Why Your Pores Get Bigger As You Age (And How To Fix It)

As people age, change happens on the inside and the outside. Maturing affects everything from skin pigment to texture, so it’s mainly the world around your pores—the surrounding skin—that changes. Here’s a quick guide to understanding why (and how) your pores change, and solutions for keeping them manageable.

What Affects Pore Size

It’s important to note that whatever your age, genetics largely determines your pore size. After genetics, pore appearance is most affected by hygiene; neglecting your skincare routine causes oil, dead skin cells and dirt to clog the pores, stretching them out and making them appear larger. The body’s output of pore-clogging oil, known as sebum, varies greatly depending on gender (men are more susceptible) and hormonal factors, including menstruation. The more sebum your body produces, of course, the larger your pores appear.

Changes As You Age

As the years pass, UV rays and other environmental factors cause the skin to lose its elasticity. When this happens, pores clogged with sebum, dirt and dead skin appear to be even larger than before. This is because the skin around each pore is not as firm and collagen-rich as in younger skin. Firm skin essentially girds and supports pores, so it has the effect of making pores appear smaller, while looser, inelastic skin makes pores appear larger or more dilated. As if you didn’t already know, here’s another reminder: use sunscreen year-round to help lessen the effects of UV damage and keep your skin firm even as it ages.

Related Read: 5 Cool Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Pores

So What Can You Do?

Regular exfoliation is key when it comes to battling enlarged pores. Choose an exfoliating pore scrub with an active ingredient like salicylic acid or gylcolic acid to slough away dead skin cells, helping prevent clogged, enlarged pores. If you prefer more natural ingredients, look for clay and fruit enzymes. You can incorporate this into your daily routine or weekly routine. And of course, keep skin as clean as possible without overwashing.

If you have naturally oily skin, use mineral makeups—they can help absorb oil more easily. For any skin type, a face primer is always a good way to fake smaller pores. The CB team loves cult classic Hourglass Mineral Veil, $52. And MyBody Skincare’s SPF, $65, comes with a primer built in.

Products We Love

What other pore minimizing products does the CB team love? Dr. Brandt’s Pore No More, $47,  is a great weekly product to mix into your regimen. It’s an oil-absorbing treatment that helps remove blackheads and balance sebum production. It helps clean up all the dirt that has built up from the week, and you really only need to keep it on for 10 minutes, which makes it easy to slip into your routine. Put it on and watch the gel turn blue and all of your blackheads wash away. DHC’s pore essence, $35, is a great serum specifically targeting your T-Zone. Apply it to this area in the morning after you wash—it’s great for summer months when we tend to look shinier. And if you’re looking for a more natural way to keep pores clean, Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask, $58, is a gel-like mask that works like a peel to eliminate dull and blemished skin cells. It uses pomegranate enzymes and French pink clay to draw out impurities, reducing visible pore size. We love to keep it in the shower and apply right after we get out (when are pores are freshly steamed), leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse. Use 1-3x a week depending on your skin sensitivity.

Related Read: Why Use a Cleansing Oil Even If You Have Oily Skin

At the Dermatologist Office + In The Aesthetician’s Chair

To get blackheads and clogged pores clean, see an experienced aesthetician on a regular basis—ideally monthly, if you can. You can shrink pores permanently with non-ablative laser treatments (like Genesis, Clear & Brilliant or Fraxel), but make sure you see an expert. Other treatments use specialized beams of light that shrink emptied pores by contracting oil-producing sebaceous glands, while still others use a combination of suction, light and topical agents to shrink enlarged pores. Any in-office treatment is nothing without good home maintenance. Remember—the best way to really manage your pore size starts at home with a good cleansing routine and regular use of SPF (we know you know—but sometimes we all need a reminder)!

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Curious about lasers? We tried Clear + Brilliant.
If you’re too worried about your pores, you might have porexia.

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