Aestheticians Name Their Top Products for Tighter Pores

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Aestheticians Name Their Top Products for Tighter Pores featured image

No matter how many peels, pore strips or clay masks we use to “shrink” our pores, we know their size has been genetically determined—thank your parents or grandparents—and we can’t actually make them smaller. As master aesthetician Amy McLain says, “The size of our pores is usually a touchy subject.” However, we can make them appear smaller and tighter with the help of the right products (a deep-cleansing facial now and then will help too!). Here are 22 pore-minimizers recommended by leading aestheticians, from cleansers to peels and everything in between.

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skinbetter science AlphaRet Overnight Cream ($)

“This is one of my all-time favorites 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 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. This product will deliver potent yet very tolerable retinol to help strengthen and grow the dermis layer—’the engine room’ of the skin—where the important collagen and elastin fibers are produced. When your dermis is thick and healthy, skin will appear smoother and more radiant, and less dehydrated and imbalanced.”

—Karen Fernandez, lead aesthetician at SkinSpirit


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Tatcha The Clarifying Clay Mask ($70)

“This is a terrific product that can help open and cleanse pores, and remove excess oil from the surface of the skin—it also has some exfoliant properties. Removing debris from pores is a key step in achieving smaller 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

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SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser ($48); GlowBiotics Probiotic Revitalizing Cleanser ($36); and Jan Marini Skin Research Bioglycolic Face Cleanser ($45)

“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 or sensitive skin.”

 —Karen Fernandez

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SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator ($86)

“This is another favorite of mine. When used daily and consistently, this 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

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Jan Marini Skin Research Skin Zyme ($75)

“This mask is my absolute favorite. 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


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The Ordinary AHA 30%+BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($8)

“Chemical peels are one of the 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, 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

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Senté Dermal Pressed Contour Serum ($198); SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($184); and SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel ($86)

“Dehydration can also be a problem for smaller pores, so products that helps rehydrate at a cellular level are key. Senté’s Pressed Serum is the gold standard in helping to actually fix chronic dehydration. SkinMedica HA5 is a great choice for hydration that lasts all day and looks matte on the skin, and SkinCeuticals B5 is the instant fix for any and all skin, even sensitive skin with large pores.”

—Karen Fernandez

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skinbetter science AlphaRet Clearing Serum ($130)

“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 product has the added benefits of improving skin tone and texture and contains powerful antioxidants.”

—Mila Davis

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Perricone MD No:Rinse Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner ($45)

“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

Photo Credits: Perricone MD
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Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Purifying Mask ($52)

“Most clay masks—my favorite of the bunch is this one, made with Amazonian clay—help draw excess oil, impurities and sebum out of the pores, which makes them look tighter and smaller.”

—Dylan Mustapich, lead aesthetician at Face Haus New York

Photo Credits: Elemental Herbology
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Revision Skincare Retinol Complete 0.5 ($98)

“Retinoic acid promotes cellular turnover, revealing healthy new cells and purging oil from the pores. This is my go-to retinoic acid for minimizing the appearance of pores and promoting skin health.”

—Karee Hays, master aesthetician

Photo Credits: Revision Skincare
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Lira Clinical MYSTIQ iLuminating Polisher with PSC ($31)

“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

Photo Credits: Lira Clinical
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Éminence Organic Skin Care Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel ($79)

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

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PCA SKIN Pore Refining Treatment ($60)

“To minimize large pores, you need to empty them out with the help of products that decrease oil production and remove built-up oil. This treatment does just that with enzymes that deliver cellular exfoliation.”

—Runchana Ball, aesthetician

Photo Credits: PCA SKIN
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Biologique Recherche Serum Dermopore ($84)

“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

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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, master aesthetician and esthetics director of education at Kenneth’s Hair Salons & Day Spas in Columbus, OH

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LANCER Caviar Lime Acid Peel ($90)

“This enzyme peel is packed with so many action-oriented ingredients—10 percent glycolic acid, 10 percent brightening phytic acid and caviar lime—so 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

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HydroPeptide Clarifying Toner Balance & Control Pads ($48)

“This is one of my favorite products that I love to recommend to clients who struggle with large pores. They have a blend of alphahydroxy acids 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

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