We learned that pore size was genetically determined. (Darn!) However, dirt, debris, and even sun damage can stretch pores. For decades, dermatologists have turned to chemical peels (glycolic and salicylic acids) to unclog pores. They've also prescribed the antiacne medication Accutane, which shrinks pores by reducing oil glands, but controversy about the drug's safety (it's been linked to birth defects, depression, and suicide) has made that a less popular option today.
At home: New delivery systems for salicylic acid help it penetrate deeper into the pores. Try Avon Anew Rejuvenate Night Revitalizing Cream
, $32. Products with peptide technology strengthen skin around pores so they won't be permanently stretched. Try DDF Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer
, $85, a serum that also contains vitamin B3, said to increase cell renewal, and light-reflecting microparticles for an immediate fix.
At the Doctor's Office:
Chemical peels are still number one. But Bank has also seen a reduction in pore size from Photodynamic Therapy, an acne treatment during which an antibiotic ointment is applied to the skin and accelerated with a light source. Brandt also uses non-ablative lasers (lasers that don't visibly disrupt the surface of the skin) to tighten the skin surrounding the pores.
Doctors hope for a safer oral medication. "If there were some way to modify Accutane to get benefits without the questionable side effects, that would be phenomenal," says Bank.