Skin Care for Pores: Large Pores, Clogged Pores + More

Skin Care
Vitamin C
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lemon skin with large pores

Although pores have a crucial role in releasing sebum and moisturizing skin, they become a concern when dilated. Large pores are by no means a skin condition but rather an aesthetic issue most people struggle with at some point. As such, everyone is on the hunt to find out how to minimize pores and the best skincare for pores. The bad news? You can't change pores' size. But we've got good news, too: there are ways to clear pores, making them appear smaller and prevent them from stretching. Here is everything you need to know about how to minimize pores' look and stop them from widening.

What Are Pores?

Pores are openings around hair follicles through which sebum generated by the sebaceous glands reaches the skin's surface to keep it moist. They are present all over the body, where oil glands are located, though pores are more abundant on the scalp, legs, and face, especially the nose, due to the increased number of sebaceous glands in that area.[1]


With large pores being one of the major skincare concerns, there are a lot of questions circling around the topic. It makes sense since large pores can make skin appear dull and aged, and they can even be a host for breakouts.

What causes enlarged pores?

The most common cause of large pores is excess sebum secretion which gets trapped in the skin with dead cells and bacteria, forcing pores to widen. However, enlarged pores can also be caused by genetics, decreased collagen production, hormones, and sun exposure.[2]

Can you shrink your pores?

You can't shrink pores since they lack muscles, but you can make them appear smaller by keeping them clear with your skincare routine. Unless you're willing to appeal to cosmetic procedures, like microneedling or laser resurfacing, there's not much you can do about the natural size of your pores.

How do you keep pores from getting bigger?

Sebum secretion, sun damage, and decreased collagen levels are the main culprits for pores getting bigger, so your skincare routine plays an important role. Exfoliate regularly to prevent dead cell buildup, keep your skin hydrated to avoid excess sebum, use collagen boosters (we're looking at you, vitamin C), and apply sunscreen daily.

What is the best product to reduce pores?

The best skincare routine for large pores should include exfoliators, like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. They are excellent for reducing pores' look because they dissolve the 'glue' that holds cells together and sop up excess oil.[3] Also, retinol and vitamin C are a go-to for reducing pores due to their collagen-inducing abilities, while hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide are beneficial because of how well they balance oil.[4]

Pro tip:

Keep non-comedogenic products on your radar as these are less likely to clog your pores and make them appear more visible. The word "non-comedogenic" means the product won't clog your pores. When pores clog, they expand, which can make them look more noticeable.

What are blackhead pores, and how do you get rid of them?

Blackheads are blocked hair follicles that form when pores get clogged with dead skin and excess oil. The best way to get rid of blackheads is by steaming and professional extraction in a salon. Also, chemical peels, charcoal masks, cleansing brushes, and retinol are great at helping remove blackheads, though not as dramatically as a facial would.

Why are the pores on my legs red? (What causes strawberry legs?)

Strawberry legs occur when pores get clogged with dead skin buildup, dirt, and bacteria. Usually, this happens if you don't exfoliate your legs regularly and moisturize them after every shower.

What causes dark pores on legs, and how do you fix it?

Dark pores on legs are caused by debris and dead cells trapped in the hair follicles, and the best way to keep them clear is by exfoliation. You do this with a body scrub, ideally, one that contains a combination of beads for physical exfoliation and acids, like glycolic and salicylic.

Skin Care for Pores

Since skincare is a crucial prevention measure for large pores, having a consistent and targeted regimen is key. For this reason, we're sharing the best way to care for your pores so that you prevent them from widening.


Start your regimen with a cleanser that aids in gentle exfoliation in addition to dissolving makeup and impurities. Look out for alpha-hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, and fruit enzymes while keeping an eye on hydrating ingredients so that your face wash won't strip away the skin's natural moisture. This helps pores stay clear of sebum and junk and offers fewer chances to congest and widen.


In case you don't know how to layer your skincare products, toner comes next. Toner is perfect for eliminating the residues the cleanser didn't take off and balancing the skin's pH. If your pH balance is off, your skin can get dehydrated and cause pores to enlarge by producing extra sebum. So, opt for gentle toners packed with salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide and steer clear of those that contain drying ingredients like SD alcohol and synthetic fragrances.


