Why Pore-Shrinking Products Aren’t Legit

portrait of concerned young girl with clear-up strips on nose

Shrink your pores? Diminish pore size? Make your pores disappear?

We’ve all learned by now that the claims on so-called “pore-shrinking” products are mostly bogus. If you struggle with blackheads, you’ve probably been lured in by at least one of them before. And that’s unfortunate. These ploys blatantly pander to our perpetual desire to achieve perfect skin, touting results that are sadly unrealistic (if not altogether impossible).

WHY DO WE HAVE PORES?

Although it may be frustrating that we can’t make our pores vanish, we wouldn’t want to do that. Our pores are responsible for some vital functions: they release sebum (this is actually a good thing) and sweat (which enables the body to regulate its temperature). Without pores, we’d not only overheat—our skin would be parched, cracked, and scaly. Not a good look.

WHY SO-CALLED PORE-SHRINKING PRODUCTS DON’T WORK?

The size of our pores, much like the size of our nose, is determined by genetics—and while they cannot be shrunken, they can, and often do grow larger as we age. What we certainly can do is improve their appearance by keeping them clear, so that they appear less pronounced.

WHAT SHOULD I AVOID WHEN LOOKING FOR ACNE PRODUCTS?

I used to love pore strips. At one point, I had an unhealthy obsession with them. Seeing those blackheads get sucked up by a virtual vacuum is pretty satisfying. However, if used too often, these same pore strips that provide instant gratification can also disrupt the healthy balance of sebum in the pores and, over time, make them look bigger. Similarly, harsh toners that strip the skin to a squeaky clean state can prompt oil glands to overcompensate. This results in oilier skin and more visible and enlarged pores.