Natural Ways to Shrink Pores

When you think about how to shrink pores naturally, images of face masks and scrubs may come to mind. With so many remedies out there, it’s hard to know what’s actually effective, and what’s hype.

Firstly, we need to look at what causes enlarged pores so we can get to the root cause and have symptom relief.

What Are Pores?

Sweat, pimples, blackheads…our pores make a lot of things. When people talk about reducing the size of pores though they mean sebaceous glands, not sweat glands.

Our sebaceous glands (aka skin pores) make sebum. This oily sebum helps moisturize skin, keeping it soft and supple. Different factors can make our pores seem larger and more obvious.

What Causes Enlarged Pores?

There’s a whole lot of speculation, but here’s what we do know. Factors like age, ethnicity, and health play a role in pore size.


A 2018 article “Facial Skin Pores: A Multiethnic Study,” looked at the differences between women of different races to compare pore size. Chinese and Japanese women have significantly lower pore density. These women had 5-8 times less pore density than any other ethnic group.

By far Indian and Brazilian women had the most noticeable pores. Caucasian women came in slightly behind the Indian women. However, Asian women by far won the least noticeable pores award.


It’s often said pore size increases with age, but that’s not exactly true. While pore density does vary some with age, the differences are usually insignificant. Our ethnicity and genetics play a much bigger role in pore size than our age.

However, skin damage does make pores more visible, and skin damage increases with age.

A 2017 study in Skin Research and Technology notes that while women don’t get larger pores or more pores with age, the shape does change from round to oval.

Hormone Imbalance

Hormones control many functions in the body, from fertility, to growth, to skin changes. As we age, decreasing estrogen results in skin damage and thinning. The epidermal layer gets thinner and dead skin cells stick around longer.

This doesn’t just affect older women though. Hormone imbalance contributes to early signs of aging skin, acne, and other skin issues that make pores more noticeable.

A Good and a Bad Thing

Another hormone, insulin like growth factor (IGF-1), is key to a healthy body. However, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Too much IGF-1 is linked to a shorter lifespan, cancer risk, and other serious issues.

According to a 2010 article in Archives of Dermatological Research, IGF-1 may also affect pores. An overabundance of IGF-1 can make facial pores more noticeable by affecting the skin’s epidermis.

Overall Health

We are what we eat and that includes our skin. Inflammatory foods contribute to hormone imbalance and oxidative damage. Both can wreck skin health. Free radical damage to skin breaks down the collagen and elastin we need for smooth, healthy skin.

Choosing healthy, whole foods not only makes us feel better, but our skin looks better too.

Can You Really Shrink Your Pores?

Yes, and no. Pore size is largely determined by genetics, but what we eat, drink and put on our skin affects our skin’s health. While we can’t technically shrink pores, we can tighten, tone, and reduce the appearance of your pores.

Let’s take a look at some of the commonly recommended treatments for shrinking pores.

Glycolic Acid and Chemical Peels

Conventional solutions include chemical creams to reduce the appearance of large pores. Chemical peels are another option. And yes, it’s exactly like iit sounds. Chemical acids are applied to the face to burn off the top layer(s) of skin.

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