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Home » Shrink Pores With These 10 Science-Backed Skincare Ingredients

Shrink Pores With These 10 Science-Backed Skincare Ingredients

Visible pores are a common problem with few solutions because the size of your pores is typically genetic. However, there are reasons why your pores could look larger than they should, so it may still be possible to shrink them.

Keep reading to discover the best ingredients for pore-perfecting skin. These ingredients have been studied for their ability to reduce the size of your pores either directly or by treating the root causes behind their enlargement.

1. Niacinamide

Niacinamide — also known as vitamin B3 — is a multi-tasking ingredient that helps improve the look of enlarged pores by suppressing the production of excess oil. Niacinamide is an ideal solution if your pores look enlarged due to acne or the amount of sebum your skin produces, as it can help treat both causes of enlarged pores. Try combining niacinamide with azelaic acid for even better acne control.

Studies generally show that niacinamide shrinks pores most effectively after 12 weeks of consistent use. This is a common theme you’ll see with most ingredients listed in this article. The best results come from using specific products daily over long periods.

2. Tretinoin

As far as pore-shrinking ingredients go, few are as effective as the prescription retinoid tretinoin. This anti-aging skincare ingredient can reduce pore size by up to 26% after using the weakest 0.025% cream concentration, according to a study from 2017.

It’s important to note that the study showing this improvement is funded to show a benefit of a particular product containing glycolic acid and a form of retinol. The study shows a 25% reduction in pore size using this product, while retinol alone produces no significant change.

Given that tretinoin isn’t sold by the company that funded the study, financial interests likely don’t influence the results for this compound. Using a low concentration of glycolic acid in the morning and retinol in the evening may help replicate the effects of the product used in the study while being more economical if you don’t have a prescription for tretinoin or your skin is too sensitive to use stronger retinoids.

3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural ingredient known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is particularly effective in helping to unclog pores, which may make them look less visible.

Tea tree oil doesn’t seem to directly affect pore size, unlike other ingredients such as niacinamide or retinoids. However, it may shrink enlarged pores resulting from acne or inflammation. Excess oil, blockages, and swelling all cause pores to stretch, which may result when you treat your skin with tea tree oil.

4. Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can help tighten and tone your skin, making it an excellent ingredient for minimizing the appearance of pores. It works by reducing inflammation and oil production, which can help reduce the size of pores over time by preventing them from being stretched. You’ll generally find it added to toners and cleansers more often than other types of products.

5. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a type of beta-hydroxy acid that is particularly effective in exfoliating your skin. This acne-fighting ingredient can help unclog pores, reducing their visibility to leave your skin looking smoother and clearer.

Weaker salicylic acid formulations should help decrease the size of your pores if they look bigger due to acne or inflammation. Stronger formulations used as chemical peels may be better for other forms of enlarged pores.

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Photo by Ron Lach on

6. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help brighten your skin and improve its overall appearance. It has also been shown to help reduce the visibility of pores by stimulating collagen production and improving your skin’s texture.

The reduction in pore size seen with vitamin C likely results from its ability to help improve collagen synthesis and stabilize existing collagen within your skin. Loss of collagen causes pores to become less tight over time, making them look larger and much more visible.

7. Green Tea

Green tea is full of powerful antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. These antioxidants help reduce free radical damage from the sun and other environmental stressors, protecting your skin from the loss of collagen and elastin.

Green tea and other antioxidants may be most effective for shrinking pores that are enlarged due to photoaging from the sun. The astringent properties of tea may also help tighten your skin temporarily, similarly to witch hazel.

8. Zinc PCA

Zinc PCA is an ingredient often found paired with niacinamide. Both ingredients help normalize your skin’s oil production, while zinc also helps reduce inflammation. Its effects make it great for treating acne and dealing with the enlarged pores that result from blackheads.

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Photo by Anna Shvets on

9. Centella Asiatica

Centella asiatica — also known as cica — is a herbal ingredient with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help soothe acne and minimize pore size, as well as reduce irritation from harsher skincare ingredients such as acids and retinoids.

10. Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is one of the best anti-aging skincare ingredients for many conditions, including wrinkles, photodamage, and sagging. Studies show it reduces pore size and helps your skin feel smoother when used as a chemical peel. It’s known to increase collagen production and boost skin cell renewal, which is believed to be the source of its pore-reducing and anti-aging benefits.

How to Shrink Pores

When it comes to shrinking the appearance of pores, a variety of skincare ingredients can help. From salicylic acid and glycolic acid to retinoids like tretinoin, these effective ingredients can improve the texture and appearance of your skin by removing dead skin cells, unclogging pores, and reducing inflammation. 

Whether you have specific skin concerns or simply want to improve the overall appearance of your complexion, incorporating these ingredients into your skincare routine can help you achieve the smooth, glowing look you want. So, take the time to explore your options and choose the products that work best for you.

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