If you’ve been searching for the best pore minimizer, then you’ve come to the right place. Large, visible pores constitute one of the most frequently expressed skin concerns. If you have oily skin, they’ve probably been an annoyance your whole life, while some of you are only noticing them now that your skin is showing those first signs of loss of tone.
There are no miracle solutions to physically shrinking the pores, but there are certainly lots of useful practices that will help refine your skin, as well as makeup primers that’ll make it look airbrushed.
We’ve selected the 21 best pore minimizers on the market, covering both primers and skin care so you can enjoy both instant results and long-term solutions. We then explain what the causes of large pores are, and you’ll be surprised that it’s not just about skin types. I’ll let you know which product I consider effective pore minimizers, and conclude with a definitive list of habits and practices you can pick up to shrink pores effectively.
Pore Minimizer Guide to Shrink Pores: Contents
- 21 Best Pore Minimizers That Really Work
- What Causes Large Pores?
- What Is a Pore Minimizer?
- How to Shrink Pores Effectively
I know you want results, so here are the best pore minimizers you can try when building your routine!
1. Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer
This cult-favorite makeup primer is also the best pore minimizer for when you need a quick fix. It is made with silicones that are able to fill in the pores and blur them out of existence – at least for the day. You can wear it alone for a complexion boost, or under makeup in which case it’ll help your foundation glide on effortlessly and prevent it from settling in pores or fine lines. It also offers some shine control, which is great if you have oily skin. Buy it at Sephora!
2. Lancer Skincare Studio Filter Pore Perfecting Primer
This pore minimizing primer also has some lovely skin benefits, especially for those with both pore and age-related concerns. First and foremost, however, it is a lightweight, silicone formula for instant pore shrinking and wrinkle minimizing effects, but without mattifying. In fact, it offers the skin a bit of glow! It also contains a variety of plant extracts that have a rejuvenating effect on the skin and that offer some antioxidant protection. It wears beautifully alone or under makeup. You can find it at Nordstrom.
3. Cover FX Blurring Primer + Pore Minimizer
If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, then this is the best pore minimizer to try. This lovely primer has a simple, non-comedogenic and fragrance-free formula that makes pores look invisible in an instant. It is water-free and silicone based, and even contains vitamin E and lavender extract to give the skin a protective boost. It is available at Ulta.
4. Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment
Retinoids are the best pore minimizers by far, and as a bonus, they help with acne as well as with other skin texture issues. Adapalene is the strongest retinoid you can buy over the counter, and it gives quick, dramatic results. It works by triggering cell renewal, which ensures that the skin will shed damaged skin and will produce new cells, including collagen and elastin cells that give the skin a tighter appearance. It is a gel formula that will work for all skin types, but was created specifically with oily skin in mind. Order it from Walmart!
5. Dr. Brandt Skincare Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer
This mattifying primer is fabulous for shrinking pores instantly. It is made for those with oily skin, since it also controls shine throughout the day. The silicone-based formula is reinforced with some lovely skincare ingredients, including soothing and firming linseed extract and acne-fighting tea tree oil. As is expected from a good primer, it will also seriously extend the life of any makeup product you apply on top of it. Get it from Sephora!
6. Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizer
This anti-aging product works in a few different ways to help minimize the pores for the long term. It contains salicylic acid, the best chemical exfoliant for keeping the pores clear of debris and excess dead skin, as well as a variety of skin-repairing ingredients like DMAE, copper gluconate and zinc gluconate that might be able to increase skin firmness and thereby tighten the pores. Purchase it from Net-a-Porter!
7. Biore Charcoal Pore Minimizer
This gentle face scrub exfoliates the skin lightly while also helping draw impurities out of the pores with the help of charcoal powder. If you like to use the occasional physical scrub, this is a great choice because it helps to momentarily tighten the pores while dislodging the dead skin cells that tend to emphasize texture. It’s a sulfate-free formula that won’t dry out your skin. Grab if off of Amazon!
8. Herbivore Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner
This toner is a wonderful choice for day-to-day skin tightening. It is made with some wonderful skin soothers like green tea extract and aloe vera. The pore-minimizing effects come from astringent ingredients like witch hazel and willow bark extract, which momentarily constrict the skin to make it look firmer and smoother. Use it before moisturizer to give your skin that firming lift. It is sold at Sephora.
