from willow bark, sweet birch bark, and wintergreen leaves. It is a clogged pore's worst nightmare.

Alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic, lactic, and citric,  help disintegrate the "glue" that holds dead cells inside the pore. Even though their water-soluble nature prevents them from penetrating deep through the epidermis to remove debris (like oil-soluble salicylic acid), alpha hydroxy acids are proven to unblock pores. The face version of Juice Beauty Green Apply Body Peel can both refine pores and improve skin texture through its combination of raw cane sugar (glycolic acid), white willow bark extract (beta hydroxy acid), organic milk peptides (lactic acid), and organic apple, lemon, and grape juices (antioxidants). Chella's Exfoliating mask is another excellent choice since it adds in botanical extracts and enzymes.

Clogged pores can be relieved by an oil-absorbing mask made from bentonite clay (in Astara Flame Purification Mask), red Moroccan clay, or rhassoul clay (in Kaeline Rhassoul Clay Mask). These clays deeply penetrate to extract the excess dermal waste from your pores, though some clay-based masks may be too potent for sensitive skin. Topical products touting the antioxidants vitamin A or C are known to tighten the skin for a smoother appearance and less visible pores. In particular, retinol (an OTC form of vitamin A) helps loosen the plug of blackheads and chemically "peel" the rim of the pore. Again, sensitive skin might encounter flaking or irritation.

Aside from the many procedures and products to prevent your pores from taking on their own zip code, you really don't need to spend a dime. Your own kitchen is probably stocked with everything you need for pure porefection. Try concocting a face scrub out of sugar, which can smooth fine lines, exfoliate dead cells, and shrink pores with its natural alpha hydroxy acids. It is said that plain milk of magnesia is an effective treatment for absorbing excess skin oil. Our DIY natural face lift, based on egg whites, has an instant shrinking effect on pores. Egg whites also make an appearance in our papaya fruit face mask, which confers the added benefits of softening skin and brightening pigmentation.

What not to do in your crusade against super-pores: pick at your face. Squeezing your pores to draw out impurities can do long-term damage, impairing their ability to return to their normal size. Of course, makeup can be a culprit as well. Wearing heavy foundation may cover up noticeable pores momentarily, but it can also lead to clogging and further enlargement. These should be no-brainers.

Though it may sound counter-intuitive, you should keep a distance from products with harsh alcohols, acids, or peroxides. Drying astringents and toners deceive your skin with their temporary tightening effect, which causes the capillaries to dilate and the tiny muscles of the pores to constrict. Tight pores may appear smaller in the short run; however, this moisture-sapping action actually encourages your natural oil glands to over-produce sebum, ultimately expanding pore size. Gentle, natural astringents like witch hazel and rosewater are better choices. You can find healthy skin-toning components in each of our Five Best facial cleansers.

Pores are not the enemy. However unaesthetic they may appear at times, pores play a vital role in skin physiology. Without these tiny openings, the sebum that keeps skin pH-balanced and healthy would have no way of reaching the surface. When pores get out of control, all you need to do is target the key factors that heighten their visibility: unplug debris, wipe out bacteria, eliminate excess oil, blast away blackheads, smooth the edges, and seal the pores closed. If you strategically combine some of the above solutions, your overly ambitious pores won't stand a chance.

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