How to Shrink Pores: We Asked an Expert Dermatologist

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Photo: Luca Cannonieri/

In our Q&A series, beauty experts address your most bewildering issues. Have a beauty-related quandary of your own? Submit your question in the comments below or via Twitter.

Q: How can I shrink my pores?

A: No matter how perfectly you apply your foundation, the texture of your skin will look uneven if your pores are enlarged. Pores become clogged when oil and dead skin cells build up inside the sebaceous gland, and there are a few ways to prevent this, says New York dermatologist Dr. Amy Wechsler.

First and foremost: exfoliate. Cleansers, peels and masks that have salicylic acid or glycolic acid help to shed the top layer of dead skin cells and remove excess oil, which prevents pores from clogging, and also decongest pores that are already clogged. Retinoid creams such as Retin-A and Renova can also be a good option, since they exfoliate as they boost collagen and elastin. “They can be obtained from your dermatologist, and there are even some over-the-counter products available,” says Dr. Wechsler.  For an over-the-counter version (they’re called retinols), try RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream ($22.99, which has a milder strength than most retinols and works throughout the night.

Another option: laser treatments. “They penetrate pores and there are various levels of treatments. Overall, it promotes radiance, improved skin texture, smaller pores and fewer fine lines with a few treatments,” Dr. Wechsler explains. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels also work. “[They] will remove the top layer of skin, eliminating the widest part of the pore and making the opening seem smaller.”

Read more: How to Get Rid of Acne Overnight