Photo: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
Enlarged pores can make the otherwise-smooth canvas of your skin look like you have tiny potholes all over it. Whether or not you can shrink these pores depends upon why you have them in the first place. If you have excess oil buildup because of a lack of TLC for your skin -- like not washing your makeup off or never exfoliating -- you may be able to reduce your pores through products that help to soak up the extra oil. If your large pores are a genetic-hand-me down, you can't shrink them -- but you can cover them.
Sometimes enlarged pores can be the result of excess gunky buildup. Think of them like a huge purse -- the more you put into it, the larger they become. One way to get the oil and dirt out of your pores and help them look smaller is through using an exfoliating scrub designed to zap oil and remove dead skin cells. "Cosmopolitan" magazine recommends Biore Pore Minimizing Refining Exfoliator, for ultimate pore gunk removal.
Vitamin A isn't just a supplement -- topical forms can be applied to your skin to reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines and blemishes. Topical vitamin A is often called retinol or retinoids. These products can help your pores appear smaller. "Glamour" magazine recommends using Clinique's Zero Gravity Repairwear Lift, which contains retinol to remove dead skin cells from your pores. If you need something stronger, prescription treatments such as Retin-A, Tazorac and Differin are available, according to Dr. Audrey Kunin, a dermatologist writing on DERMAdoctor, a beauty and skincare resource.
If your foundation isn't slipping on as smoothly as it used to, a primer can come to your rescue. Primers use ingredients that create a smooth, yet glue-like surface between your skin and your makeup, helping makeup last longer. Another benefit of primers is that they helps to fill in enlarged pores -- think of them as spackling compound for your pores. "Allure" magazine recommends trying Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch primer, which is designed to fill in large pores. While you may have to let some primers "soak" in for a few minutes before using, "Allure" writer Jessica Matlin said she likes the Clarins primer because you don't have to wait to apply your foundation.
There is a whole subset of products out there designed specifically with pores in mind. Look for labels that read "pore minimizers" -- this signifies the beauty product contains ingredients such as glycolic, salicylic, lactic or citric acids -- all of which help to encourage cell turnover to make your pores appear smaller. These products can act as moisturizers or are worn under makeup to do their magic during your day.