Caffeine and the Pore Size of the Skin

By Chloé Baudin

Small, tight, barely there pores are one of the hallmarks of beautiful skin. But if Mother Nature didn't bless you with invisible pores, there are still ways to make them appear smaller. Understanding why pores shrink and enlarge and learning about how ingredients such as caffeine can help them appear smaller is the first step to beautiful skin.

Woman using moisturizing cream
credit: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
Applied topically, caffeine can tighten pores, but drinking it can trigger breakouts.

Why Pores Shrink and Grow

The only way to make pores permanently appear smaller is through surgery. But according to California dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey, it's possible to temporarily shrink them. Put simply, pores are like buttons on a pillow: When the skin around the pore is plumped up, the pore will look deeper. To create the illusion of tiny pores, we must de-plump the skin around them. We must also ensure they remain clean because a dirty pore is stretched out and appears larger when it is filled with impurities.

Reducing Pore Size

There are a number of ways to flatten out the skin around the pores. Clay masks draw oil, water and dirt out of your pores, making them less visible. Using an oscillating brush every day when you cleanse your skin is also an effective way to deep-clean the pores so they contract. Additionally, using a cream containing caffeine can also help shrink the pores. When applied topically, caffeine dehydrates the skin, tightening it and making pores appear smaller. This is why the ingredient is used in many cellulite creams as well: It sucks the moisture out of the skin around the cellulite bumps, making the skin appear flatter all around.

DIY Mask

You can use your morning coffee grounds (after they've cooled) to make a mask that can sit on your face while you get ready. Simply mix together one-fourth cup of milk, one tablespoon of coffee grounds and one teaspoon of honey, and spread this onto your cleansed skin. Let it sit for twenty minutes, then rinse.

Clogged Pores and Coffee Consumption

A common assumption is that drinking coffee may cause acne, but scientific research has yet to back this claim. Instead of caffeine directly causing acne, some experts argue that coffee results in heightened anxiety and stress, causing the adrenal glands to increase androgen production. This leads to an amped-up production of skin cells, resulting in clogged pores and acne. For this reason, you may want to try limiting your caffeine intake if you tend to suffer from clogged pores.