Sorry—You Can’t Shrink Your Nose Pores, but Here’s What You Can Do Instead

Photo: Getty Images / Catherine Falls Commercial

Having a pronounced nose like mine means one thing: a lifelong battle with nose pores. As soon as I was old enough to discover skincare, I raided every drugstore counter in sight for exfoliating pads and witch hazel on a mission to learn how to shrink nose pores

Fast-forward to starting my career as a beauty editor. I'd get in rooms with dermatologists, and the first thing I'd inquire about is how to shrink nose pores. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't erase them on my own. But then I learned that the reality is: you can't actually get rid of nose pores. They're a normal part of skin, just like lines, crevices, bumps, and wrinkles.

Experts In This Article

Still, there's a silver lining. While erasing nose pores is damn near impossible, you can certainly tighten them back to their original size and make them look less visible. Ahead, we spoke to board-certified dermatologists Hadley King, MD, Michelle Henry, MD, and Rose Marie Ingleton, MD, for their tips on shrinking nose pores.

What are nose pores?

Nose pores are tiny openings on the surface of the nose. They are part of the skin's sebaceous system, which ultimately produces and releases sebum (a type of oil that keeps the skin moisturized and protected from external elements). Every human has pores, which are a normal part of the skin's structure. Pore sizes and structures vary by person, but those on the nose are typically larger than those on other areas of the skin.

Your pores are a big indicator of your skin type, and their size and how frequently they get clogged can tell you a lot about how much oil your skin produces. "Oily and acne-prone skin types often have more visible pores," says Dr. King. People with combination skin might feel their pores are more prominent and clogged around the nose area, and dry skin types might feel their pores more tight.

Because the pores on your nose are inherently larger than other pores, they can appear more noticeable, especially if they become clogged. However, before you deep sigh, there are many things you can do to clear your pores and make them less visible.

What causes nose pores to appear larger?

"Pore size is largely determined by genetics, and there's no way to truly change the size of your pores," Dr. King says. This is why you may notice that your nose pores are larger than those of other people. But genetics isn't the only factor contributing to your nose pores' appearance. 


As you age, your skin loses collagen (also normal), which can make your pores more noticeable. "Your pores may also appear larger as you age because your skin loses elasticity and sags around the pores." Dr. Ingleton explains.


Think of your skin as maintaining a garden. Exfoliating removes dry leaves and debris, which is necessary to keep your skin healthy and vibrant. Experts generally recommend exfoliating twice a week to clean your pores. Dr. King likes Beekman 1802 Pore Minimizing Facial Toner ($22), which you can use with a cotton pad to buff off dead skin. "This has lactic acid, to gently exfoliate, and humectants and emollients hydrate and plump the skin," Dr. King says, which in turn can help pores look less visible over time. 


According to Dr. King, hormonal imbalances and stress can lead to excess oil and sebum production, making pores appear larger. "This may lead to other skin issues like blackheads or acne," she says.

Can you actually shrink nose pores?

Sorry, you can't change the size of your pores, but you can use products and treatments to tighten them back to their OG size. Regular cleansing and exfoliation can also help keep your pores clean, and using ingredients like salicylic and lactic acids can help smooth and exfoliate your skin.

How to unclog nose pores

When your nose pores become clogged and congested with dirt, oils, or dead skin cells, bacteria can thrive (which means possible breakouts, which we don't want). The best way to keep your pores clean? Regular cleansing and exfoliating and the tips ahead. 


Happy pores start with a good cleanse, so use a gentle face wash to remove surface oils. This will prepare your skin for exfoliating and active ingredients in your treatment products. A personal favorite? La Roche Posay Purifying Foaming Face Wash ($17), which creates a nice lather to wash away buildup. Niacinamide and ceramides prevent your pores from feeling sandpapery afterward.


Chemical exfoliators (think: AHAs, BHAs, or enzymes) can help remove dead skin cells and oils that can cause clogging. You can also use an exfoliating brush (or pad) once weekly to physically exfoliate and prevent dead skin cells and debris from setting up shop on your face. To take things a step further, you can use an at-home microdermabrasion device, like PMD Personal Microderm Classic ($159), which has an attachment that can also help sop up dirt from clogged pores. Keep in mind that at-home exfoliation tools (even things like nose strips) can work wonders to help clean up pores, however, they can also make the treatment area drier than usual, so use them sparingly and keep your skin moisturized. 

Incorporate a mask

A clay or charcoal mask works wonders on combination or oily skin by helping pull out some clogged dirt and oils. Depending on your skin type, you can use a clay mask up to three times a week.


You shouldn't skimp out on moisturizer even if clogged pores are your concern. Keeping your skin moisturized can help prevent excess oil production which, in turn, can lead to clogged pores. Instead, use a lightweight formula that won't feel sticky or heavy on your face.

Use Salicylic Acid

"Salicylic acid is an excellent pore-clearing ingredient because it exfoliates the skin's surface and goes deeper to remove oil from pores," Dr. King shares." Derms love sal-acid for oily, acne-prone skin, and Dr. King said it's often recommended for treating blackheads and whiteheads. Of course, if you're interested in adding salicylic acid (or any acid for that matter) into your routine, check in with your dermatologist ahead of time.

Treatments for shrinking nose pores

If topical products aren't cutting it, you do have some options—but—they'll require a professional. You can talk to your dermatologist about lasers, peels, and prescription retinol to help the exfoliation process.


"Lasers like Morpheus 8 or radio-frequency devices can help stimulate collagen," Dr. Michelle Henry explains. If pores are like a draw-string bag, stimulating collagen is like pulling the strings closed by crowding the collagen around the pore."


Dr. Henry says that injectables can also be an effective option. "If you're looking to reduce pores, I'd most likely use lasers and not injectables," she says. "However, there is AQUAGOLD Botox, a vial with gold-tipped needles that help infuse Botox into the skin. That can help reduce the appearance of pores."

Chemical Peels

Dr. Henry also says that chemical peels can help reduce the appearance of nose pores. "By removing the top layer of skin, they reveal a smoother, softer texture beneath, which makes pores look smaller and improves overall skin health," she says


Your dermatologist can advise on whether prescription retinol suits your skin and routine. You can also use an over-the-counter retinoid formula to help exfoliate and decrease pore size."Topical retinoids help to stimulate collagen production and also help to clear out pores, which can, therefore, help to minimize their appearance," Dr. King explains.

Final takeaway

Nose pores are an unavoidable part of reality and your skin's natural structure, so, sorry, friends, there's no way to eliminate them. Still, you can do a handful of things to shrink nose pores back to their original size and make them look less obvious. Regular exfoliating and powerful actives will be your pore-tightening friends. And if those don't cut it? You have in-office options. 

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