In search of the best pore minimizer to magically make your pores disappear? Unfortunately, the size of our pores has been genetically determined. That means we have our parents or grandparents to thank for our pore complaints. It also means we can’t actually make our pores smaller, no matter how many peels, nose strips or clay masks we use to “shrink” them.
As master aesthetician Amy McLain says, “The size of our pores is usually a touchy subject.” However, we can make our pores appear smaller with the help of the right products and ingredients. (And of course a good steamy facial now and then will help too!) We never turn down an opportunity to look to the pros for help. In-office treatments can make a big difference, and complement the use of at-home products.
How to Minimize the Look of Large Pores
“When it comes to pores, we can’t permanently change their size. But, we can take measures to refine texture and improve their visibility,” says medical aesthetician Candace Marino. “Getting facials and keeping the skin clean is imperative for people concerned with large pores. When we deep-clean the skin and remove dead cellular debris that gets trapped in the pores, they become less dilated, clogged and visible.”
“Individual skin types vary, so it’s important to choose products that suit your specific needs and preferences,” adds Evelyn Ramirez, licensed medical aesthetician. “Remember, consistent skin-care routines, a healthy diet and protecting your skin from the sun are also important factors in maintaining the health and appearance of your skin. It’s a good idea to patch-test new products and consult with a dermatologist or skin-care professional if you have specific concerns.”
“Not only did this beautiful lavender glass bottle immediately catch my eye, but this pore minimizer also truly does live up to its claim. Upon the first application, I saw an immediate difference in minimized pores, as well as an improvement in overall texture. My skin had a hydrated, dewy glow due to the combination of the 2-percent salicylic acid balanced with borage, tremella mushroom and vitamin C.
The borage helps to offset any redness or inflammation. The pH balance was perfect, and it’s a perfect step for any morning and evening regimen. It’s suitable for any skin type, but I recommend it to my clients with combination or acne-prone skin. This is so much more than a basic toner!” —Jenny Gersack, aesthetician and owner of Radiant Skin by Jenny Gersack
“This product helps refine the appearance of enlarged pores. It minimizes the amount of oil on the surface of the skin for a shine-free, matte appearance. It also smooths skin texture and minimizes the appearance of imperfections on the skin. Additionally, it works to exfoliate dead skin cells around the pores. This helps to prevent congestion, which can lead to breakouts.” —Amy Peterson, Miami-based aesthetician and founder of Skincare by Amy Peterson
“A cleanser containing salicylic acid can help exfoliate the skin and unclog pores, making them appear smaller.” —Evelyn Ramirez
“Pore Minimizer is excellent for trouble areas where it is difficult to squeeze, especially around the nose area. As our nose consists of bone and cartilage, it is not advisable to put too much pressure on the flexible portion of the nose. Therefore, by using Pore Minimizer, we can clean this area and make the pores appear smaller.” —Elena Arboleda, Mario Badescu aesthetician since 1983
“When it comes to the best pore minimizers, this botanical product is safe for any skin type or age, and my patients find that it does not strip or dry the skin. It is a physical exfoliant that smooths and softens the skin and can help minimize the size of pores.” —Sanela Pjetrovic, expert medical aesthetician at BeautyWorksNYC
“This is a terrific pore minimizer that can help open and cleanse pores, as well as remove excess oil from the surface of the skin. It also has some exfoliant properties. Removing debris from the pores is a key step in achieving smaller-looking pores. This product has the benefit of not only removing debris, dead skin cells and bacteria, but also tightening the skin, leaving you with a smoother complexion.” —Mila Davis, aesthetician at Skin to Smile
“This is one of my all-time favorite pore minimizers that we also carry at my clinic. I am a big fan of brands that have impressive clinical studies and high-efficacy ingredients. When it comes to skin care, we all want results fast, and that is exactly what this retinol product delivers; you’ll see noticeable results and improvements in less than a week. It diminishes pore size and will also brighten and firm.” —Joie Tavernise, medical aesthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare
“This is the magic bullet to help large-pored skin look its absolute best. A good pore minimizing tip is to use retinol. This product will deliver potent yet very tolerable retinol to help strengthen and grow the dermis layer, ‘the engine room’ of the skin. This is where the important collagen and elastin fibers are produced. When the dermis is thick and healthy, skin will appear smoother and more radiant, and less dehydrated and imbalanced.” —Karen Fernandez, lead aesthetician at SkinSpirit
Moon Juice Acid Potion ($42)
“This blend of alphahydroxy acids, betahydroxy acid and botanicals exfoliates dead skin, regulates oil production and increases cell turnover. It helps to minimize fine lines, refine pores and revitalize brightness. Glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid help unclog pores and visibly resurface for smoother skin.
