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So, You Can’t Really Shrink Your Pores, But Here’s What You CAN Do

1. Vacuum-Clean Your Skin

Large pores and excess oil go hand in hand. When sebum gets stuck in your pores, it causes inflammation that physically expands the pore, says NYC dermatologist Adam Geyer. An easy way to suck out all that oil: a charcoal face wash or mask. Charcoal is known for its ability to bind itself to grime and extract it from your pores, says Dr. Geyer. In fact, charcoal can bind 800 times its weight in dirt and oil.

2. Slough Smarter

In an attempt to keep pores clear, it’s common to over-exfoliate, which can actually cause pore-engorging inflammation—the opposite of what you’re going for, says NYC dermatologist Carlos Charles. Swap gritty scrubs for a much gentler wipe or pad infused with chemical exfoliants, like glycolic or salicylic acid. Just be sure to only use it two or three times a week, not daily, to avoid drying out your skin.

3. Tighten Up

As you age, your skin loses collagen and elastin — the building blocks necessary for tight skin and pores. That causes sagging, which scientists now believe is why pores shift from around to a droopy, teardrop shape. “The old-school thinking was you can’t change the shape back, but you can,” says Dr. Geyer. Ingredients like yeast extract strengthen and firm pore walls, decreasing their diameter and helping restore a circular appearance.

4. Shield Your Skin From the Sun

In addition to oil and age, the sun plays a big part in how big your pores become. UV rays tear up the collagen in your skin—which we know is responsible for keeping pores tight, says Dr. Charles. A daily SPF can prevent structural skin damage before it happens.

5. Blur Your Pores

While you’re waiting for results to kick in from the treatments here, get an instant fix with a pore-minimizing primer, aka blur cream. Optical reflectors mattify skin and visually fill in pores so they look smaller and smoother. Look for an oil-free formula to avoid re-clogging pores.

This article was originally published as “Smaller Pores? Yes Really!” in the March 2015 issue of Cosmopolitan. Click here to get the issue in the iTunes store!

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