Celebs and models always look so gorgeously pore-less in the photos staring out at us from their magazine covers.

One word: Airbrushing.

Yes, they have pores just like the rest of us mere mortals. And they probably obsess about them just as much, too. But having pores is a non-negotiable part of having skin. “You need to have them because they are essential to skin function,” says Jocelyn A. Lieb, M.D., of Advanced Dermatology in New Jersey.

Why, Pores—WHY?

Pores are the connections from your sebaceous glands and hair follicles to the surface of the skin—without those openings, hair would have no place to sprout out from and the oil that’s necessary to lubricate your skin would never find its way to the surface.

pores main button

Your pore size is partly a matter of genetics (so, yes, you can blame your parents!) and partly due to whatever is currently trapped inside of them. “If you have a lot of oil or dead skin cells accumulating in your pores, that can stretch them out and make them look bigger,” explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NYC.

Baggy Saggy Pores

And, as with most skin-related problems, the appearance of your pores can get worse thanks to the double whammy of sun exposure and aging. Both have a negative impact on collagen and elastin—the two components of your skin’s structural support system. Exposure to ultraviolet rays creates molecules called free radicals that destroy your existing collagen and elastin. And one of the natural effects of getting older is that production of new collagen slows down.

The combined effect means that what’s being damaged daily by sun exposure isn’t being repaired and rebuilt quickly enough.  “When you lose support around your pores—because of a loss of collagen and elastin—they start to sag and look larger,” says Zeichner.