Pores tend to get a bad rap, but believe it or not, they actually serve an important purpose. These tiny openings in your skin are responsible for producing oil, AKA sebum, which helps keep our skin looking and feeling moisturized and glowy. We get it, though. Nobody’s out here trying to throw a party for their visible pores just because they’re serving up some moisturizing goodness. Visibly large pores are a thorn in anyone’s side who’s trying to achieve a smooth, refined complexion.
So what makes pores look big? Well, some people naturally have larger pores than others. Those of us with oily skin types may experience the appearance of enlarged pores thanks to too much sebum production, which tends to settle in your pores. Also, as we get older and our skin loses some of its elasticity, pores can start looking bigger.
If you’ve ever examined your skin in the mirror and walked away annoyed with large pores that seem to have betrayed your very best efforts, you’re in the right place. Though we can’t wave a magical wand that’ll shrink pores, we can teach you how to make them look smaller—practically invisible!—by using the right skincare products and pro makeup tips.
Cleanse Daily (Seriously)
Whether you’ve got oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, or some combination of the above, cleansing is non-negotiable. Washing your face once in the evening and again in the morning helps rinse away oil, dead skin cells, and product residue that can lead to the appearance of large pores.
Routine cleansing can help bring more balance to your skin so it’s not too oily or too dry. Keeping your skin clean can also assist in preventing clogged pores, reducing the prevalence of very unwelcomed blackheads or whiteheads. (If only you could just put up a sign that says, “Keep Out!”) Look for a gentle cleanser such as Confidence in a Cleanser, which nixes all traces of makeup while leaving your skin feeling soft, refreshed, and perfectly balanced.
Exfoliate to Refine Your Complexion
If your cleanser is a superhero, then consider exfoliants its partner in pore-blasting crime! One of the best ways to make pores look smaller is to use skincare products that help refine your complexion. Some of the best ingredients for the job include retinol and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid.
While you shouldn’t mix AHAs and retinol—or apply them during the same skincare session—you can alternate them every-other-night for a powerhouse pore-refining regimen. We recommend Hello Results Wrinkle-Reducing Daily Retinol Serum-in-Cream (bonus: it reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles, too) and Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum. Formulated with glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid, it gently exfoliates skin to refine texture while also supporting a smoother, supple feel. Even adding a product such as Bye Bye Dark Spots Niacinamide Serum can help visibly reduce dark spots and discoloration.
Give Your Skin Some Moisturizer TLC
Moisturizing is a must, even if your cleanser is moisturizing, and even if you live in a humid climate. And, yes, even if you’ve got oily skin. Not only will your skin look and feel more youthful and glowy when you moisturize every day, but doing so can also help minimize the look of large pores. This is because excessive skin dryness can cause your skin to produce more oil, leading to even more black heads or even making pores potentially appear larger. Choosing a moisturizer that replenishes moisture (without clogging your pores) can help!
And what better formula to turn to than the #1 anti-aging facial moisturizer in America, Confidence in a Cream Hydrating Moisturizer.* Not only did 100% of people say their skin felt moisturized and hydrated when using this moisturizer in a six-week study, but 93% also reported that it provides a smooth base for face makeup.** This quick-absorbing super cream is perfect for all skin types, especially dry skin, and delivers the perfect moisturizer option to help give your skin a supple, healthier, younger-looking appearance instantly and over time.
If you have oily skin, we recommend swapping in an oil-free moisturizer instead, such as Confidence in a Gel Lotion Moisturizer. Its weightless formulation helps smooth skin and leaves it looking radiant and primed for flawless makeup application. Learn why this beloved product is our best gel moisturizer for oily skin.
Get Strategic With Your Makeup Application
Cleansed and hydrated? It’s time to roll up your sleeves, unroll your makeup brush kit, and make your pores appear practically nonexistent with a little makeup action. This simple makeup routine for minimizing the look of pores comes straight from our makeup pros.
Step One: Primer
Can you shrink pores completely with makeup primer? No, but you can definitely make them look smaller! Before reaching for foundation, apply a makeup-gripping primer like Your Skin But Better Oil Free Makeup Primer. Not only does it help your makeup last longer, but it’s like magic in a bottle for refining the look of pores.
Step Two: Foundation
Using your Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7, buff on a medium to full-coverage foundation, like CC+ Cream Oil-Free Matte with SPF 40. This best-selling CC cream color corrects while creating a poreless-looking, natural matte finish.***
Step Three: Blush
Want extra credit on this pore-refining assignment? Add a pretty pop of color to your complexion by sweeping apore-blurring blush, such as Bye Bye Pores Blush, onto the apples of your cheeks.
Step Four: Setting Powder
Finally, you’ll want to seal in all that pore-smoothing magic via the final step: a setting powder. Bye Bye Pores Pressed Setting Powder works overtime for you by instantly diffusing the look of large pores. You can even apply it throughout the day for on-the-go touch-ups, or to help zap excess oil in its tracks.
With these tips for how to shrink pores’ appearance, you’ll be on your way to smooth-looking skin and way less mirror side-eyeing. For more makeup tips, check out this article on natural makeup.
- The NPD Group, Inc./US Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Skincare Product Dollar and Unit Sales, January-December 2019.
- The NPD Group/US Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Makeup Product Sales, January - December 2020.