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What Are Pores and How to Minimize Them for a Flawless Complexion

best products for pores

Large pores seem to be the facial characteristic so many of us just can’t get rid of. You’ve probably tried cleansing, exfoliating and covering up your skin to minimize or mask the appearance of your pores—but they just won’t shrink. Well, to help minimize your pores, you first need to understand what they are, what purpose they serve and what causes them to appear larger in the first place. Here’s a brief overview of pores and some top-rated product recommendations to help you get a flawless complexion.

So, What Are Pores, Exactly?

The word “pore” literally means an opening in a surface where microscopic particles can pass. More specific to our bodies, pores are also the opening at the top of our hair follicles. It is also where the sebum (our body’s natural oils) is released to the surface to help our skin be naturally moisturized. Though their appearance can be frustrating, in actuality, when all aspects of our anatomy work in perfect harmony, pores are helpful for maintaining healthy skin—and who doesn’t want that?

Understanding a few details about pores can help you deal with them in a healthy manner and help you avoid potentially harming your skin with unnecessary products. Here are five important things to know about pores:

  1. They are actually hair follicles.
  2. Their appearance is largely determined by genetics.
  3. Environmental factors, aging, dry skin, oil and acne can all make your pores look bigger.
  4. Regular cleansing can help minimize the appearance of pores.
  5. Too much cleansing can actually cause your pores to produce more oil.

Tips and Recommendations for Minimizing Large Pores

Unfortunately, pores will never permanently shrink—meaning they’re not going to get smaller than they appear in their normal, healthy state. This is because pore size is largely dependent on genetics, and pores serve an important function when it comes to healthy skin. You can, however, take steps to keep your pores clean and healthy to minimize their appearance. Some important tips to consider:

  • Keep your skin clean (cleanse once or twice per day) to remove makeup, oil, dirt and debris
  • Apply sunscreen year-round (sun damage breaks down collagen, which can lead to saggy pores)
  • Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores (but be gentle and don’t overdo it; 1–3 times max per week is enough)
  • Choose the right products for your skin type (non-comedogenic products that won’t clog pores are best)

With the last point in mind, it’s so important to be strategic about what you’re putting on your face. Below, you’ll find Dermstore’s recommendations for products to clean, shrink or lessen the appearance of your pores.

Deep Cleansers

  1. Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy
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    Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy

    Powered by 2% salicylic acid and glycerin, this treatment can help clear, refresh and balance your skin. It’s created by Obagi, which is known for their focus on high-quality, potent ingredients to restore and maintain skin health. One reviewer praised the fast-acting and refreshing effects, saying, “Literally rid me of clogged pores within a week. Best ‘toner’ I have ever used. It leaves my skin feeling refreshed and clean.”

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  2. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel
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    Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel

    Since pores house your sebum, which naturally moisturizes your skin, stripping them of their natural oils can have a negative impact on your complexion, causing them to feel dry and possibly resulting in excessive oil production to make up for the loss. Choosing a cleanser like this one can help exfoliate the complexion without stripping the skin. Formulated with willow bark extract, snow ear mushroom and glycolic acid, this cleansing gel removes makeup and provides a squeaky-clean cleanse to help refine pores.
    Pore-Refining Exfoliants

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  3. PCA Skin Pore Refining Treatment
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    PCA Skin Pore Refining Treatment

    This potent pore refiner combines chemical—mandelic acid and papain extract—with physical exfoliants—rice powder and pumice—to deeply penetrate the skin and buff away notorious pore-cloggers, revealing a visibly brighter skin after the first use. Kaolin and bentonite clay help detoxify skin while absorbing excess sebum to keep acne at bay. The natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of bisabolol make this the “pore-fect” exfoliant for those with oily and acne-prone skin.

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  4. SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub
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    SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub

    When it comes to refining the look of pores, exfoliation is key. By rejuvenating the skin with a product such as this Micro-Exfoliating Scrub, pores appear cleaner with less dead skin cells creating that enlarged effect. Formulated with diatomaceous earth microbeads, this skin polish provides the complexion with an even exfoliation while soothing with added aloe vera and purifies pores with natural citrus oils.
    Detoxifying Masks

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  5. Eminence Organic Skin Care Raspberry Pore Refining Masque
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    Eminence Organic Skin Care Raspberry Pore Refining Masque

    Eminence Organics Raspberry Pore Refining Masque revitalizes and firms to improve the look of your complexion. Raspberry juice nourishes, delivering antioxidant-rich benefits to protect and hydrate, as blueberry and blackberry juices work as an astringent to tone and tighten large pores. Soothing honey replenishes moisture, while the unique Biocomplex formula fortifies to strengthen your skin and promote a healthier, clearer look. Nut-free.Key Ingredients: * Raspberry Juice: antioxidant; source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids; astringent; tightens the look of pores * Honey: moisturizes and
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  6. Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud
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    Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud

    Extract all the dirt, impurities and excess oil from your skin with this mud mask. The star ingredient, 9,000-year-old Moor mud from the Irish countryside, reverses the damage of environmental stress and pollutants with its blend of organic minerals and antioxidants.

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  7. Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer
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    Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer

    A nearly universal concern we all may face on our complexion: pores. Luckily, Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer offers a quick and flawless fix. Renowned in the beauty industry and a repeat cult favorite for many years, this lightweight base features the doubling benefit of a refining treatment and cosmetic foundation, acting as multiple essentials all at once. Creating an invisible barrier on the surface to prevent your makeup from clogging pores, visible results are both immediate and long-lasting.Crafted as a quick-absorbing formula with microspheres, flaxseed and
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  8. Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer
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    Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you could Instagram filter your large pores away IRL? Well, now you (sort of) can! This blurring primer was made for photo-ready skin with the ability to smooth away the look of large pores and imperfections, providing the perfect base for makeup. In addition to its ability to dissolve the look of pores, this makeup primer is skin-friendly with added vitamins A and E to protect the complexion from harmful environmental aggressors.

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Beauty Reporter

Jessie Quinn

Jessie Quinn is a writer and editor with work published in NYLON Magazine,,,, and more. She is a graduate of Academy of Art University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Journalism. Originally from Los Angeles, she currently resides in Brooklyn—her home for the last five years. In Jessie’s free time, you can find her creating content for her beauty blog, Hair Skin Kale, testing out DIY beauty recipes, exploring her neighborhood, or binge-watching episodes of Friends. Her background in fashion has taught her that beautiful skin never goes out of style. Follow her on Instagram.