Hold Up—These 7 Sneaky Skin Mistakes Are Making Your Pores Look Bigger


(Image credit: Getty Images)

"I really wish my pores looked bigger," said no one ever. If you're like us, enlarged, dilated pores are one of those cursedly annoying little skin woes that are far, far from the end of the world but annoying and frustrating nonetheless. We wanted to find out what specifically we can do to help minimize the look of pores, especially as we're on the verge of summer and things like sun and sweat only seem to exacerbate our pore predicament.

After reaching out to two A-list skin experts on the subject, we sadly found out there isn't anything that will actually change or fix the size of our pores, but there are certain things that may surreptitiously make them appear larger and more noticeable than they need to be. Intrigued? Keep scrolling! Ahead, we're uncovering seven major skin mistakes hindering your efforts where pore minimization is concerned. 

But First, Some Pore 101

According to Rowan Hall-Farrise, head of international education and training for QMS Medicosmetics, pores are the small openings on the skin that are in charge of regulating and releasing toxins through our natural oils and sweat. Therefore, they actually play a pivotal role in our overall skin health.

As far as pore size, however, that mostly comes down to genetics, skin type, aging, and environmental factors. Celebrity esthetician Cynthia Franco (who has worked with Salma Hayek, Lucy Boynton, Lena Headey, and more) points out pores can become packed and dilated with sebum, makeup, dirt, and other debris, which can ultimately cause them to stretch, making them appear larger than their natural size. Generally, the T-zone (aka the forehead and nose) is where people notice the biggest issues with pore size because the sebaceous glands in that region tend to be more prominent than those in other areas of the face.

"Olive and darker skin tones tend to have larger pores and more sebum production," Franco adds. Additionally, UV damage and the natural aging process can play a major role in how big or small our pores look. "An important factor to consider is the elasticity of the skin," agrees Hall-Farrise. "As we age, we produce less collagen, and the skin’s elastin decreases. Firm skin supports the pores and makes them appear smaller, so when our skin starts to lose that bounce or plump feel, pores can appear more dilated."

Another common denominator is the overproduction of oils and congestion, but it’s not just oily skin types that are prone to large pores. "Skin type is another major factor," says Hall-Farrise. "If you have an oily skin type, your pores will expand to release the overproduction of oils from the glands. Equally, if the skin is dehydrated, your pores can overcompensate by releasing oils to combat the dehydration." 

These Mistakes Make Your Pores Look Bigger

Mistake #1: Using Cleansers That Are Too Harsh

Mistake #2: Overusing Scrubs and Exfoliants

Mistake #3: Not Wearing SPF Every Day Year-Round 

Mistake #4: Using the Wrong Acids

Mistake #5: Skipping Toner

Mistake #6: Not Removing Your Makeup

Mistake #7: Forgoing Regular Facials


(Image credit: @cynmarietherapy)

Although regular facials are an investment, they can make a big difference in terms of minimizing the look of your pores. According to both Hall-Farrise and Franco, shooting for somewhere between every four to eight weeks is a good goal for optimum skin maintenance. 

"A licensed skin therapist can do wonders for your skin," Franco confirms. Keeping the skin clean with extractions and treatments can and will help, and things like peels, micro-channel needling, radiofrequency skin-tightening, and microdermabrasion will not only help with exfoliation but also help pores to look smaller and more refined. 

Other treatments by a board-certified dermatologist will greatly help as well, and Franco specifically lists things like IPL (intense pulsed light), ablative and non-ablative fractional laser, C02 peels, and photodynamic therapy as potentially great options for those looking to minimize the look of pores. She recommends checking in with your dermatologist to find out how many treatments might be needed and what the downtime/commitment is like.

Up next: 5 Skincare Experts Share the Best Products and Tips for Unclogging Pores

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.