Beauty Secrets for Women With Large Pores

Updated: Feb. 10, 2017

It's nearly impossible to shrink oversized pores, but there are clever ways to make them appear smaller. We got skincare and beauty pros to spill the pore-minimizing strategies that will give you the clear complexion you deserve.


Stay away from silicone

Often used in cosmetics to make formulas softer and easier to spread, silicone is a no-no for women with large pores, according to Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City dermatologist and creator of Sea Radiance skincare products. “Makeup products with silicone will clog pores and make them look worse,” she says. Steer clear of ingredients such as dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, and phenyltrimethicone—fancy names for silicone, in beauty products.


Fall in love with primer

Face primer was practically made for women with large pores, according to top makeup artist Lori Hamlin, who helps Padma Lakshmi get her gorgeous glow. “Primer will make the skin appear smoother and more even,” Hamlin says. “Pores are dramatically minimized and makeup stays in place longer.” Apply primer to the face and let it dry completely before putting on your makeup. Hamlin’s favorite primers are from ByTerry, Hourglass, and Clinique. Then there’s Benefit’s POREfessional Facial Primer, which was formulated specifically to minimize the appearance of pores. “Think of it as a spackle for your face, for lack of a more appealing word,” says Rebecca Perkins, co-owner and head makeup artist at Rouge New York makeup salon. You can even use it over your makeup, rather than under, to help makeup stay in place. (Related: Don’t miss the things dermatologists do overnight to wake up with younger-looking skin.)


Look beyond the facial

Facials can refresh and improve the appearance of skin, for sure. But to really show your pores who’s boss, consider going higher tech. At her New York City spa, Aidia Bicaj, aesthetician to the stars (including Kyra Sedgwick and J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons) uses a “remodeling” treatment to shrink pores. The technique employs a micro-current machine to tone and shape facial muscles and promote skin cell regeneration. Sejal Shah, MD, a board certified dermatologist and RealSelf advisor, swears by the Clear and Brilliant laser and micro needling to combat large pores. “I like to combine these in-office treatments with at-home products containing either a retinoid, alpha hydroxy acids, and/or beta hydroxy acids,” she says. Contact a dermatologist or facialist in your area to learn which treatments they recommend for large pores. Learn more about the transformative powers of laser treatments.


Keep your compact intact

Who knew the packaging of your powder compact could affect the appearance of pores? Take Hamlin’s advice: If you carry a compact, don’t throw away the liner that comes between the sponge and the product at purchase. “The liner will prevent oil on the sponge from contaminating the product,” she says. Women with enlarged pores tend to have oilier skin, and “most women don’t realize that the surface of their powder will darken and harden from contact with oil and bacteria left on the applicator over time.” Check out the other beauty blunders you’re probably making.


Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate

“Large pores are caused by dead skin cells that don’t exfoliate properly and block pores,” Dr. Jaliman explains. “You usually see this in people with oily or acne-prone skin.” That’s why all of our experts agree that exfoliating is the best way to keep pores clean and minimize their appearance. “The cleaner the skin, the smoother it looks!” Perkins says. Try using a sonic cleansing system (like Clarisonic or Michael Todd Beauty Soniclear Petite Face Brush) with a mild cleanser. “This helps vibrate out the dead skin from the pores to make them look as small as possible,” Jaliman says. You can also use a chemical exfoliant with glycolic acid or salicylic acid to help dissolve the glue holding dead skin cells in place on your skin. Hamlin recommends M61 Power Glow Peel. We also like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel.


Blotting papers are your BFF

Both Dr. Jaliman and Hamlin believe blotting papers are your secret weapon for battling large pores. “Using blotting papers on the area with enlarged pores keeps the oil down and makes pores look smaller,” Jaliman says. Hamlin notes that blotting papers are the easiest, quickest way to refresh your makeup. “Always blot oil first and then reapply makeup as necessary,” she says. Hamlin’s go-to papers? Shiseido PURENESS, made specifically for oil control. We’re also fans of Tatcha Blotting Papers, made with two ancient oil-absorbing ingredients, Abaca Leaf and Gold Flake. (Related: Don’t miss the worst skincare advice dermatologists have ever heard.)


Keep it light

If you have large pores, beware of skincare products that are comedogenic, or pore-blocking, says Dr. Jaliman. (Think heavy moisturizers and thick, creamy foundations.) Instead, go for lighter makeup products, including water-based liquid foundations instead of oil-based ones, such as Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation or Cover FX Natural Finish Oil-Free Foundation. Perkins recommends a mineral-based powder foundation with a skincare component. Try bareMinerals All-Over Face Color with complexion-correcting anti-inflammatory ingredients. (Related: Steal the morning beauty routines of people who always have radiant skin.)


Don a mask

Pores look noticeably larger when they’re stuffed with dirt and oil, so do a deep detox weekly or even semi-weekly with masks designed to suck the gunk out. The star ingredient here is charcoal—its negative charge attracts and binds to positively charged toxins, like a magnet pulling dirt and oil out of pores. Find it in: Dermalogica Charcoal Masque, which is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and also has sulfur to sop up oil, plus physical and chemical exfoliants to promote cell turnover, brighten skin and refine pores over time. A second great choice is Boscia Luminizing Black Mask, with activated charcoal to absorb impurities and excess oil, calcium montmorillonite clay to gently slough off dead skin cells, plus anti-aging vitamin C and antioxidants.


Don’t skip the moisturizer (even if you’re scared of oil)

Attention women with large pores: Don’t be afraid to moisturize! “Healthy, hydrated skin will be more plump and even, which always makes pores appear smaller,” Hamlin says. Just be sure to choose an oil-free moisturizer, like belif Oil Control Fresh, with sebum-control powder, and for anti-aging benefits, iS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion, with botanicals, peptides, antioxidants, and DNA-repair enzymes.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest