Everything You Need To Know About Pores


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Here at HB HQ, our main goal is to try and help you guys with any beauty-related issue from skincare to makeup, and one thing we’re always asked about is pores! Even though everyone has them and you’re the only one that notices your own pores, we totally get if you want to try and make them appear smaller – whatever makes you happy! So, before we let you in on the best pore-refining product, we need to set you straight on the facts: here’s the truth about pores.

What Causes Large Pores? 

Although you probably identify pores as those little spaces of air in your skin, they’re actually the opening of a hair follicle. The hairs are often so small they’re not visible, but due to the oil glands that are at the base of the follicle, the follicle can over-grow, causing your pores to enlarge, which makes them more noticeable. But, no matter how many pore-busting products you apply, they’ll never go away completely, as the original size of your pores is determined by genetics and hormones. The best you can do is keep your pores as unclogged as possible and avoid squeezing them, which is what stretches them out. You can help to minimize their appearance, but you won’t get rid of them entirely.


How to Minimize the Appearance of Pores:

Wear SPF

According to our go-to, New York-based dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, the most important thing you can do, which actually applies to pretty much all skin issues, is to wear sun protection. She explains that “the sun dehydrates your skin and makes the oil glands over-grow.” so it’ll “make your pores look bigger.” And all that extra oil can also cause the formation of blackheads and whiteheads, due to the excess oil that blocks the skin. Always wear an SPF 50 with 5-star UVA rating during the summer months, however, during the winter months, you can get away with an SPF or moisturizer containing SPF 25 or 30. Make sure you apply it at the end of your skincare regime but before you apply your makeup, as the SPF acts as a barrier. Check out our fave SPFs that work flawlessly alone, under or over makeup here.

Double cleanse

One of the easiest ways to enhance the quality of your skin and make your pores appear smaller is to thoroughly remove any oil, dirt and other impurities that are lying on the surface. The quickest way to do this to employ our ride or die K-beauty rule – double cleansing. It’s super simple, just cleanse first using an oil cleanser, and then cleanse once more using a foam, cream or gel cleanser, whichever formula suits your skin type (check out our cleanser guide here). The better you get at cleansing, the less dirt and oil will clog your pores, which will help to minimize their appearance.

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Exfoliate with acids weekly

Just like double cleansing, exfoliating will further help to reduce the build-up of debris in your pores, which can make them look bigger. Since one of the most important methods for removing impurities and dead skin is exfoliation, it’s an integral step in the pore-minimizing process.

But we’re not talking about using grainy exfoliators that have the potential to literally strip your skin, instead, we’re talking about chemical exfoliators like AHAs and BHAs (salicylic acid). These acid-based formulas penetrate deep into your pores and can dissolve the glue that holds all the sebum and dirt together, effectively dislodging all the dead skin cells and unclogging the pore. Our secret weapon is toning with the Corsx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner, $14, every evening, and we also like to use the Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment, $93, once or twice weekly.

Use a retinoid 

A great topical agent for minimizing the appearance of your pores is retinol, which is essentially vitamin A. However, when you apply it to the skin it converts to retinoic acid, which boosts skin cell turnover and thickens the deeper layer of your skin. Not only does it smooth out wrinkles by increasing collagen production, it also decreases oil production and thereby tightens pores and helps to reduce acne. Remember, less oil = smaller looking pores.

How to: Because retinol is very strong, it’s best to start slow – especially if you have rosacea, sensitive or very dry skin (consider consulting with your dermatologist first). For the first two weeks, start using it only once or twice a week. By week three, use it two to three times a week, and after one month, if your skin hasn’t had a reaction (got very dry), you can then try using it every other night.

If you’re using AHAs or BHAs anywhere in your skincare routine, these should not be used on the same night that you use a retinoid. We love the extremely potent Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, $58, which also contains cold-pressed extracts of avocado, chia and grape seed to promote healthier, more radiant skin.

Our Favorite Pore-Refining DIYs:


A gentle steam can do serious things for your skin, most importantly it’ll majorly hydrate your skin, which means your pores will be more receptive to other topical products that you apply. Once your skin is soft and supple, you can apply other products to exfoliate your pores, like The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, $9. Then finish it off by applying a hyaluronic acid (our fav is Yeouth’s Pure Hyaluronic Acid, $15) to maximize hydration without blocking your pores.

Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

Apple cider vinegar contains natural AHAs, which means it will gently exfoliate the skin. Simply mix organic apple cider vinegar with distilled water in equal parts to create a toner, and then apply it onto cleansed skin with a cotton pad – warning, it does smell quite potent!

Ice Bath

Before a big event or date night, we do an ice facial to close up our pores. Check out how the Victoria’s Secret models do an ice facial here.

 Our go-to products

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If you have large pores and you want to reduce their appearance, look for products that contain ingredients like salicylic acid, niacinamide, and caffeine. These are our three go-to products:

  • The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, $13: This amazing chemical exfoliator contains glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and citric AHAs, and Salicylic acid which will exfoliate dead skin for a deep cleanse. It’s super potent though, so you only need to use it once every two weeks.
  • Bioré Limited-Edition Deep Cleansing Pore Strips, $10: These pore-cleansing strips help extract any dirt or oil clogging your pores.
  • Sand & Sky Australian Pink Clay Porefining Mask, $49: This cult classic is an amazing pore-cleaning mask. The clay contains zeolite, a mineral that’ll help remove toxins by cleansing and purifying your skin, removing dirt or oil clogging your pores, thereby minimizing their appearance.

Let us know if you guys have any pore-refining products you love in the comments below.