Ask ITG: Can I Shrink My Pores?


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Dear ITG,
Is there REALLY any way other than lasers to get poreless (or significantly reduced size, at least) skin? I know pore size is genetic, which is why this is tricky. Lotion P50? Retinol? Something else I've never heard of? Currently using rX retinol every other night and haven't seen a difference in pore size yet—but have only used one month. If the only thing to really reduce them is some sort of laser or chemical treatment, which one would you recommend?

Hello! Hi. How is your Tuesday going so far? I am literally thrilled—that’s the correct usage of literally, because my heart is thumping to a crescendo while writing this—to be kicking off Ask ITG, Into The Gloss’ email advice column. And I’m even more excited to be talking about my favorite things in the world: pores! There are already two exclamation points in the first paragraph of this, and I edited two others out, so you know it’s going to be a wild ride.

Sorry, I should amend: Pores are my favorite things to talk about. They are not my favorite things to own, and I own hundreds of them, each a tiny burden crowding my face. Little children of mine whom I resent. And like having children and growing to resent them, there is little you can do regarding their existence.

As you pointed out, pore size is genetic, which renders shrinkage a myth. Nothing in the beauty world can legally claim as such. Every exfoliant worth its weight in outlawed microbeads promises to “reduce the appearance of pore size,” but that doesn’t make sense. Imagine hiring an assassin to murder your ex Greg, but instead, all the assassin can do is “reduce the appearance of Greg” in your life. If you’re going to spend the money, you want to get it done. You want to flay Greg for what he did, and you also want a poreless face.

A deep clean goes a long way. Often, pores seem bigger because they’re filled to the brim with oxidized sebum and dead skin cells. Once you clean them out, they don’t shrink or disappear, but they’re not as easy to spot. My favorite way to extract at home is steaming my face, applying CosRx Blackhead Power Liquid to loosen all gunk, and lightly going to town on my nose and cheeks with a Tweezerman No-Slip. This also improves skin texture and is a wonderfully satisfying experience.

If the idea of pulling strings of goop from your face scares you, there’s a less gruesome solution in blur primer. Blur primers are usually silicone-based skincare products that kind of fill your pores, creating a smooth, unblemished surface for makeup. When you apply product, it glides right over, and makes your face look filter-perfect. My favorites are the Kiehl’s Micro Blur, which is very light and perfect for every day, and Image Skincare Prime Flawless Blur, which is basically liquid plastic. Both make you look immaculate.

As far as in-office treatments, there are laser programs available to treat pores. The most popular one I can think of is Fraxel, which is the brand name of a laser resurfacing treatment that lots of dermatologists use to stimulate facial collagen production. I think Fraxel is great, and people seem to love it for treating acne scars, age spots, and wrinkles. For pores, though, the results are dubious, and the testimonials are kind of vague. (“I definitely think my pores might look smaller!”) Personally, I’d love to see a medical treatment for the reduction of pore size. We will see what the rest of 2017 holds for both of us.

As it turns out, the definitive answer on pore shrinkage is not so definitive. I hate this, and I struggle with it as somebody who lists pore size as a skincare priority on all those pre-facial release forms. But all in all, pores are what make skin look like skin. I think—and excuse the hokeyness of this—that loving your pores is worth trying. (It’s also a lot cheaper than Fraxel.) Pores are not my favorite things to own, but I own them. See how that works out, and if it doesn’t, that’s fine, too, because there’s CosRx.

—Brennan Kilbane

Photo via ITG. Sign up for Ask ITG here.

Lessons in pore care: gouging your pores, covering your pores, and exfoliating your pores.