Free U.S. Shipping Over $125


Your Cart is Empty

5 Steps To Smaller Pores


I've been right there with you.


So I decided to do some research! The following are the five ingredients I've tried that have helped me the most. I've also included links to stuff that I made that has enhanced the best effects of these ingredients.

Before we begin though, let me level with you: you don't want to erase your pores completely! You need your pores as they help your skin to breathe. Also, while you can't actually change the size of your pores, you can minimize their appearance.

These are the five magic ingredients that helped me to minimize pores: 1) Oil, 2) Charcoal and Clay, 3) Acids, 4) Manual Exfoliation and 5) Retinol. Read on to find out why they work so well.

Oil Needs Oil--Who Knew?

1) OIL

You may know that oily skin is prone to larger looking pores. This is because when excess sebum gets trapped in your pores, it inflames your pores which physically expands them (and can lead to the formation of blackheads, whiteheads and other ickies). You've also probably been told that to manage this, you should keep your pores as clean as possible.

What you may not have been told, however, is that in order to really deep clean your pores,

you need an oil-based cleanser.

Why? Because sebum is oil based! When you apply a typical water-based foaming cleanser to your face, you aren't actually dislodging the clogged oil in your pores, because water and oil don't mix. To get the excess oil out of your skin, you need oil--because oil attracts oil.

When you use an oil cleanser, you'll find that after a while those icky under the skin lumps will start to ease themselves out, leaving you with smoother, clearer skin--and smaller pores! Sometimes those skin lumps are even tactile--what the skincare community likes to call "grits" because they feel like little bumps of grits on your skin when they emerge!

Summary: to really vacuum clean your skin, you need an oil cleanser. My recommendation? Our Vacuum Cleaner Cleansing Oil, which one of our reviewers insisted caused all her clogs to emerge, to the point where she was playing "Whack-A-Mole" with her clogged sebum! Also, if you have oily skin, you must follow up with a water-based foaming cleanser to really get out all the ickies at once. This two-step cleanse is known in Korean beauty as "double cleansing."

Charcoal & Clay: The Deep Cleaners


The next step to vacuum cleaning your skin is integrating charcoal and clay products into your routine.  

Activated Charcoal is an extremely popular beauty ingredient because it binds with dirt and toxins to pull them out of your skin. It's actually charcoal that has been heat-treated to make it more porous, thereby increasing its absorbency. This increased porousness allows it to more deeply bond with all the impurities, effectively dislodging it when you rinse it all off. Deep cleansing your skin this way makes your pores appear smaller as it is often the dirt that makes them look larger.

Clayis another critical ingredient because it draws out water and oil from your skin, which causes a "tightening" sensation and makes your pores appear smaller, thereby refining your skin tone and texture.

My recommendations: Our Got Grits? set,featured in Allure Magazine, which contains both an oil cleansing balm and the Bethany charcoal (and clay!) mask, and our Rose foaming cleanser, which contains pink Kaolin clay.


Acids are also known as chemical exfoliants. They help your skin turnover more quickly, by encouraging your skin to shed the top layer of dead skin, revealing the new skin underneath (and thereby making your pores look smaller)! Acids can however be drying to skin, so I'd advise you to start slow and experiment.

My recommendations are drawn from the Sabbatical Beauty collection, which uses a very gentle form of acid, mitigating acid's drying effects. One is the Bethany Charcoal Mask, which contains a fruit acid alpha-hydroxy acid mix (bonus, it also has charcoal and clay so you clear out step #2) at the same time; and our Beauty Water with Rose, Lavender and Silk, which contains a mix of tropical fruit enzymes to turn over dead skin cells quickly.

So far, you've learned how to shrink pores with oil cleansing, clay and charcoal, and the use of acids. Have you ever tried any of these methods?

but wait, there's more!


Adeline Koh, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Sabbatical Beauty, a small-batch, handcrafted Korean-beauty influenced company based in Philadelphia, PA. Sabbatical Beauty has been featured in media outlets like Allure, Slate, Shape and many more.



  • Our products contain higher percentages of active ingredients than the majority of products on the market. This means you can see amazing differences very quickly, and with only a scant amount of product.
  • Our products are manufactured in-house by a small team of women in Philadelphia, PA, in small batches, with love.
  • Our products are never tested on animals, just Adeline and Sabbatical Beauty employees.
  • Everyone who works for Sabbatical Beauty earns a living wage.


  • Our stuff works. And works quickly, period. And we sell sample sizes, so you don't need to commit a lot financially to test if a product works for your individual skin chemistry.
  • Our mission as a feminist company is not to sell you skincare as something that you need, but rather a routine that will help you with prioritizing yourself and own needs for self-care.
  • Our products come with an amazing, supportive Facebook community of people always willing to help, even in issues outside of skincare.
  • We have a generous thirty day returns and refunds policy.