The 19 Best Pore Minimizers of 2023

Our top overall pick is the Paula's Choice Resist Daily Treatment

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.
The 17 Best Pore Minimizers of 2022

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

Pores are just a fact of life, and no product or procedure will effectively get rid of their appearance. That said, we know of some standout skincare formulations that can make them a bit less glaring.

"Ingredients that are 'pore minimizers' simply help pores appear smaller by exfoliating your skin, unclogging pores, and preventing sun damage," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marie V. Hayag. Whether it's a toner, serum, moisturizer, or mask, she recommends products containing retinoids, niacinamide, AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids), and salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy acid or BHA).

"Salicylic acid exfoliates the skin and also penetrates the pores to dissolve the dead skin cells and debris that may be clogging them," Dr. Hayag tells Byrdie. "It also reduces excessive oil production, preventing clogged pores in the first place."

To find the very best in pore minimizing, we conducted hours of research on the best pore minimizers and tried out some of the top-rated products on the market, from toners to exfoliating treatments. Our testers used these products for weeks at a time, taking note of how well each clarified their skin and improved overall pore appearance. We considered dozens of products and board-certified dermatologists helped narrow down our selection.

Ahead, find the best pore minimizers out there today.

Best Overall

Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2 Percent BHA

4.8
Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2 Percent BHA

Amazon

What We Like
  • Replenishes skin barrier

  • Soothing

  • Doesn't leave a residue

  • Boosts radiance

What We Don't Like
  • May irritate sensitive skin

Paula's Choice is a fan-loved brand for many reasons, one being its exceptionally effective BHA toner. Containing 2 percent salicylic acid, plus peptides and allantoin, the Pore-Refining Treatment sloughs away dead cells and replenishes the skin barrier. It also soothes stressed complexions.

In addition to clearing debris from your pores and strengthening your dermis, this clever concoction plumps your skin, boosts collagen production, and creates a smoother complexion over time.

Price at time of publish: $36

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, peptides, allantoin | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone, combination | Size: 3 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"After using this pore-refining treatment just one time, I immediately noticed that my pores were minimized, and my skin was glowing. I mean glowing like a glazed donut, glowing." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester and Makeup Artist

What Our Editors Say

"I have relatively clear skin, but like many people, I still suffer from sebum and blackheads in my t-zone. Because of this, I’ve tried quite a few products, and Paula's Choice is the only one that works for me. It cleared up my pores and is easy to integrate into a simple skincare routine. Plus, you can’t beat the price." — Madeline Hirsch, Sr. News Editor

Best Budget

InstaNatural 7% Glycolic AHA Toner

InstaNatural 7% Glycolic AHA Toner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Balances oil production

  • Boosts radiance

What We Don't Like
  • May irritate sensitive skin

This toner from InstaNatural dissolves sebum with AHA all-stars like glycolic acid and lactic acid. It then calls on witch hazel to balance oil production and vitamin C to tackle dullness.

Price at time of publish: $15

Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, vitamin C, witch hazel | Skin Type: All | Size: 4 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore

Bioderma Sébium Pore Refiner Cream

Bioderma Sébium Pore Refiner Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Works well under makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Contains synthetic fragrance

Bioderma's Sébium Pore Refiner dissolves dead skin cells with salicylic acid, then soaks up excess oil and sebum with silica powder. Thanks to the formula's mattifying effect, this French pharmacy favorite works well under makeup.

Price at time of publish: $26

Key Ingredients: Silica powder, salicylic acid, agaric acid | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Splurge

SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Clearing Serum

skinbetter-alpharet-clearing-serum

Skin Better

What We Like
  • Noticeable results

  • Dermatologist-recommended

What We Don't Like
  • Results can take time

This fancy BHA serum is one of Dr. Hayag's favorites. "It improves skin tone, texture, appearance of pores, and clears skin," she tells Byrdie. "It also has multiple antioxidants alongside niacinamide (vitamin B3) and other moisturizing ingredients to prevent irritation."

Price at time of publish: $135

Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide, retinol | Skin Type: Mature, oily, acne-prone, combination | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Night Cream

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

4.2
RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Noticeable results

What We Don't Like
  • Small bottle

RoC Retinol Correxion is your best bet for a night cream. As Dr. Hayag explains, "Retinoids have many functions, including clearing clogged pores, exfoliating dead skin cells, and improving the look of pores."

