Before I begin, full disclosure: Large pores are part of that genetic lottery that randomly allocates long lashes, full lips or a wonky left eyebrow. Essentially, no product can dramatically change the natural size of your pores.
But (in beauty there’s always a but) there are plenty of products that can make open pores appear smaller, tidy them up, pull out all the debris that leads to golf-ball like dimples, fill ’em in and smooth ’em over so they magically vanish into your face. So that’s what I’ll be talking about here, “shrinking” enlarged pores in three easy steps.
1. Cleanse with acids
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? But acids in your cleansing regime are a very good thing indeed. Enlarged pores usually mean your cleanser’s not going deep enough, so dead skin cells, tiny bits of makeup and grime sit around on top of your skin clogging pores and creating those sad saucer-like welts. Two things can fix this: Glycolic acid, a tiny molecule that nibbles away surface debris and stops anything hanging around long enough to become a problem, and Salycilic acid, which penetrates pores and clears out dead cells after the fact. Look for both in cleansing and exfoliating products, ideally in gentle percentages that you can use daily. Here are my two top buys including a new and improved version of cult Beauty Ed’s favourite Alpha H Liquid Gold. This Rose gold reboot includes added antioxidants plus moisture-boosting rose and Lotus.
For Glycolic: Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose, £34
For Salycilic: Resist Anti-Aging Pore Refining 2% BHA Exfoliant, £25, Paula’s Choice
2. Attack oil with a mask
Ever used one of those pore-minimiser mud masks that shrink and harden like an old raisin on your face, visibly sucking the oil from your skin in the process? Not only are they disgusting and fascinating in equal measure, they are also amazing at deep cleaning pores of excess sebum, meaning fewer blackheads and pore-enlarging congestion. Use one twice a week for instant gratification and long term skin-smoothing results. My absolute favourite and endorsed by every A-lister going with a muddy selfie is GlamGlow Supermud. But a bargain pore strip by Biore, a brand dedicated entirely to pore-clearing with nicely-priced cleansers, scrubs and masks, does the dirty work nicely too.
Biore Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips, £8.39
Supermud Clearing Treatment, £49, GlamGlow
3. Smooth over with silicone
So you’ve done everything you can skincare-wise, your pores are spick and span but still visible enough to bother you. Welcome to my world! As I said before you can’t radically change your pore size, so after preventing unnatural enlargement it’s time to get creative with a great silicone-based primer. Silicones have a nice slippy texture so apply smoothly, then basically fill in any textural uneveness like lines, scars and (you guessed it) pores. They also grip onto your foundation keeping it in place and preventing pore-revealing makeup melt. Smashbox basically invented this category with Photo Finish, and it’s still one of the best. Or, try Benefit PoreFessional Matte Rescue Gel, which feels lovely and cooling on skin and doesn’t bobble up under makeup.
Photo Finish Foundation Primer, £25.50, Smashbox
The POREFessional Matte Rescue Gel, £21.50, Benefit