9. NYX Professional Makeup Pore Filler
A great pore minimizer primer doesn’t have to be expensive. This primer from NYX is simple and gentle, but super effective at totally hiding the look of large pores. It has a water-free formula that is on the thicker side, but it glides on the skin easily and fills in the pores. The cream itself is orange-colored, but the color totally fades once you apply it. Order it from Ulta!
10. MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime Skin Refined Zone Treatment
This light, water-based cream has a double function. It contains dimethicone to instantly blur the skin to make pores invisible, but it also has skin-firming ingredients that can actually tighten the pores temporarily. These ingredients include caffeine as well as hydrating and plumping hyaluronic acid. It can double as a primer and moisturizer for pretty much all skin types. Buy it at Nordstrom!
11. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting & Refining Serum
Exfoliation is a key part of keeping the skin in good shape, and it can also make a big difference in the appearance of the pores. Dead skin build-up will only emphasize larger pores, while regular exfoliation can somewhat minimize them in the long term. Salicylic acid is best, since it exfoliates through oil, but this formula also includes gentle mandelic acid for an all-over treatment. This is a hydrating exfoliator that will work for all skin types. Find it at Sephora!
12. Kahina Giving Beauty Oil Cleanser
Nothing does as good of a job of preventing clogged pores and sebaceous filaments as an oil cleanser. This lovely oil cleanser has an all-natural formula rich in non-comedogenic botanical oils. Its main oil is vitamin E-rich sunflower oil, but it also includes wonderful skin-soothing extracts like calendula and turmeric. This oil cleanser helps to shrink pores over the long term, simply by keeping them clear. Pick it up from Dermstore!
13. Tata Harper Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask
This excellent pore shrinking mask is made with a collection of skin-tightening botanical extracts and just a bit of purifying clay, for those days when you want to give your skin a little extra love. It’s actually a very hydrating mask, with soothing willow bark extract to give an astringent effect, and a combination of aloe and ferments to hydrate and plump up the skin. Kaolin clay rounds up the formula, helping to pull impurities from the pores. You can get it at Sephora.
14. Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum
This is a super hydrating serum that can work as a pore minimizer in a couple of ways. The first is through hydration. Just by loading your skin up with moisture you can plump it up, which instantly makes pores look that much smaller. Secondly, it contains niacinamide, which is one of the few topical ingredients that are able to control oil production. It has shown to work well in combination with ingredients like salicylic and retinol in minimizing pores, so definitely add it to a full routine. If you have oily skin, it can even replace your moisturizer! It is available at Ulta.
15. Algenist Pore Corrector Anti-Aging Primer
Since it’s part primer and part resurfacing skin care, this product is great for shrinking pores both in the long and short term. The silicone in this formula makes pores disappear instantly, while salicylic acid and willow bark extract help to refine the skin and keep it looking smoother for years to come. It’s a great two-in-one for all skin types. Purchase it from Sephora!
16. Erno Laszlo Pore Cleansing Clay Mask
Keeping the pores clear is one great way to also keep them looking smaller! This mask acts like a vacuum cleaner, pulling debris and sebum out of the pores. It includes both kaolin and bentonite clays, but in a formula that nourishes the skin to prevent dehydration. If your skin leans towards oily, then definitely give it a try! Order it from Net-a-Porter!
17. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
This fan-favorite scrub is one of the better physical exfoliants to choose. It contains gentle and ocean-safe silica beads to slough away pore-clogging dead skin, but it’s also reinforced with lactic and salicylic acid for their resurfacing abilities. It is an intensive exfoliant that will help minimize pores, but only if your skin is hearty and non-sensitive. Pick it up at Sephora!
18. Glossier Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector
This lovely exfoliant is a great staple to have in a pore shrinking skin care routine. It contains lactic acid, salicylic acid, and even gluconolactone (a poly-hydroxy acid) to resurface the skin and ensure the pores stay clear. It helps keep the skin feeling smooth, and even contains a touch of sebum-controlling niacinamide. Get it directly from Glossier!
19. Supergoop! 100% Mineral Smooth & Poreless Matte Screen SPF 40
A sunscreen is a must for keeping the skin in good shape and protecting oneself from skin cancer. It can also help prevent pores from getting larger later in life, since it is able to stop UV damage from taking its toll on the skin. This sunscreen doubles as a pore minimizer thanks to a primer-like formula that makes it silky smooth and mattifying. It has a mineral formula with lots of zinc oxide, which has also shown some promise at tightening the skin. Buy it from Sephora!
20. Dermalogica Clear Start Breakout Clearing All Over Toner
This 1% salicylic acid toner will help keep your pores clean, so that they don’t get stretched out over time, while also working to keep the skin tight with the soothing astringency of witch hazel. It is an easy-to-use spray-on formula with a salicylic acid percentage that is low enough for daily use. It also contains some bonus antioxidant extracts to give your skin some protection. It is sold at Ulta.
21. Dermadoctor Picture Porefect Pore Minimizer
This multi-acid serum loses this list with a bang, because it is probably the best pore minimizer around – assuming your skin tolerates all the powerful ingredients in it. This blend includes retinol, which is the best skin retexturizer you’ll find in cosmetics, along with resurfacers like glycolic and lactic acids. The blend also includes skin-soothing and acne-fighting azelaic acid, along with a variety of anti-inflammatory extracts. Pick it up from Nordstrom!
There are a number of factors that lead to large pores:
• Skin Type
Higher oil production is linked with having larger pores. In fact, examining pore size is one of the ways of determining a person’s skin type.
The reason that those with oily skin also have larger pores is that the pores are the portals through which the skin expels oil out to its surface. If you have overactive sebaceous glands that are producing more oil than necessary, then the pores will have to be larger to accommodate that extra oil.
Those with oily skin are also likelier to have their pores become clogged, which makes the pores more visible. Repeated cloggings can end up damaging the walls of the pores and stretching them out as a result.
• Loss of Tone with Age
Collagen and elastin are the two proteins responsible for keeping the skin tight, firm, and supple. As we age, our skin slowly loses its ability to produce them, while external causes of aging like sun exposure and pollution only work to speed up that process.
One of the symptoms of loss of tone in the skin is that facial pores start looking larger. The skin no longer has that natural plumpness that keeps pores looking tight. This is why a protective skincare routine with sunscreen and antioxidants can help prevent pores from getting larger with age.
Repeated inflammation traumatizes the skin and can lead to permanent damage. Repeated sun exposure and skin conditions like rosacea or acne are just a few things that cause the skin to become inflamed. A skin picking and squeezing habit is another great way to traumatize the skin and damage the pores.
A one-off breakout or sunburn isn’t likely to cause the kind of damage that makes the pores appear larger, but cumulative damage from years of breaking out, squeezing or staying out in the sun for too long will certainly take their toll. By avoiding inflammation triggers and by letting your skin heal as quickly as possible with the help of soothing anti-inflammatory products, you can prevent long-term damage to your skin.
Pores will appear momentarily larger when the skin is dehydrated. Lack of water in the epidermis sort of causes the skin to deflate and lose a bit of plumpness. As a result, the skin looks a little saggy and dulls, while the pores themselves will appear a little larger since there will be no moisture working from below to make the skin appear taut. Thankfully, this can be easily remedied by the use of a good moisturizer rich in humectants.
There are different kinds of products that claim to help shrink pores. These pore minimizers are usually either skincare or makeup.
While no product can instantly shrink the pores permanently, there are lots of products that can make the pores look smaller or temporarily tighten them. There are also products that, by resurfacing the skin or triggering cell renewal, might be able to somewhat minimize the appearance of pores in the long term.
I want to clear something up real quick: pores do not open and close. They don’t have doors. However, our skin does respond to stimuli, and it can contract. This, for the most part, doesn’t have any long-term impact on the skin, but if your pores are expanding or contracting due to significant changes in temperature or because of dehydrating astringents, that can actually damage the skin and lead to permanently enlarged pores.
But without further ado, these are the different kinds of pore minimizers that can help make your skin look airbrushed:
Primers are more of a makeup product than a skincare product, and they are extremely effective at visibly minimizing the pores. Primers made of silicone, especially cyclopentasiloxane and dimethicone, have a soft-focus effect once applied to the skin.
