Women would do just about anything to reduce the appearance of their pores. In fact, in a recent Harris Poll sponsored by L’Oreal, 23 percent of women said they would give up their favorite cocktails for a whole year just to have smaller pores. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to minimize the issue—none of which involve sacrificing happy hour.
Use a combination of both physical exfoliants (like facial scrubs) and chemical exfoliants (like alcohol-free glycolic serums) on a regular basis. This will help remove dry surface cells so the openings of your pores aren’t as deep, making them look smaller, says celebrity estheticianRenee Rouleau. As an added bonus, chemical exfoliants can get into the pores and help clean them out.
Keep Your Face Clean
That means cleansing twice a day with a pH-balanced cleanser, says dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, M.D. Consider using a facial brush like Clarisonic Aria Sonic Cleansing or the Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System.
Exposure to UVA and UVB rays creates free radical damage, which slows down cell production. “Slow cell production forces your skin to work harder,” says Shawn Solomon, a paramedical esthetician and owner of Thornhill Skin Care. “In turn, the stratum corneum thickens, and this can make the pores look large and ruddy.”
Apply Retinol-Based Products
“They work by decreasing the cohesiveness of the epidermal cells so all the debris gets removed from the pores,” says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. Jaliman recommends Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum or Roc Retinol Correxion Max Wrinkle Resurfacing System.
Take a Steam
Cecilia Wong, a holistic esthetician and owner of Cecilia Wong Skincare, suggests opening up pores and removing debris, oil, and other impurities with an herbal facial steam. To do this, combine hot water, fresh red rose petals, lavender, pansy, rosemary, basil, and mint in a large bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with a dish towel for five minutes, then remove the towel and slowly move your face over the steam. Inhale the aromatic scent, and remain under the towel for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the steam to bring oxygen and moisture to your face while cleansing pores. Afterward, rinse with tepid water, and pat dry.
Book a Spa Day
One of the most popular professional treatments for achieving a youthful complexion with petite pores is microdermabrasion, says Maria Rianna, lead esthetician at White Tea Med Spa in New York City. 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 (smaller) shape since there’s nothing inside to enlarge them. The procedure also stimulates collagen production and increases elasticity, which is essential for keeping pores tight. Other salon treatments like laser resurfacing and light chemical peels can also strip pores of debris and tighten them.
Wipe Down Post-Workout
This prevents sweat from clogging pores, says California-based dermatologist Michael Lin, M.D. Keep towelettes that are moistened with gentle cleansers and salicylic acid in your gym bag to make washing your face more convenient.