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How to Minimize Pores with Your Skincare Routine 

November 7, 2023

While genetics play a big role in pore size, your skincare habits can also affect the appearance of pores. Using the right ingredients while avoiding those that aggravate pores can help minimize them for a smoother complexion. Let’s look at the most effective skincare ingredients for tightening pores along with what products you’ll want to avoid. 


Best skincare Ingredients for Minimizing Pores  

These skincare ingredients have properties that help control excess oil production, exfoliate dead skin cells, and tighten the skin for less noticeable pores: 

Retinoids: Retinoids like retinol increase cell turnover to clear pore-clogging debris. They also stimulate collagen production to tighten the skin. If you are new to retionoids, AlphaRet from SkinBetter is an amazing option. In studies, it has been shown to be equivalent to a 0.025% tretinoin, but without the harsh side effects that can sometimes accompany tretinonin.  It also includes other beneficial ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), niacinamide, peptides and vitamin C.  

Niacinamide: This B vitamin regulates oil and sebum production to prevent pores from stretching. It also strengthens the skin barrier. Look for niacinamide as an ingredient in serums, moisturizers and sunscreen. 

AHA/BHA Acids: Chemical exfoliators like glycolic, lactic, salicylic and beta hydroxy acids exfoliate dead skin cells and debris to keep pores clear. They also have mild skin-tightening effects with consistent use. Start by using an AHA/BHA product 1-2 times per week. 

Peptides: Peptides are amino acid chains that help stimulate collagen. This plumps the skin around pores to make them appear smaller. Look for copper peptides in serums and gel creams.  

Zinc: This mineral regulates oil production and reduces P. acnes bacteria associated with breakouts. Oral supplements or topical zinc creams/serums help tighten pores. 

Products to Avoid for Large Pores 

Just as important as using beneficial ingredients is avoiding certain products that can enlarge pores: 

  • Heavy creams: Thick, greasy moisturizers get trapped in pores, causing them to dilate and appear more visible. Opt for oil-free, non-comedogenic gel creams. 
  • Coconut oil: Despite being a popular moisturizer, coconut oil is highly comedogenic for acne-prone skin. It clogs pores leading them to expand. 
  • Alcohol-based products: Toners and cleansers with alcohol dry out skin, causing an increase in oil production and stretched pores. 
  • Harsh scrubs: Aggressive physical exfoliators create micro-tears and irritation, enlarging pores. Use scrubs no more than 1-2 times per week. 
  • Bar soap: The alkaline pH of bar soaps strips the acid mantle, triggering sebum production. This clogs pores. Use a gentle, low-pH cleanser. 
  • Fragrance: Synthetic fragrances in products exacerbate skin sensitivities that can enlarge pores. Opt for fragrance-free items. 
  • Heavy makeup: Non-breathable formulas like oil-based foundations or long-wear makeup clog pores over time. Remove all makeup thoroughly before bed. 
Photo of various white, blue, and copper colored skincare product bottles laying scattered on a table

Tips for Improving Pore Size 

In addition to avoiding pore-provoking products and using beneficial ingredients, these tips can help to further minimize pores: 

  • Exfoliate regularly with AHAs or BHAs to prevent dead skin buildup around pores. But don’t over-exfoliate. 
  • Use an appropriate face wash and moisturizer for your skin type. Oily skin benefits from oil-free gels while dry skin needs more hydrating creams.  
  • Remove makeup every evening and cleanse your skin to prevent clogged pores.  
  • Wear non-comedogenic sunscreen daily to prevent UV damage that enlarges pores. 
  • Get facials done regularly (like the HydraFacial) for deep cleaning and tightening of pores. Extractions also help. 


With a combination of the right skincare routine, avoiding pore-aggravating products, and consistent use of beneficial ingredients, you can minimize the look of enlarged pores. Be patient and diligent as improving pore appearance takes some trial and error and time. 

If you need help navigating a new skincare routine or any skin concerns you may be struggling with, get in touch! Fill out our new patient inquiry form to get started with a complimentary consultation with one of our providers.