Can You Really Shrink Your Pores? A Dermatologist Explains All 

Can You Really Shrink Your Pores? A Dermatologist Explains All 
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The short answer? Not really, says Danbury, Connecticut based dermatologist Mona Gohara. But by keeping pores clear and stimulating collagen production, you can make them look smaller.

At home, Dr. Gohara advises using an activated charcoal mask once a week, like Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding Intensive Wash-off Treatment ($38; sephora.com). "Activated charcoal can absorb up to 200 times its weight in impurities and is able to rid the skin of oil, debris and pollutants that dilate pores," says Dr. Gohara.

At the dermatologist's office, Dr. Gohara suggests her pore-concerned patients get microdermabrasion, a gentle exfoliation of skin's outermost layer that, in addition to unclogging, "has a plumping effect on the complexion that pushes on the perimeter of each pore, making them appear smaller."

A retinoid works in a similar way, Dr. Gohara adds. "By increasing collagen production," these vitamin A-derived ingredients—whether over-the-counter retinol or prescription retinoid acid lke Retin-A—tighten the diameter of pores, which doesn't necessarily shrink them, but makes them less noticeable. Prescription retinoic acid also has the ability to keep skin un-clogged (that's why it's often prescribed for acne), another pore-minimizing talent.

In a pinch, though, there's always makeup: a silicone-based primer, like Peter Thomas Roth Pore Putty ($38; sephora.com), instantly blurs both pores and fine lines, leaving skin looking naturally flawless.

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