It’s normal for your pores to be visible, especially in oily areas like your chin, nose, and forehead. But that probably doesn’t make you feel any better about those itty-bitty craters dotting your T-zone. So how can you make them appear smaller?
Unfortunately, you can't "shrink" your pores—that would be like trying to shrink your shoe size. "Your pores are your pores. Their size isn't changeable," says Dr. Robin Evans, a dermatologist at SoCo Dermatology in Connecticut. But you can take a few simple steps to unclog your pores and make them way less noticeable!
Keep your pores clear.
When you’re rushing in the morning or tired after a long day, it can be tempting to slack on your skincare routine. But dirt and oil build-up can clog your pores and actually enlarge them, so it's important to wash daily with a pore-clearing cleanser—ideally one that contains retinoids, which are super-effective for unclogging pores. "Keeping your pores clean will make them less obvious," Dr. Evans says.
Peel with caution.
While it may be weirdly satisfying to stare at a dirty pore strip, they can damage your skin if you’re sensitive. "Pore strips can be helpful, but they can also irritate the skin when they’re peeled off,” Dr. Evans says. Instead, she recommends looking for a gentler peel or mask that contains glycolic acid.
Protect your skin.
As you get older, your skin loses some of its elasticity—and when that happens, gravity can cause saggy skin and stretched-out pores. And while that’s probably not at the top of your list of things to worry about right now, certain habits—like smoking and tanning—can cause your skin to age way faster than it should. Keep your skin protected (and your pores as is) by using SPF daily and hydrating your skin with an oil-free moisturizer.
You may be tempted to squeeze the gunk out of your pores, but that can cause them to get inflamed or infected—and nothing makes your pores more noticeable than an oozing red zit. According to Dr. Evans, "The best way to unclog pores is to have a professional extract them.” If that's not an option, let your cleanser—NOT your fingernails—do the unclogging.
Choose the right foundation.
You may not be able to shrink your pores, but the right makeup can practically make them disappear. "Mineral makeup is helpful for camouflage," Dr. Evans says. Opt for a powder foundation, which settles into your pores and gives your skin a smooth texture.
This article originally appeared on Seventeen.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.