From big pores to clogged ones: Every single question you've ever had about your pores, answered.

Pores. We spend hours looking at them in the mirror (or in video chat meetings) and hundreds of dollars trying to get rid of them.

Whether you feel like yours are too big or too greasy, or that they take up a rude amount of real estate on your nose, every single one of us has pores on our faces. And we’d bet almost every single one of us has also Googled ‘hot to get rid of pores’ at least once.

WATCH: Here are seven ways to improve your skin while you sleep, post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

Yes, we spend a lot of energy complaining about our pores, but have you ever stopped to wonder… what are pores and what do they actually do?

Turns out, pores are pretty misunderstood. They have feelings, too. But once you get to know your pores, you can come to an arrangement whereby they do all the important things they’re meant to, without bothering the rest of your face.

Keep scrolling for every single question you’ve ever had about your pores, answered.

What are pores and what is their purpose?

Biologi’s Dermal Specialist Lucy Macdougald says while pores can be bloody annoying, especially if you have really visible ones, they actually do a few jobs to keep you and your skin healthy.

“Pores allow sweat to escape through our skin, which acts as a functionality to help cool you down. Secondly, pores let oil come out, which gives toxins a way to escape while allowing the skin to stay moisturised. Lastly, pores are also the opening of our hair follicles which sit beneath our pores,” she told Mamamia.

How do pores get blocked?

Great question!

Macdougald says it’s not just one thing, but a combination of factors like “excess oil production, dry skin or not cleansing and exfoliating properly.”

FYI, everyone has pores, and they all will get blocked to some degree. This is what very blocked pores can look like. Image: Getty.

Why do pores look bigger in some areas of the face than others?

By 'some areas', we're of course talking about the nose and chin. Bastards.

"As a general rule, bigger pores in certain areas of your face are likely clogged for some reason. Many people find their pores might be enlarged on their nose or chin, which can often be linked back to our cleansing habits (how well do you exfoliate your nose?) and also hormones (issues in the chin area is often a sign of hormone imbalances)."

Why do some people have small pores and others, big pores?

Perhaps the most puzzling question of all... why do my pores look like saggy craters when others have uniform glass skin? Genetics. And age.

"The size of your pores is mostly due to your genetics and age, which unfortunately isn’t something we can control. When it comes to our genetics, people who have inherited oily skin will likely have larger pores. This is because their pores are more active in releasing oil through wider openings. So, you can thank your parents for that!

"When it comes to age, however, as we grow older, our skin loses its elasticity and slows down production of collagen. Thus, the skin stretches and sags, making pores appear larger."

Are there any other factors that cause pores to become enlarged?

'But I have dry skin and am 12, why are my pores enlarged,' you ask?

Other factors that affect pore size include:

  • Lifestyle habits like smoking - inhaling nicotine regularly can dry out the skin, which shrinks blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nourishment to the skin.
  • Excessive sun exposure - sun damage can lead to inflammation, which thickens skin cells and causes cells to pool around pores’ edges, making them appear larger.
  • Poor diet.
  • Poor cleansing habits.
  • Lack of exfoliation.
  • Extreme stress.
  • Hormone fluctuations.

What about blackheads? Are they dirt in your pores?

Nope! Blackheads aren't bits of dirt in your pores. So, please, don't try to scrub them off with harsh scrubs and tools.

"The black colour of the blackhead is due to discolouration of the sebum when exposed to air. It is not dirt and people with blackheads are not dirty," Dermatologist Professor Rodney Sinclair told Mamamia.


“It is caused by a buildup of oil, known as sebum in the hair follicle that dilates the pore. The sebum is produced by the oil glands on the side of the hair follicle called the sebaceous gland. When the oil is exposed to air it oxidises. That process produces a colour change in the sebum that turns it black, hence the name blackhead."

LISTEN: We talk all things blackheads of this episode of the You Beauty podcast below. Post continues after audio.

How to open pores and how to close pores.

This one's an old-school skincare myth, as Paula’s Choice Senior Research and Education Manager Desiree Stordahl told Mamamia.

"While the skin around our pores can dilate and retract as a result of hot or cold temperatures, the pores themselves don’t actually have the ability open and shut," she said.

