Q: Can I shrink pores?

In short: Generally, no. Although lasers, acids, and retinoids can help.

About Pores

Strictly speaking, “pores” is not a precise medical term, and some scientific papers emphasize its inaccuracy. Pores refer to the small openings in the skin through which sweat and sebaceous gland secretions reach the surface. Humans have two types of such openings: sweat pores and sebaceous gland ducts. Sweat pores are tiny and barely visible to the naked eye. Therefore, when we complain about enlarged, clogged pores, we are referring to sebaceous glands.

What Can Be Done About Them

Regarding pore size – nothing. You can’t open or close them like Tinder. Narrow pores, wide pores – it’s a genetic lottery, largely unaffected by external factors. My father had wide pores, and I inherited the same. If your pores have been quite noticeable from a young age, you can’t “erase” them. But you can address age-related changes or excessive sebum production that make pores appear even larger.



Regular retinol is unlikely to make a difference; we’re talking about tretinoin. Studies show that long-term use of retinoids can visually reduce pore size. This is because retinoids can stimulate collagen production (a lack of which creates the appearance of “sunken” pores) and support skin cell renewal (preventing the formation of sebum plugs). Clever!

AHA and BHA Acids

They help renew skin cells, so you can use an acid toner or peel. BHA acid (salicylic acid) also dissolves sebum plugs in the pores. Acids don’t shrink pores – they smooth the skin’s surface and reduce sebum. Cleaned pores will look slightly smaller.


Some cosmetic procedures can also reduce the appearance of pores. For example, laser resurfacing or Fraxel can achieve this by stimulating fibroblasts and boosting collagen synthesis.


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