Price at time of publish: $30

Key Ingredients: Retinol, minerals | Skin Type: Dry, mature, oily, combination | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

Byrdie / Leigh Weingus

What Our Testers Say

"Overall, I was very happy with RoC’s Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream. On top of being affordable, it didn’t irritate my skin, and I noticed a reduction in fine lines within a week." — Leigh Weingus, Product Tester

Best Cleanser

The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Balances oil production

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note the bottle can leak

If you're just dipping your toes into the world of BHA skincare, this budget-friendly cleanser from The Inky List is a great place to start. The mild foaming formula dislodges dead cells from your pores and minimizes excess sebum, all while washing away the day and soothing irritation.

Price at time of publish: $12

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, zinc, allantoin | Skin Type: Combination, oily, acne-prone | Size: 5 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Toner

Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner

4.2
Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner

Perricone MD

What We Like
  • Gently exfoliates

  • Noticeable results

  • Balances oil production

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

After cleansing, reach for this pore-minimizing toner, which promises to exfoliate, refine, and control oil production while prepping your skin for the next step. Though some folks balk at its pungent smell, this almost makes us trust the no-nonsense formula even more.

Price at time of publish: $45

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, vitamin C, copper | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 4 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Serum

Glossier Super Pure

Glossier Super Pure

Amazon

What We Like
  • Non-irritating

  • Balances oil production

What We Don't Like
  • Small bottle

Formulated with zinc and niacinamide, Glossier Super Pure is said to combat sebum production and balance your complexion. "Niacinamide also helps the appearance of pores," says Dr. Hayag.

Price at time of publish: $29

Key Ingredients: Zinc, niacinamide | Skin Type: All | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Multitasker

Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum

Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum

Amazon

What We Like
  • Generous amount

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Balances oil production

What We Don't Like
  • Contains synthetic fragrance

  • Contains dye

Who says you can't consolidate skincare steps? Fenty Fat Water is a toner-serum hybrid that balances oil production, fades dark spots, and fights shine. We like that it contains niacinamide, which Dr. Hayag says "increases ceramide biosynthesis and helps restore the skin's moisture barrier."

Price at time of publish: $30

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, vitamin C, witch hazel, Japanese raisin tree | Skin Type: All | Size: 5 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Exfoliator

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

4.3
 Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive Pore Exfoliating Treatment

Sephora

What We Like
  • Improves skin texture

  • Noticeable results

  • Balances oil production

What We Don't Like
  • May be too harsh on sensitive skin

When it comes to effective at-home skincare treatments, ExfoliKate is one for the books. Containing naturally exfoliating fruit enzymes, plus AHA and BHA, it pulls out all the stops to loosen up pore-clogging debris. It also tackles sebum production.

Price at time of publish: $28

Key Ingredients: Fruit enzymes, lactic acid, salicylic acid | Skin Type: Balanced, mature, oily, combination | Size: 2 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"I looked in the mirror and instantly saw brighter skin." — Bianca Lambert, Product Tester

Best Lotion

Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Stay-Matte Hydrator

Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Stay-Matte Hydrator

Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Mattifying

  • Oil-free

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it might break up makeup coverage

Whether you use it as a moisturizer, serum, or makeup primer, you can count on Clinique's Stay-Matte Hydrator to soak up sebum and keep excess oil under control for up to eight hours. We love it as a base for makeup, too.

Price at time of publish: $44

Key Ingredients: Silica, St. Paul's wort extract | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone, combination | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Primer

Dr. Brandt Skincare Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer

4.8
Earn 225 reward points when purchasing this product as a rewards member*

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Balances oil production

  • Mattifying

  • Works well under makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Small bottle

It can be tricky to minimize the look of pores when wearing a full face of makeup, but this mattifying primer is up for the task. Red clover extract helps balance oil production to shrink the appearance of pores, while a BHA derivative gently exfoliates to create a smooth canvas.

Price at time of publish: $48

Key Ingredients: Red clover flower extract, capryloyl salicylic acid | Skin Type: Oily, combination, balanced | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

dr. brandt skincare pores no more pore refiner primer

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

What Our Testers Say

"It felt so lightweight and blended well with the various foundations I tried it with. I noticed a major difference in the oil production of my skin throughout the day. My skin looked smooth and velvety all day, and I did not need to touch up my makeup." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Moisturizer

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Moisturizer

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Non-comedogenic

  • Dermatologist-developed

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

Dr. Dennis Gross is a brand you can trust when it comes to minimizing the look of pores. Thanks to a blend of farnesol, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and squalane, this brilliantly lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer encourages cell turnover. It also prevents breakouts and supports the skin barrier.

