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Image of a sponge representing enlarged pores

8 things you should know about enlarged pores – and potential treatments

Pores are an incredibly important part of the human body. They protect and clean our skin by producing oil and help regulate our body temperatures through sweat production.

Enlarged pores are usually caused by excess oil or sebum and can make some feel a little self-conscious about the condition of their skin. There are plenty of products out there that promise to ‘close’ your pores. But did you know that isn’t possible? Luckily there are lots of options that do work.

So, what are the facts?

1. There are distinct types of pores

We all have two types of pores: sweat pores and oil pores.

  • Sweat pores tend to be smaller, tighter and, as the name suggests, are where you sweat from.
  • Oil pores are generally hair follicles that are also responsible for the production of sebum that helps lubricate the body. They can often become blocked by excess oil and dirt – leading to spots and blackheads.

2. Various things can be responsible for enlarged pores

Enlarged pores are usually caused by blockages under the surface of the skin, often arising from dead skin cells or excess oil, known as sebum.

Environmental, genetic, and age-based factors can all contribute to the likelihood of developing enlarged pores. For example, we may experience excessive sebum production during puberty because of hormonal changes and sweat more while exercising or when stressed. Both oil and sweat, meanwhile, may be produced in larger quantities if our underlying genetic makeup makes our glands more active.

3. Pores don’t ‘open’

Contrary to popular belief, pores don’t open and close. Instead, they can widen or narrow – and do so throughout the day.

Therefore, the belief that warm water and steam help to ‘open’ your pores is nonsense. Warmer temperatures can loosen trapped oil and sebum inside pores, but it won’t cause the pores to dilate themselves.

4. Too much sun can lead to pores widening

Exposure to the sun can damage pores and cause them to lose their elasticity – leading to enlarging.

This is because UV rays from the sun damage skin and inhibit collagen production, the protein responsible for healthy, tight skin. Always use a strong SPF for this reason, every day.

5. Moisturise daily

It may seem counterproductive to moisturise daily when skin is already oily, but keeping it hydrated directs the natural oil from your sebaceous glands deeper into the dermis, rather than directing it to sit in the pores on a parched surface. Opt for oil-free and non-comedogenic products.

6. Exfoliating is important

Exfoliation can help remove oil and dead skin cells, reducing enlarged pores and the effects of related skin conditions.

Choose beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic, polyhrdroxy acids such as lactobionic and gluconolactone, and mandelic for sensitive skin.

Try to avoid scratching or picking at any spots – as you could damage your pores. A damaged pore is more likely to stay enlarged and could scar as a result.

7. Clay can be a pore-friendly choice

An oil-absorbing facial mask, like those made of clay, is great for drawing sebum out of pores and soaking up any excess oil in the process. Use them on a different day to your exfoliating acids as too much product can irritate your skin and cause other skin concerns to flare up.

8. Cosmetic treatments can help

There are several clinical options for tackling enlarged pores too.

Laser skin treatment, low-level laser therapy or IPL can have some success here, targeting pores with a tiny, non-invasive beam of hot light which breaks up hardened oil and sebum.

Laser treatment can also be used to generate collagen production in the skin.

Chemical peels can be a fantastic treatment too. Acting to strip away bacteria, dirt, and other impurities from the top-most level of our skin, they can offer a cleansing effect to our pores that removes blockages and allows sweat and oil pores to narrow.

  • Trichloroacetic acid peels are recommended by some clinicians, as their medium strength is ideal for common skin conditions. Application usually takes just half an hour.
  • Alpha hydroxy acid peels are also extremely effective at cleansing the skin of dead skin cells and excess sebum, making them suitable candidates for treating enlarged pores.

Microneedling or RF microneedling targets acne scars, blemishes, fine lines, and can leave you with fresher, clearer skin.

Microdermabrasion can also help. A non-invasive, non-surgical treatment, microdermabrasion facials buff away dead skin cells using abrasive diamonds or crystals.

Remember to seek out a qualified clinician if you are considering these options, for the best, professional results.


Enlarged pores can be down to both biological and environmental factors.

But making changes to your skincare regime, with some smart skincare choices products can tackle the problem at the root cause – an overproduction of sebum.

Clinical treatments, meanwhile, may offer even swifter and long-lasting solutions. You can use our clinic locator to find options near you.

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