They are able to blur the skin, making it look smoother and minimizing the appearance of imperfections, including large pores. They also have the added benefit of filling in any indentations in the skin and smoothing it out, which allows the skin to look much less textured once makeup is applied.
Astringents are not necessarily the best ingredients to choose for tightening the pores, but they can help momentarily. Astringent ingredients are able to momentarily tighten the skin by causing a temporary constriction.
Some astringents, like denatured alcohol, can have adverse effects like causing dehydration, which in turn only makes pores appear larger. Soothing astringents, however, can also work as anti-inflammatories to momentarily tighten the skin while also countering irritation.
I’ve waxed poetic about oil cleansers many a times, and this is another great opportunity. Because our pores are essentially oil expelling tubes, one of the best ways to clean the pores thoroughly is with an oil-based cleanser.
The proof is mostly anecdotal, as so many of the denizens of Reddit’s AsianBeauty community noticed that their pores shrank once they made oil cleansers a regular part of their skincare routine. This is likely because the oil cleansers did a great job keeping the pores clear of sebum and dead skin build-up.
If you’re worried about oil cleansers being too greasy for you, you can absolutely follow them up with a foaming or gel-based cleanser (as long as it has a low pH) and still benefit from their pore clearing abilities.
Charcoal and Clay Masks
Clay and clay masks are excellent for momentarily tightening the pores, especially when in addition to clay they contain other gentle astringents. Beyond that, they can also help pull impurities from deep within the pore, which is important from keeping them from stretching on becoming clogged in the long term. Clay masks work even better before or after an oil cleansing, so definitely consider combining the two practices.
Dead skin cell build-up makes any texture issues look worse, not to mention that it impedes the skin from taking in nutrients. If exfoliation hasn’t been a part of your regular skin care routine, you will definitely notice your pores shrinking a few weeks after taking it up.
However, at a certain point you will hit a ceiling of how much exfoliation will shrink your pores. It doesn’t mean you should stop, however! Exfoliation helps maintain the health of the skin, it promotes cell regeneration, and it ensures that the skin will absorb a maximal amount of beneficial skin care ingredients.
Chemical exfoliation is usually the best choice, since it gives a very thorough yet gentle exfoliation. With physical scrubs it can be easy to run into issues of over exfoliation or skin irritation. That’s not to say physical scrubs are always a bad idea – it’s just better to use them sparingly and gently.
The best chemical exfoliant for anything to do with pores is salicylic acid, which can penetrate through oils. Salicylic acid is able to exfoliate within the pores, and is generally best for those with oily or acne-prone skin. It is best to use it in toners, serums, or moisturizers, since they stay on the skin.
These are the most important skincare products for minimizing pores. This refers to a class of ingredients that are able to induce skin cell regeneration and tend to be popular in anti-aging skincare formulations.
By inducing skin cell regeneration, especially while also working to remove damaged skin through exfoliation, you can repair any kind of damage and improve texture issues. Additionally, these ingredients can also promote collage production in the skin, which helps to keep it firm and in turn prevent or reduce the look of pores that are stretched out due to loss of tone.
It’s important to remember that these ingredients make the skin photosensitive, so using them along with sunscreen is very important.
Retinoids like retinol, adapalene, and tretinoin have the most research backing their effectiveness, but they can also be a little harsh on the skin – especiall the latter two, which are classed as medications rather than cosmetic ingredients. Other retinoids like retinyl palmitate or hydroxypinacolone retinoate are much gentler, but their results are less dramatic.
While retinoids are the best ingredients for renewing the skin and improving its texture, there are other ingredients that might also be helpful. There is some evidence backing vitamin C’s ability to trigger collagen production, in particular, and lots of people with oily or acne-prone skin find they benefit from adding it to their routine.
Lastly, there is the possibility that newer anti-aging ingredients like copper gluconate and peptides might also be able to help somewhat.
If you need a momentary lift to your skin that will also shrink pores, a moisturizer, essence, mask or serum with lots of humectants might be enough, especially if your skin is dehydrated.
The ingredients you should be looking for are humectants, which are special ingredients that can bring water into the skin. They include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, panthenol, as well as many sugar-related molecules.
