Having Visible Pores On Your Face Is Okay, And Science Agrees

Pores. We all have them, but we don't all want them. And what is that about? We know they're an intrinsic and vital part of the skin all over our bodies, but we act as if we'd rather exist like the smooth-skinned, walking, talking skincare advert people. It seems like we're constantly trying to hide the appearance of pores with special creams, tons of makeup, photo filters, and even Photoshop when all else fails. We'll do crazy things like end our shower with ice-cold water to close up the pores that our deliciously hot water kindly opened up for us. Or we'll grab ice cubes first thing in the morning to rub all over our faces. Every few months, the skincare side of social media will come up with new hacks for keeping your pores in check. Pores, as far as the world is concerned, are evil.


But are they really? Here's what we know about pores, and exactly why they have a right to remain on your face and be treated with love.

What do pores do, exactly?

Let's start from the beginning. What are pores? Essentially, they are small openings in the skin (usually hair follicles) out of which sweat and oil are released. More than inconvenient, this is functional. The oil created by the sebaceous glands is meant to create a thin layer that moisturizes and maintains a healthy skin barrier, while sweat is simply meant to cool your body and face.


According to Buckhead Dermatology, there are two types of pores: oil pores and sweat pores. Oil (or sebum) pores are the ones more likely to get clogged, which often results in the appearance of enlarged pores, blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of acne. Sweat pores, on the other hand, don't tend to get clogged. In fact, they are so small that you couldn't see them if you tried, and their only purpose is to provide a release for the sweat glands.

Why do they appear larger on some people?

We get it, they're there for a reason. But why are they more visible on some people's skin? Well, it turns out there are legitimate explanations for this.

One of them, as mentioned above, is that oil pores have a tendency to get plugged up (via Buckhead Dermatology). For those whose skin is on the oilier side, this is likely due to an overproduction of sebum. For others (oily skin or not), it might be caused by a buildup of oil, dirt, makeup, and dead skin cells. This buildup will not only stretch the pores, but it might also cause different types of acne and blackheads.


A third reason for enlarged pores is genetics. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Azadeh Shirazi (Skin By Dr. Azi on Youtube), pore size is genetic. She stresses that you can't change your pores, but you can minimize them. Pore size might be predetermined by hereditary traits, but we can certainly control the conditions that aggravate their enlargement.

How to best take care of your pores at home

To help with the look of pores at home, a good and consistent skincare routine is key. If you're concerned about clogged pores, begin with a simple regimen and add a few products that specifically target the pores. A gentle cleanser, a niacinamide serum or a salicylic acid spot treatment, and a good moisturizer is a good starter routine. If your clogged pores are due to a build-up of dead skin, using a gentle exfoliator (physical or chemical) a few days a week can do a world of good.


Dermatologists recommend cleansing and moisturizing regularly, meaning at least once a day but preferably once in the morning and once at night. If your skin concerns are pore-related, this is especially important. Looking for non-comedogenic face products is also critical to a skincare routine that won't exacerbate the issue. Non-comedogenic products are intentionally formulated with ingredients that will not clog your pores (via Cleveland Clinic).

When do big pores become an issue?

Once we all come to understand that pores just want what is best for us, they really don't seem so evil. Even at their biggest and most visible. All they really require is regular cleansing (and less hate). But, just in case that doesn't work, we should definitely be asking: Can they become a real cause for concern? 


If you have implemented a consistent skincare routine that keeps in mind your unique skin type and pore concerns but are still experiencing problems, this might be an issue. Clogged pores, noticeable blackheads, and even painful acne are a cry for help from your skin. In that case, seeing your dermatologist is crucial. Sometimes even our best attempts at self-care can be misguided, and only the helping hand of an expert can correct the issue. Dermatologists know what they're doing, so don't hesitate to ask for their educated advice.

Dr. Shirazi, for example, suggests in-office treatments for stubbornly large pores, such as microneedling and laser resurfacing.