Also, what about sebaceous filaments? Are they different to blackheads?

Sebaceous Filaments is a term only beauty buffs of those with medical knowledge will have heard of. Basically, everyone has them, and they sit inside your pores and allow oil to flow freely through the channel.

If you look closely at the tip of your nose, you'll see small, pin-like dots. If the dots are dark, they're probably blackheads, and if they're clear-ish, they're sebaceous filaments.

You can't fully get rid of them as they're naturally-occurring in your pores, but you can treat them in the same way you treat your pores (we'll get to that in a bit).

Is it actually possible to 'get rid of your pores'?

'How to get rid of pores' is a question that comes up in the You Beauty Facebook group once a day, minimum.

The answer is: no, you cannot get rid of pores.

How to minimise pores/tighten pores/make pores smaller.

Another punch to the gut - you cannot make your pores smaller. You also can't shrink them, or minimise them, or tighten them. You can change the way your pores look, though.

Macdougald added, "You can target the appearance of pores and make them ‘appear’ smaller. This is an important thing to note because some products will claim they ‘shrink pores’ - it's simply not true. Likely what they mean is it can reduce the appearance of them, and I do agree with that statement."

So, do pore strips work?

100 per cent no. But keep scrolling for the products that do.

Best products and ingredients for minimising the appearance of pores?

Look for skincare products that contain 'active' ingredients (active = it's doing something) to moisturise the skin, reduce any inflammation, gently exfolaite the pores and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier.

We're talking about ingredients like:

  • Niacinamide.
  • Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) - water-soluble chemical exfoliation acids including glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid and mandelic acid.
  • Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) - oil-soluble chemical exfoliation acid salicylic acid.
  • Enzymes.

Usually, a two-pronged approach does the trick. Exfoliating can dry out your skin, so you've always got to put moisture back in with hydrating serums and moisturisers.


Here are some of the best products for targeting pores:

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, $38.01.

Image: Paula's Choice.

Alpha-H Liquid Gold, $59.95.

Image: Alpha-H.

Biologi Bd Face Luminosity Serum, $108.

Image: Biologi.

Skinceuticals Retexturing Activator, $126.

Image: Adore Beauty.

Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, $62.

Image: Paula's Choice.

The Ordinary The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $9.90.

Image: Adore Beauty.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, $12.90.

Image: Adore Beauty.

Best products and ingredients for treating congested or 'clogged' pores?

With the products and ingredients listed above that will help to exfoliate and 'clean' the inside of the pore, Macdougald warns over-cleansing and over-exfoliating can strip the skin of its natural oils, drying it out and telling the pores to produce even more oil.

If you've never used an active skincare product before, start off applying it to cleansed skin every second or third night.

Best skin treatments for those concerned about the appearance of their pores?

In Macdougald's opinion? Microdermabrasion.

"Microdermabrasion assists in the removal of dead and dry skin cells from the surface of the skin, which in turn reduces any congestion and targets blackheads - these are the big culprits for larger pore sizes."

You can also have blackheads and blocked pores (a.k.a pimples!) extracted by a experienced, professional skin specialist.

What about products for sensitive skin types to target pores?

Many of us have skin that's become sensitised due to having a bad reaction to a product, or using too many products.

The best advice? Keep your routine really simple and gentle, but consistent.

Choose a gentle cleanser, gentle exfoliant (glycolic acid may be too strong - try one with lactic acid or fruit enzymes), a hydrating serum with niacinimde and/or vitamin B5 or hyaluronic acid), a non-irritating moisturiser and an SPF 50+ sunscreen you'll wear on your face every day. That's it.

Best primer for pores?

Finally, using a pore-minimising primer will give you the fastest, temporary results. They contains silicone, and glide over the skin to mattify shine and minimise the appearance of pores. Basically, the product fills in your pore holes for a smooth surface to apply makeup on top of.

One of the most popular pore-minimising primers is Benefit’s The POREfessional Face Primer, $56 (you can try a smaller size for $25 before committing to the larger size). This one sits under your makeup to blur the appearance of pores.

And that is everything you need to know about your pores. What a ride.

Feature image: Getty.

Do you have any beauty questions you'd love answered by an expert? Tell us in the comments below!

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