Price at time of publish: $72

Key Ingredients: Farnesol, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, squalane | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Size: 2 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Mature Skin

BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner

4.2
BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Absorbs quickly

  • Smoothes skin texture

  • Brightens complexion

What We Don't Like
  • Can sting once applied

As skin matures, pores tend to appear more visible. This gel-cream serum contains 20 percent pure vitamin C for a brighter skin tone, but it also works to unclog pores and reduce their appearance through the use of tartaric acid. The result is bright and firm skin that is smooth to the touch.

Price at time of publish: $85

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, Tartaric Acid, Squalane, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) | Skin Type: Mature | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"Over the course of the three-week testing period, I noticed my skin began to brighten as its texture continued to improve." — Jenna Igneri, Product Tester

Best Sunscreen

Exuviance Daily Corrector SPF 35 Moisturizer

Exuviance Daily Corrector SPF 35 Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Balances oil production

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it has a slight white cast

This non-comedogenic face sunscreen boasts broad-spectrum SPF 35 protection while balancing oil production, boosting your complexion, and reducing the appearance of pores.

Price at time of publish: $49

Key Ingredients: Avobenzone, octinoxate, octisalate | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone, combination | Size: 1.4 ounces | SPF: 35 | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Mask

Temi Botanical Masque

Temi Botanical Masque

Amazon

What We Like
  • Minimizes inflammation

  • Unclogs pores

  • Balances oil production

What We Don't Like
  • Has to be mixed with liquid

This anti-inflammatory mask calls on kaolin clay and maca to draw out impurities from your pores, then soaks up excess oil, sloughs off dead skin cells, and soothes with chamomile.

Key Ingredients: Kaolin clay, maca, chamomile | Skin Type: Oily, combination, sensitive, balanced | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Peel

Wishful by Huda Beauty Rose Quartz Lift & Glow Peel-Off Face Mask

Wishful by Huda Beauty Rose Quartz Lift & Glow Peel-Off Face Mask

Sephora

What We Like
  • Balances oil production

  • Tightens complexion

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note that application can be tricky

If you're more of a peel person, go with Lift & Glow. This pretty-in-pink mask goes on like a gel and dries into an iridescent finish. When it peels off, it takes dirt, oil, and pore-clogging sebum along with it.

Price at time of publish: $39

Key Ingredients: Rose quartz, witch hazel | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best K-Beauty

CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Amazon

What We Like
  • Tightens complexion

  • Dermatologist-tested

  • Calms redness

What We Don't Like
  • Results take time

We're also big fans of CosRx Blackhead Power Liquid, which contains generous doses of salicylic acid and niacinamide. "These factors help your skin achieve a 'tighter' look, reducing the appearance of pores," says Dr. Hayag.

Price at time of publish: $25

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, niacinamide, betaine salicylate | Skin Type: All | Size: 3.4 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Exfoliating Pads

Bevel Exfoliating Toner

Exfoliating Toner for Face by Bevel

Amazon

What We Like
  • Evens skin tone

  • Non-drying

  • Balances oil production

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

If you prefer to exfoliate with single-use toner pads, we recommend these from Bevel. Its star ingredients are glycolic acid and niacinamide, which are two of Dr. Hayag’s favorite ingredients for reducing the appearance of pores. This formula also has aloe vera to soothe and hydrate, which is a must if AHA’s tend to dry out your skin.

Price at time of publish: $14

Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, niacinamide, witch hazel, aloe vera | Skin Type: Acne-prone, combination, oily, mature | Size: N/A | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Final Verdict

Our number one pick is Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2 Percent BHA, a fan-favorite toner containing exfoliating BHA, replenishing peptides, and soothing allantoin. For folks on a budget, we recommend InstaNatural's 7 percent Glycolic AHA Toner. And if you're open to splurging, your best bet is the dermatologist-approved SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Clearing Serum.

Dr. Brandt Skincare Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer
Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

Meet the Expert

  • Marie V. Hayag, MD, of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics, is a New York-based board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai Hospital.
  • Dr. Amy S. Ross is a dermatologist in Tampa, Florida who specializes in Mohs micrographic surgery and laser treatment of skin disorders.

What to Look For in a Pore Minimizer

Exfoliating Ingredients

This is by far the most important criterion. "When dead skin cells build up in the pores, they make them appear much larger," says dermatologist Dr. Amy S. Ross. "Choosing a pore minimizer that contains chemical exfoliants like fruit acids or physical exfoliants like jojoba beads will help minimize that build-up," she explains.

Hydrating Ingredients

"Your pores will also be much less prominent if your skin is well-hydrated," points out Ross. Look for lightweight hydrating ingredients—glycerin and hyaluronic acid—in a pore minimizer to help impart an extra hit of hydration even before you apply moisturizer. 

