OK, you can’t technically shrink them, but you can make them appear a heck of a lot smaller. Here’s how.
Microdermabrasion: This professional version of at-home exfoliation is a great way to clean out pores—ridding them of the oil, dirt and dead skin cells that can make them look larger.
Lasers: For the most results with the least down time, check out fractional non-ablative lasers (like Fraxel).
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“They cause micro-zones of destruction under the skin,” explains Jocelyn A. Lieb, M.D., of Advanced Dermatology in New Jersey. “And as the skin around them heals, it creates new collagen and elastin which helps tighten the skin and minimize pores.”
Expect to do a series of about six treatments over the course of several months to really make a difference. “Ablative lasers cause more damage, so there’s more downtime,” says Joel Cohen, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology, University of Colorado. “But they can work wonders on the texture of the skin resulting in a much smoother appearance after just one treatment.”
Peels: Whether you try glycolic acid, salicylic acid or a trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel, the improvements in skin texture and pore size will depend on the strength of the peel. The stronger the acid solution, the more effect it will have.
Photodynamic therapy: A product called Allumera—a topical photodynamic cream that’s applied to the skin and activated by different wavelengths of lights—has been shown to reduce the appearance of pores by up to 44 percent. “The interaction of the light and the product helps to reduce the inflammatory process, causing the pores to shrink,” explains Dr. Cohen. And while the results won’t be permanent, after an initial series of three treatments, doing one every few months can help maintain your improved skin texture.
While all of these treatments will help to some extent to keep your skin looking as pore-less as possible, there is no real panacea. “To some extent, you’re stuck with what you’ve got,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NYC. “If your pores are really troubling you, my best advice is to throw out your magnifying mirror!”