Serum is king for helping refine pores and supporting oil balance as it shoots actives deep into the skin layers. Choose serums that aim to encourage cell turnover, hydrate, and enhance collagen production. Retinol and vitamin C are the MVPs. You can use our Brightening Boost Vitamin C System in the morning and the Time Rewind Retinol at night for a double dose of pore-clogging prevention.


Not moisturizing can lead to dryness and wrinkles, two common causes of large pores. Or, for some, skipping a moisturizer can signal the sebaceous glands to produce more oil to make up for the loss, which can also widen pores. Thus, moisturizer is a must for preventing pores from enlarging. A moisturizer should contain humectants to add water to the skin, like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, and occlusives to hinder water evaporation, such as squalane and ceramides.


Sun is responsible for breaking down collagen and elastin levels, leading to wrinkles, saggy skin, and eventually - larger pores. Using sunscreen daily with at least SPF 30 is non-negotiable for preventing photodamage and large pores.

What to Avoid

There are a plethora of things you should avoid to prevent pores from becoming wider. These include:

  • Drying ingredients like alcohol and fragrances
  • Squeezing any buildup out of the pores
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • Extraction tools at home
  • Comedogenic products

The Best Skin Care Routine for Large Pores

Debris, sebum, and product residues often get trapped in the pores, clogging and widening them. Congested pores not only can lead to breakouts but it is that buildup that stretches pores. Here is the best skincare routine for large pores:


  • Cleanse with a gentle exfoliating face wash and warm water
  • Layer a salicylic acid serum
  • Trap everything in with a non-comedogenic moisturizer
  • Slather on SPF 30 sunscreen


  • Remove makeup and debris with an exfoliating face wash and warm water
  • Dissolve leftovers and balance pH with toner
  • Use retinol serum
  • Apply a non-clogging moisturizer

AM: Brightening Boost Vitamin C. SHOP NOW PM: Time Rewind Retinol. SHOP NOW
pictured: pore-reducing AM/PM routine with Exponent Beauty Vitamin C and Retinol Serums

How to Get Rid of Clogged Pores Overnight

You can't get rid of clogged pores overnight, but you can make a huge difference and prevent them from congesting with these practices:

  • Avoid picking at your pores
  • Exfoliate twice weekly with a salicylic acid peel
  • Use antioxidants to prevent sebum oxidation
  • Moisturize with a non-comedogenic cream
  • Use a detoxifying charcoal mask once or twice a week
  • Apply retinol serum as tolerated

Get Started with The Best

At Exponent, our mission is to set a new standard for effective skincare so you can cut through the clutter and choose products that actually work without worrying about the daily environment deactivating them. Make up for lost time with skincare that's ahead of its time, and try our Brightening Boost Vitamin C System. This super hero product prevents sebum oxidation, aka blackheads, and boosts collagen production to help prevent pores from stretching. At night rely on our Time Rewind Retinol System — it encourages cell turnover and induces collagen and hyaluronic acid production, two key molecules involved in skin moisture that prevent dryness and excess oil, both causes of large pores.

pictured: before and after 6 weeks of using Exponent Beauty Clear Comeback Serum.
See more clinical results, reviews and shop: Exponent Beauty Clear Comeback System

Or, if you're struggling with blackheads and pimples, get your hands on our Clear Comeback Probiotic Enzyme System. It reduces pore size and decreases blemishes and blackheads thanks to a 1.3% blend of willow bark, probiotics, and exfoliating fruit enzymes.


  • Flament F, Francois G, Qiu H, Ye C, Hanaya T, Batisse D, Cointereau-Chardon S, Seixas MD, Dal Belo SE, Bazin R. Facial skin pores: a multiethnic study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 Feb 16 Source
  • Lee SJ, Seok J, Jeong SY, Park KY, Li K, Seo SJ. Facial Pores: Definition, Causes, and Treatment Options. Dermatol Surg. 2016 Mar Source
  • Kakudo N, Kushida S, Tanaka N, Minakata T, Suzuki K, Kusumoto K. A novel method to measure conspicuous facial pores using computer analysis of digital-camera-captured images: the effect of glycolic acid chemical peeling. Skin Res Technol. 2011 Nov Source
  • American Academy of Dermatology Association, What Can Treat Facial Large Pores Source


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