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10 All-Natural Ways To Make Your Pores Appear Smaller

If your pores are larger than you'd like, these 10 tips can totally help you out.

Beauty & Fashion

If you've ever wondered what your pores actually are, they are tiny holes all over your body that house hair follicles. Within each pore, there is a sebaceous gland that holds the oil that our body naturally produces. If you've also wondered why it seems like you barely see your pores on places like your arms and legs but sometimes they can seem big as all get out on your forehead, cheeks and nose, that's because our sebaceous glands are larger there (which also explains why we tend to experience more breakouts on those parts of our body).

I don't know about you but, ever since I can remember, I've had some relatively large pores, especially on my face. It used to really annoy me until I discovered that 1) they oftentimes happen when you've got naturally oily skin (which isn't a bad thing if you keep the oil in check because oil can help to slow down the aging process), and 2) one way to prevent them from looking even larger is to not pick at pimples (because that can further damage your pores). Once that information was downloaded into my brain and I started taking better care of my skin, my pores appeared smaller over time.

So, what are some of the things that I do to keep my pores from showin' out? Below are 10 that are easy, all-natural and sure to keep your pores smaller-looking too.

1. Exfoliate

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Any time skincare tips come up, you're gonna be hard-pressed to not see exfoliation on the list. That's because exfoliating removes dead skin cells which leads to an even skin tone, a smoother skin texture, skin detoxification, less breakouts and definitely, unclogged pores. When your pores are filled with sebum, dirt and other gunk, not only can it stretch your pores out, it can block your pores and create inflammation which can make your pores look a lot larger too. That's why you should make it a point and practice to exfoliate your skin, no less than a couple of times each week. Click here for tips on how to make your own body scrub and here for tips on how to make your own chemical peel.

2. DIY a Toner

Although some skincare experts consider toner to be an optional tip, I find the benefits to be valid enough that I decided to add them to this list. Toner is simply a liquid-based way to rebalance your skin. When you use it regularly, toner is able to remove impurities, hydrate your skin, soothe any skin irritation you might have, speed up the healing process of pimples and even prevent premature aging. Because it's able to do all of this, your pores can remain healthy which can also keep them looking smaller.

When I tone my skin, I typically use witch hazel; it contains properties that heal the skin as it relieves irritation, reduces inflammation and deep cleanses pores. If you want to give your skin an extra treat, add a half-teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (it's an exfoliant in liquid form) and a few drops of lavender essential oil (it's a skin soother that has antifungal properties in it). Either apply the toner with a couple of cotton balls or put it into a spray bottle to give your skin a light mist.

3. Apply a Clay Mask

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If your skin is naturally oily, that can stretch your pores out over time. Something that you can do to keep the sebum that you produce in check is to apply a clay mask once a week. Not only will it reduce the amount of oil that you have, it can also draw out impurities which will prevent your pores from clogging up (which also stretches them). A mask that I personally like is bentonite clay. It's cheap, it's effective and it's something that you can easily apply to your face or your entire body (by sprinkling some of it into your bath water). You can get tips—and benefits—for applying this mask, click here.

4. Moisturize Daily

There are a lot of reasons why it's important to moisturize your skin on a daily basis. It protects your skin from dirt, dust and debris. It seals in the moisture that your skin already has. It makes up for some of the hydration that your skin might've lost too. Another thing that moisturizing does is keep your skin from drying out, which can also lead to larger pores. How? Well, when your skin gets too dry, what your body typically does is automatically produce more sebum. If your pores end up with too much of it, that can cause them to become bigger. This is why you should definitely make sure to apply some moisturizer to your face and neck, every day and evening. Personally, I'm all about using a light layer of sweet almond oil, but if you need a little help picking a moisturizer out (check out the article, "Best Face Moisturizer For Black Skin In 2020". It's got some pretty cool referrals.)

5. Give Yourself a Vitamin C and Aloe Vera Treatment

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Aloe vera contains vitamins A and C, antioxidants, enzymes, glucomannans, amino acids, lipids, sterols and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it's made up of between 98-99 percent water which makes it an awesome way to hydrate your skin while soothing your pores at the same time. Vitamin C builds your immune system, detoxifies your body, helps you to produce more collagen and also helps to break down the bacteria that could clog up your pores and ultimately stretch them out. If you grate and then blend a medium-sized orange with two tablespoons of 100 percent pure Aloe Vera gel, it can serve as a pore-protecting remedy. Just apply it to your freshly washed face, let it penetrate for 15 minutes and thoroughly rinse off with cool water.

6. Make Your Own Primer

If you're trying to make your pores appear smaller while you've got a full face of make-up on, something that you might want to do is apply a primer, right after washing, toning and moisturizing your skin but right before applying your foundation. Basically what a primer does is make your skin appear extra smooth so that your make-up glides on like butter.

As far as commercial brands go, a lot of primers contain silicone (which is a good base ingredient). But if you'd prefer to make some of your own, mixing one-part Aloe vera with one-part moisturizer will do the trick. Oh, and you might want to go easy on bronzers too; they tend to draw attention to pores rather than minimize them.

7. Use Sunscreen

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It really can't be said enough that, just because we as Black women are blessed to have more melanin in our skin, that doesn't mean that UV rays still can't do a real number to it over time. One of the main ways it does is it causes free radicals to not only break down our skin's natural elastin, but make our pores appear larger than they actually are. That's why it's so important to make it a priority to apply sunscreen; not just during the summer season but all year long.

8. Try a Little Fresh Papaya

If you apply some papaya on your skin, it'll love it! Thanks to the Vitamin A and papain enzyme that's this particular fruit, papaya is able to remove dead skin cells, revive tired skin and keep it hydrated, all at the same time. All you need to do is mash up one-half of a papaya and add three spoons of honey to it (honey is a deep cleanser and a humectant at the same time). After washing your face, apply the mask and let it sit on your face for 10 minutes. Then rinse, tone and moisturize. It will help to shrink your pores while giving you a natural glow at the same time.

9. Eat More Collagen

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Something that happens to us as we age is our body produces less and less collagen. Collagen is a protein that produces structure to our bones, ligaments and yes, our skin. When collagen is lacking, it can cause our skin to sag, wrinkles to form and yep, you guessed it, pores to widen. There are collagen supplements that you can take to give your system an extra dose. Or, if you'd prefer, you can add more collagen to your diet via collagen-rich foods. Some that top the list include citrus fruits, berries, bone broth, leafy greens, cashews, chicken and seafood.

10. Keep Your Hands Off of Your Face

If there's any tip that has me out here preaching to the choir, it would be this one. If you're someone who constantly has your hands on your face to pick pimples, not only is that delaying the healing process but it could cause the bacteria that's in one pimple to literally spill over into some of your skin's other pores. In fact, having your hands all over your face, in general, can spread bacteria, fill up your pores and cause them to stretch out and become larger. So, unless you are washing and/or moisturizing your face, be intentional about leaving it totally alone. It's a surefire way to make your pores, not only appear smaller, but so much healthier too.

Do you have a beauty, wellness or self-care find that you've tried recently and want to share your experience? Join the xoTribe members community to connect with other beauty lovers and share your wins with the tribe.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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