My customers love this exfoliant and are happy with their results. I highly recommend it for their skin-care regimen at home.” —Soyoki Abo, aesthetician, certified beautician and founder of ABOSOYOKI
“This pore minimizer offers a multipurpose solution by exfoliating and brightening the skin. These alcohol-free pads and designed to lessen dullness and promote radiance. Harnessing the power of three star ingredients, lotus sprout extract, tranexamic acid and niacinamide, the pads effectively address skin concerns while being gentle enough for daily use.
The exfoliation process, aided by ingredients like glycolic acid, increases skin cell turnover, improves the appearance of pore size and delivers a smoother complexion.” —Edyta Jarosz, master aesthetician at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue
“This mask is so good, especially for the nose area! It’s gentle yet very effective, and likely will not tingle on most skin. The mandelic acid helps exfoliate dead skin cells, which overall can help reduce the appearance of pores. The formula also has Moroccan lava clay that helps absorb excess oil content on the skin, thus minimizing the appearance of pores even more.
It’s important to note that a pore cannot be shrunk or made smaller, yet products like this mask can keep skin exfoliated and clean. This contributes to minimizing the appearance of the pores. If you’re stressed over pore size, please take a deep breath, apply a mask, and tell yourself it’s all going to be OK!” —Ian Michael Crumm, celebrity aesthetician and cohost of BeautyCurious Podcast
“This toner contains white willow bark extract, salicylic acid and gluconolactone which all aid in reducing the appearance of pores. This sophisticated formula also contains L-ascorbic acid, pro-vitamin A, niacinamide, and pro-vitamin B5, which all contribute to overall skin health and appearance.
The Sal-C Toner is an excellent addition for anyone with oily skin looking for a product to keep their pores clear and also benefit from brightening and antioxidant support.” —Alex Hernandez, licensed aesthetician and lead educator for Face Reality Skincare
“Exfoliating ingredients like the glycolic acid found in this lightweight face gel are crucial when it comes to minimizing your pores. It’s packed with aloe vera to help combat potential irritation from use. Use it in combination with vitamin C for maximizing results and antioxidant protection.” —Amy Peterson
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($12.50)
“There is unfortunately nothing you can do to close your pores, but what you can do is deep-cleanse them to make them appear smaller. The major cause of large pores is excessive oil production. Seek out products that contain ingredients like niacinamide, which help regulate sebum production and refine skin texture by supporting the skin’s natural exfoliation process. Niacinamide promotes the removal of dead skin cells and helps to smooth the skin’s surface, which ultimately gives the appearance of smaller pores.
I love this cleanser because it contains niacinamide, as well as hydrating key ingredients like panthenol and glycerin to not disturb the skin’s natural skin barrier.” —René de la Garza, celebrity aesthetician
“This multitasking serum was developed for shrinking the appearance of pores while purifying skin. It’s formulated with java tea, which helps to reduce sebum secretion and prevent comedone formation. It helps refine irregularities and skin texture, while rebalancing the skin.
I recommend using it both in the morning and at night after cleansing skin, and recommend focusing on the T-zone area if that’s a problematic area for you.” —Gunna Covert, co-owner and head trainer at Daphne Studio NYC and Penelope and The Beauty Bar in Seattle
“This is another top favorite of mine. When used daily and consistently, this acid serum will act as a powerful yet gentle exfoliant. The beauty of this product is that you can incorporate it into your routine both morning and night—unless your skin is sensitive, in which case you would only use at night. Exfoliation helps with skin cell turnover, and the glycolic acid will slough out congestion from the pores, making them smaller and tighter.” —Joie Tavernise
“This mask is my absolute favorite. It’s one of the best pore minimizers. It melts away dead skin cells with gentle green papaya and hydrates with a touch of honey—the result is skin that feels soft, hydrated, smooth and balanced.” —Karen Fernandez
“Smoothing the look of pores starts with relaxing them, in a sense, in order to release and emulsify buildup of debris (dead skin cells, makeup residue, sebaceous congestion, dried sweat, etc.) that can cause uneven texture. Once the pores are free and clear, it is then imperative to replenish the moisture balance to ‘fill in the gaps’ and act as a bridge between the potholes. This lends way to clean, clear canvas that is smooth and supple.
A quick and easy way to make this part of a routine is to use this exfoliating peel. It’s a solution that can be used either by hand or on a cotton pad as a prep to serums or moisturizers in the weekly routine (or more often as needed). The lifting effect from the pores regaining vitality is something that anyone can benefit from with smoother skin overall.” —Karee Hays, master aesthetician
“This clay mask contains blue clay, charcoal and salicylic acid, which help to unclog and minimize the look of pores. I see great results when I use this product after extractions on my customers. It leaves pores clean and calms the skin. It also doesn’t dry out skin at all.” —Soyoki Abo
“For at-home products, I like to recommend something with both hydrating and pore-refining ingredients. Hydration is important for enlarged pores, because topical hydration will help balance the skins oil production for those who are oily, thus preventing buildup within them. And for those with dry skin, hydration will replenish dehydration, making the skin’s texture more supple. When skin is dry, pores seem to flatten out and become more visible.