When these ingredients pull water into the skin, they cause the stratum corneum (the most top layer of our skin, which is mostly comprised of dead skin cells) to puff up a bit, which ends up minimizing and even obscuring the openings of the pores. Note that this is only a temporary solution, and it only applies if the cause for your pores looking larger is dehydration.
By using the right products and treating your skin with kindness you can shrink your pores. These are the best practices for keeping your pores looking good!
• Wash with Cool Water
Sorry, but you’ll have to give up on that hot water. Hot water has a very damaging effect on the skin. It strips the skin of moisture while dilating the pores.
The occasional hot bath is not the end of the world, but on a regular basis it can absolutely damage your skin, cause inflammation can lead to pores looking larger.
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser (bonus points for oil cleansers) and cool water every night to help keep the pores clear from debris. Make sure all traces of cleanser are gone with the help of a clean microfiber cloth, as well.
• Quit Picking!
If you have a habit of getting really close and personal with the mirror, examining your skin mercilessly and squeezing at every perceived imperfection, now’s a good time to stop. When we pick at our skin or squeeze our pores, we’re only making things worse. Repeated squeezing can actually damage the cell walls in a way that creates scar tissue and stretches out the pores.
• Low-pH Everything
Our skin is happiest and healthiest when its pH stays firmly below 5.5, which is why I always harp on using low-pH cleansers. If the pH of your skin is consistently higher, the skin looks dull and easily inflamed, which leads to pores looking larger. Acidity is also useful for ensuring the skin looks healthy, and it also keeps bacteria away and prevents pore-damaging inflammation.
Depending on your level of tolerance, you will want to exfoliate your skin anywhere from once a day to once a week. If your skin is very hearty, a daily chemical exfoliant with a low percentage of acid will help keep your pores clean. If it is more sensitive, you can use a chemical exfoliant just a few times a week.
If you prefer physical scrubs, either as your only exfoliant or to speed up the effects of a chemical exfoliant, you can use them once or twice a week, after cleansing and before the rest of your pore shrinking routine.
As with chemical exfoliants, strong retinoids and other skin-renewing products can be used every day by some or just once or twice a week by others. It’ll depend on the type of ingredient you choose and how strong it is.
If you opt for retinol, adapalene, or tretinoin as your strong pore minimizer, keep in mind that it doesn’t always play nicely with chemical exfoliants. You will probably not want to use them one after the other, and instead use them on alternating nights.
Hydration is an easy way of minimizing pores that look large because of dehydration, but it can also reinforce your skin against damage and prevent irritation that can lead to enlarged pores down the line. It’s also an important part of any skincare routine, in general.
That being said, you don’t have to use a moisturizer to moisturize your skin. You can also use hydrating serums or thin lotions to give your skin the hydration and reinforcement it needs, especially if you have oily skin. Use a moisturizing product every night at the very least, although twice a day is ideal.
• Protect from the Sun
The sun is the leading cause of premature aging, and one of the symptoms of it is loss of firmness. Using a full ¼ teaspoon of sunscreen every morning will protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun, to keep your skin looking firm, smooth, and youthful for years to come.
• Use Primer
We’ve given you a list of some of the best pore minimizers on the market, so you might as well put them to good use. A pore shrinking primer will make your troubles fade instantly, as long as you use it correctly.
You only need a pea-sized amount, and it’s best to smooth it over the skin in outward and downward motions. Start with the center of face, since that’s where the pores tend to be the largest, and then work it gently over the rest of the face. Foundation afterwards is strictly optional!
• See a Dermatologist
Topical products can either help shrink pores temporarily or in a very subtle way over a long period of time. The only way to get radical results quickly is by visiting a dermatologist and opting for a more intense treatment. A dermatologist can prescribe you a stronger retinoid, or they can suggest an in-office treatment that can improve pore size.
The most effective pore minimizer treatment is laser resurfacing. This kind of treatment triggers skin renewal while also refining the texture of the skin, and if often only takes two or three treatments to see incredible improvement.
This is the best way to shrink pores that have become enlarged due to scar tissue from skin picking, but it will help smooth things out no matter the cause. It is good to go in knowing that these treatments are not cheap, and that a single session can set you back $1000 or more.
Photos via @sonagasparian, @the.skincare.diary, @allaboutyourglow, @hilly__c