We’ll say this first: Complain all you want about your pores, but you can’t actually shrink them.

What you can do, however, is to make them look less obvious, said Dr Georgia Lee.

The medical director of the TLC Lifestyle Practice Clinic revealed this in her column in the April issue of Her World Magazine. A reader had asked about the possibility of permanently shrinking enlarged pores on the T-zone.

She gave three reasons why some may find that their pores look “so large” – oil, dirt and sagging skin, as well as tips on how to minimise their appearance.

Dr Lee wrote: “Pores look more prominent when they are clogged with oil and dirt, so exfoliate regularly to reduce the build-up of dead skin cells, and always remove makeup thoroughly.”

“Pores also appear enlarged when skin is saggy, so use skincare with Vitamin A and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) to firm up the skin,” she added.

Following Dr Lee’s tips, we round up both our all-time favourite skincare items and current obsessions to help you keep your pores clean and “tiny”.

#1 CLEANSE PROPERLY
Double cleanse when you’re wearing a full face of makeup. Some sunscreens are best washed off with an oil-based cleanser, too.

Oil obsessed folks will know about the wonders of Shu Uemura’s cleansing oils (if you can’t already tell, we’re impressed). The latest one being the Blanc:Chroma Brightening & Polishing Gentle Cleansing Oil ($55 for 150ml, Shu Uemura stores and counters). It boasts a clarifying clay extract and a mild exfoliant to improve the appearance of surface spots.

Now, the trouble with using cleansing oils is how it can easily trickle down your arm and onto the bathroom floor (messy!) for some. So opt for a gel-to-oil type makeup remover if you have the problem.

Chanel’s Le Blanc Brightening Tri-Phase Makeup Remover ($77, Chanel Fragrance and Beauty stores and counters) is one to try.

Follow up with your regular cleanser. Those with sensitive skin: Remember to opt for gentler formulas like Skin Inc’s Skin-Revival Infusion Cleanser ($82, SkinInc stores, iloveskininc.com, invertededge.com from May), so that you’re not overcleansing and stripping your skin of its natural oils.

#2 EXFOLIATE
Exfoliate your skin about one to two times a week – depending on your skin condition – to prevent any dead skin from clogging your pores.

DrGL’s Cleanser Scrub ($108, drgl.com, Sephora stores and luxola.com) is said have “superfine abradant particles” that are gentle on the skin, and clean effectively. The scrub also has antibacterial, antifungal and calming properties from herbs, aloe barbadensis leaf extract and chamomilla.

#3 FIRM
Saggy skin can give you the appearance of oval-shaped pores, which makes them look larger than normal. Dr Lee advises incorporating vitamin A and AHAs into your routine.

You can do this at any step of your routine, or use it as a treatment product.

Peter Thomas Roth’s Glycolic Acid 10 per cent moisturiser ($81, Sephora stores) is touted to have a gentle, time-release form of glycolic acid to aid cell turnover and help reduce the signs of ageing. The brand says that you can use this daily.

Ren’s Resurfacing AHA Concentrate ($70, luxola.com, escentials and Sephora stores) on the other hand, is meant to be used for a limited period of time – at night for seven consecutive evenings.

Just one thing about using these ingredients: They can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be diligent with your sunscreen!

#4 TREAT
In her column, Dr Lee suggests that some treatments can help to minimise the appearance of your pores, too.

“You can also go for treatments such as intense pulsed light therapy, which reportedly stimulates cell growth and results in a smoother-looking complexion,” says Dr Lee.

But before you jump right into it, book an appointment with your doctor to find out if it’s suitable for you.

So to recap: Cleanse well, exfoliate, nourish and treat your skin proper for the smallest-looking pores, ever.

Photography: Vernon Wong; Art direction: Michelle Tham; Styling: Hong Xinying; Hair and makeup: Dollei Seah, Lydia Thong and Vicky Lee of Makeup Entourage (9111 1919), using Burberry; Model: Lee Soon Young/Nu Models; Dress: COS

Dr Georgia Lee is the founder and medical director of TLC Lifestyle clinic at 27 Lorong Liput Singapore 277738, and she has her own skincare range, DrGL, found in leading departmental stores.