Pore-refining ingredients are going to smooth and resurface the skin’s texture, making pores less prominent. This formula has both: hyaluronic acid to hydrate the deeper layers of the skin and replenish a dry texture, and yarrow extract, which smooths and refines the skin’s visible texture.” —Candace Marino
OSEA Ocean Cleanser ($48)
“This is a plant-based probiotic cleanser with vegan gel from organic algae. This cleanser helps to remove impurities and excess oils, as well as prevent breakouts and solve blackheads issues. My customers are seeing great results. They are using it morning and night, yet it doesn’t cause skin stripping.” —Soyoki Abo
“Chemical peels are one of the best, most efficient treatments that can shrink the size of your pores. Medical-grade chemical peels are most effective, but they have to be performed in an office setting by a professional. This product has higher-than-normal concentrations of AHAs to deliver above-average results.
This peeling solution also contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, tartaric acid, salicylic acid, and citric acid, which make it an effective product to exfoliate the outer layer of skin and not only produce smaller pores, but also improve overall skin texture and appearance.” —Mila Davis
“This glycolic acid exfoliant can help remove dead skin cells, which will improve skin texture and minimize the appearance of pores.” —Evelyn Ramirez
“The salicylic acid in this toner helps exfoliate skin and plump and firm fine lines. I even recommend using it twice a day if pores are really a problem.” —Alexandra Wagner, aesthetician and founder of her eponymous skin-care line
“Retinoic acid promotes cellular turnover, revealing healthy new cells and purging oil from the pores. This is my top retinol product to minimize the appearance of pores and promote skin health.” —Karee Hays
“This is a treatment mask that helps to tighten pores and restore the skin’s natural radiance. The mask offers a range of benefits, including pore purification and tightening, complexion brightening, and overall revitalization and stimulation of the skin’s functions.
This deep-cleansing mask is intended for all skin types and works to keep pores from getting bigger, while also having the ability to potentially shrink them over time.” —Edyta Jarosz
“This is a BHA-containing serum and has the added benefit of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a powerful ingredient that reduces excessive oil production, in turn reducing clogged pores and pore size. This pore minimizer has the added benefits of improving skin tone and texture, and contains powerful antioxidants.” —Mila Davis
“This is one of the best products that I love to recommend to clients who struggle with large pores. The pads have a blend of alphahydroxy acids, including azelaic and lactic acid, that exfoliate, brighten, tone and balance the skin. The pads are great for removing excess makeup and pollutants, as well as dissolving dirt and oil. My clients see such a difference with them, and they love how convenient they are.” —Amy McLain
“Most clay masks help draw excess oil, impurities and sebum out of the pores, which makes them look tighter and smaller. My favorite of the bunch is this one, which is made with Amazonian clay that purifies each pore.” —Dylan Mustapich, lead aesthetician at Face Haus New York
“This enzyme peel is packed with so many action-oriented ingredients: 10-percent glycolic acid, 10-percent brightening phytic acid, retinol and caviar lime. You may be concerned with reactivity, but don’t be. This is the velvet hammer of exfoliation. Its acids and enzymes affect change while smoothing out the rough edges that can be associated with peels.
The acids work together to help resurface and minimize pore size and skin tone. Plus, the pineapple and papaya fruit enzymes act as humectants to moisturize and plump up the skin. Soft, tight and bright skin? Who doesn’t want that?” —Megan Linney, spa director and aesthetician at The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being in Las Vegas
“Cleansing with a balanced glycolic acid cleanser will help dissolve the binding that holds dead skin together without drying the skin. My favorites are SkinMedica AHA/BHA for oily skin types, GlowBiotics Revitalizing Cleanser for combo skin, and Jan Marini Bioglycolic Cleanser three times a week for dry skin or sensitive skin.” —Karen Fernandez
Environ Tri Biobotanical Revival Masque ($81)
“This masque is like a ‘facelift in a bottle.’ With a unique combination of three acids, this product is amazing for lifting, firming and reducing the appearance of large pores. It also lightens the skin beautifully! I have my clients sleep with it on three times a week and they see a significant improvement after consistently using it for three weeks.” —Amy McLain
“This polisher is great because you get to slough your skin to pore-perfect skin. It’s also jam-packed with great healing agents like silver, gold, the brand’s signature Mastiha, and plant stem cells. I’m obsessed with plant stem cells.” —Linden Tyler Glavich, licensed aesthetician and owner of Linden Company Salon and Spa