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What Can I Do to Shrink My Pores?

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Question: What Can I Do to Shrink My Pores?
Dear Budget Style Guide,

I have huge pores. Like, enormous. I don't have a lot of problems with acne, and in fact, my skin gets pretty dry, especially in the winter. I'd have good skin, except for the fact that my nose essentially looks like a strawberry. What can I do to fix the situation?

Thanks,

Heather M.

Answer: Dear Heather,

I have good news and bad news. Bad news first: there's absolutely nothing you can do to shrink your pores, and as the expression goes, anyone who tells you differently is selling something. The good news is that there's a lot you can do to make your pores look smaller -- and in beauty, appearances are reality.

Because you mention that you have dry skin as well as large pores, I'm assuming that you have combination skin. If so, welcome to my personal torment. The difficulty with having combo skin is that you need to clean your skin, without over-drying it, and moisturize it, without clogging up those pores you've meticulously cleaned.

Our excellent Skin Care Guide Jen Adkins has a great piece on how to minimize the appearance of large pores, but the first and most important thing to know is that you should never, ever squeeze your pores. It's satisfying, but ultimately, it will only make the situation worse by damaging the pores and forcing dirt and oil deeper into your skin. As Jen says, "let the products work for you."

The first step is to choose a good cleanser. Many experts recommend gel-based cleansers for combination skin. If your nose, forehead, and chin, are still oily, you can try a toner or astringent -- but don't feel that you have to use these products if cleansing already dries your skin. I also like to use an over-the-counter product with salicylic acid when my pores are looking particularly rough. It helps speed cell turnover and exfoliate your skin.

The next step in your daily routine is moisturizing. You want an oil-free product, so that you're not adding to the shine situation.

That's it for the daily process. Now for my favorite part: On a weekly basis, try either pore strips or a clay mask. There are lots of great products on the market in both categories, but my current favorites are Biore Pore Strips and Review: Kiss My Face Pore Shrink Deep Cleansing Mask.

Some beauty experts will also recommend a retinoid, but I don't personally like them, as they tend to redden my skin. My feeling is that if I have to choose between a few visible pores and wrinkles and reddened skin, I'll take the pores and wrinkles. They're easier to cover.

Speaking of which, if you don't already use a primer, it's worth giving it a shot. I use one instead of foundation or tinted moisturizer most days, and find it works wonders for disguising pores and creating a natural look. You can also try one of the new BB creams that are flooding onto the marketplace.

Finally, I'll mention in passing that an aesthetician told me years ago that if I stopped drinking caffeine, my pores would look better. I have no idea if this was true, because I would rather have pores large enough to swallow planets than give up my coffee. PRIORITIES.

Anyway, by the time you're done with your revised routine, it won't matter that you can't actually shrink pores. No one will be able to tell the difference.

Hope that helps,

Jen

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