Large pores are an increasingly common skin concern, but you’ll be glad to know they’re perfectly normal. Excess oil, sun damage, and skin aging all contribute to enlarge the appearance of pores, but there’s nothing inherently harmful about that–large or small, looking a little more open or a little more closed, your pores are still healthy and doing their job.
Still, you may not like the way they look. If you’d like to reduce the appearance of dilated pores, know that you’re in for a bit for a fight. It’s not going to be easy, but we’ll guide you through with our best tips.
What are large pores?
Large pores are perfectly normal pores that look a little enlarged, dilated, or “open”. Some people have naturally larger pores, but there are also events that, over a lifetime, can increase the appearance of pore size: excess oil and sebum production, sun damage, skin aging, among others.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that large pores are normal (not at all harmful or unhealthy), and some people are just born with them. You may have large pores by design, and that’s just the way it is: for you, they’re just pores!
Conversely, you may not have been born with dilated pores, but you may have noticed that they’re suddenly more apparent, as if they’ve expanded specifically to haunt you from your magnifying mirror. (Here’s a really good tip: stop using magnifying mirrors. Seriously.)
What large pores are *not*
Large pores may look like blackheads or sebacous filaments, but there are subtle differences:
- Large pores look like little pinpricks. They look like tiny holes in the skin, evenly spaced, and although they may look “open”, they won’t necessarily have anything inside them;
- Blackheads are, essentially, clogged pores. They look like little raised bumps (not holes!), and they tend to be dark or black in color. They are extremely common, especially around the nose, chin, and cheeks;
- Sebaceous filaments are little “threads” that exist inside your pores. They look like tiny little white or yellow-ish “hairs” coming out of an open pore. Their role is to guide the flow or oil and sebum along the inside of the pore, all the way to the surface of the skin. Sebaceous filaments are a normal feature, and they are particularly visible around the nose, chin, and cheeks. If you find a large pore with some mysterious white stuff inside, that’s probably a sebaceous filament. Dermatologists suggest leaving it alone!
Is it normal to have large pores?
Yes, large pores are completely normal, and do not carry any associated risk. While some people have naturally larger pores than others, other people can have larger pores due to a variety of events that arise throughout life (such as excess sebum production or skin aging). Even in the latter case, having enlarged pores is not dangerous, and ends up being a purely aesthetic concern.
And just in case someone tries to tell you large pores are a bad thing: they’re really not. They’re a perfectly natural skin feature, and it’s up to you to decide if you want to fix them or not.
What causes large pores?
There are several causes for enlarged pores. A 2016 study summarized the top 3 causes of enlarged pores as excessive sebum, decreased elasticity around pores (associated with skin aging and photoaging), and increased hair follicle volume. According to this study, “chronic recurrent acne, sex hormones, and skin care regimen” can also affect pore size. Enlarged pores may also appear in association with skin conditions like rosacea.
Considering that there are so many different reasons that can cause enlarged pores, it’s important to know exactly what causes yours so you can try to resolve the situation. Dilated pores are not necessarily treatable in every situation, but targeting their specific cause will always be key to achieving the best results.
Can large pores be reduced?
Studies show that professional treatments can be effective in reducing large pores, depending on their root cause. For enlarged pores associated with excess sebum, photodynamic therapies, diode laser devices, and nonablative radio-frequency (RF) devices may be effective in reducing excess sebum and, consequently, reducing the appearance of pores. Botox may also be effective. As for enlarged pores pores associated with skin aging, professional laser treatments can be effective for reducing pores and rejuvenating the appearance of the skin.
Medication can be particularly effective when targeting dilated pores associated with excess sebum. Oral retinoids and hormonal therapies are effective in reducing excess sebum, which in turn can reduce the appearance of enlarged pores.
Now to the topical products: topical retinoids and niacinamide may be effective in reducing enlarged pores. Chemical peels may also be effective. Sun protection, of course, is an essential add-on when using these types of products.