Remember that scene in Mean Girls where Regina George stands in front of the mirror and complains about her large pores? Well, she's not the only one. Despite being essential to our skin's health, pores get a bad rep and people often look to shrink them. While it's impossible to permanently shrink your pores, there are actions you can take to keep them clean and to temporarily reduce their appearance. In other words, pore minimizers, like primers, work to mask them while some skincare products can help keep them clear of acne-causing bacteria and excess oil.
If you're looking to minimize the appearance of your pores, here's how to do it:
Step one: Cleanse your skin every day.
We all know that cleansing our skin is the first step towards a clear complexion, and making cleansing a habit can help minimize the appearance of pores, too. If you have acne-prone or oily skin, look for a non-drying cleanser that contains exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid. If not, any gentle cleanser will do the trick.
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Step two: Use an exfoliator at least once a week.
To avoid an accumulation of dead skin cells piling up on your skin, which can lead to pore-expanding blackheads and other forms of acne, make it a habit to chemically exfoliate your skin once or twice a week. Look for products with AHAs and BHAs, like the Drew Barrymore-approved Drunk Elephant Babyfacial.
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Step three: Start using retinoids.
Retinoids help with skin cell turnover, meaning that they'll clear out any dead skin cells that could build up inside your pores. Plus, they treat and prevent acne, as well as repair acne scars. Retinoid is a strong skincare ingredient, so choose a gentle retinoid-based product, like the Differin Adapalene Gel. Start by using it twice a week until your skin builds up more tolerance.
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Step four: Use pore-cleansing face masks and treatments.
Ingredients like charcoal and clay work like magnets to suck all the gunk out of clogged pores, and many face masks use them to help clear the skin. Instead of opting for pore strips that can irritate the skin barrier, look for gentle wipe-off face masks that do the trick—we're big fans of this pore-sucking mousse that's taken over TikTok.
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Step five: Use a pore-minimizing primer.
When all is said and done, a primer is your best bet for minimizing the appearance of pores—and the effects are instant! Celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin says that there are several formulas that work and that although people tend to shy away from silicones, that they're really effective in filling in pores and reducing their appearance.
Here are the four best pore minimizing primers:
Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer
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This is the OG pore-minimizing primer that many people tried at least once in middle school. The formula is mattifying, oil-free, and infused with protective vitamin E. Use it before your makeup for a smooth application, and even apply it over makeup to spot treat any areas that may need a little extra TLC.
Tatcha The Silk Canvas
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This fancy primer is made with anti-aging ingredients such as rice and green tea, but its star ingredient is silk. The silk powder makes the formula feel nourishing and soft, and it helps to blur imperfections and reduce the appearance of pores. It's free of synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and mineral oils—it's great for all skin types.
Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch
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Irwin recommends this silky smooth primer that melts into the skin. "The formula has micro-pearls and vitamin E, and makes a visible difference in pore size. "It’s my favorite red carpet and beauty shoot secret," she says.
Milk Luminous Blur Stick Perfecting Primer
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"When I’m covering really large pores, I like a stick because it’s super easy to really get into the pores," says Irwin, adding that she's a fan of this illuminating Milk primer. "It's silicone-free and amazingly easy to use."