Dr. Brandt Skincare Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer
Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca
FAQ
  • How do you minimize pores?

    “The size of your pores is genetically determined, so there is no way to make them physically smaller,” explains Ross. "However, you can make them look smaller by keeping your skin hydrated, exfoliating regularly, protecting yourself from the sun, and using a dedicated pore minimizing product," she says.

  • When should you apply a pore minimizer?

    "Pore minimizers should be used after you wash your face, but before you apply any moisturizer or sun protection," says Ross. Moisturizers that work as pore minimizers can be used as the last step of your routine at night and before SPF in the morning.

  • How often should you use a pore minimizer?

    According to Ross, "they should be used twice daily, morning and night, immediately after cleansing."

Why Trust Byrdie

This article was written and updated by Theresa Holland, a freelance copywriter specializing in beauty and commerce. Before making her final selections, she interviewed a board-certified dermatologist for product suggestions and formulation considerations, referenced a long list of peer-reviewed resources, and considered myriad products. From the above, she has personally tried Paula's Choice, InstaNatural, CosRx, Clinique, Kate Somerville, RoC, The Inkey List, and Dr. Dennis Gross. Theresa covers skincare, makeup, and lifestyle products at Byrdie.

Updated by Shannon Stubbs
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Flament F, Francois G, Qiu H, et al. Facial skin pores: a multiethnic studyClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:85-93. Published 2015 Feb 16. doi:10.2147/CCID.S74401

  2. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:455-461. doi:10.2147/CCID.S84765

  3. Kubyshkin V. Stabilization of the triple helix in collagen mimicking peptides. Org Biomol Chem. 2019 Aug;17(35):8031-8047. doi:10.1039/c9ob01646e

  4. Savić, Vesna Lj et al. Comparative Study of the Biological Activity of Allantoin and Aqueous Extract of the Comfrey Root. Phytotherapy research : PTR vol. 29,8 (2015): 1117-22. doi:10.1002/ptr.5356

  5. Kim SJ, et al. The effect of physically applied alpha hydroxyl acids on the skin pore and comedone. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2015 Oct;37(5):519-25. doi: 10.1111/ics.12244.

  6. Thring TS, Hili P, Naughton DP. Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells. J Inflamm (Lond). 2011 Oct 13;8(1):27. doi: 10.1186/1476-9255-8-27. PMID: 21995704; PMCID: PMC3214789.

  7. Sarkar R, et al. Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available? J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2013 Jan-Mar; 6(1): 4–11. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.110089.

  8. Araújo, Lidiane & Addor, Flavia & Campos, Patrícia. Use of silicon for skin and hair care: An approach of chemical forms available and efficacy. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia. 91. 331-335. 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20163986.

  9. Mekas M, et al. An Evaluation of Efficacy and Tolerability of Novel Enzyme Exfoliation Versus Glycolic Acid in Photodamage Treatment. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. 2015 Nov;14(11):1306-19.

  10. Circosta C et al. Effects of isoflavones from red clover (Trifolium pratense) on skin changes induced by ovariectomy in rats. Phytotherapy research : PTR vol. 20,12 (2006): 1096-9. doi:10.1002/ptr.2017

  11. Katsuyama, M et al. A novel method to control the balance of skin microflora Part 2. A study to assess the effect of a cream containing farnesol and xylitol on atopic dry skin. Journal of dermatological science vol. 38,3 (2005): 207-13. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2005.01.003

  12. Huang ZR, Lin YK, Fang JY. Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology. Molecules. 2009;14(1):540-554. doi:10.3390/molecules14010540

  13. Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013 Apr;4(2):143-6. doi: 10.4103/2229-5178.110593. PMID: 23741676; PMCID: PMC3673383.

  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29642579/

  15. Miraj, Sepide, and Samira Alesaeidi. A systematic review study of therapeutic effects of Matricaria recuitta chamomile (chamomile). Electronic physician vol. 8,9 3024-3031. 20 Sep. 2016, doi:10.19082/3024

  16. The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Do Face Masks Really Work? The "Magic" Behind Face Masks — and How to Get the Most Out of Them. Penn Medicine.

  17. Dal'Belo SE, Gaspar LR, Maia Campos PM. Moisturizing effect of cosmetic formulations containing Aloe vera extract in different concentrations assessed by skin bioengineering techniquesSkin Res Technol. 2006;12(4):241-246. doi:10.1111/j.0909-752X.2006.00155.x

  18. Reuter J, Jocher A, Stump J, Grossjohann B, Franke G, Schempp CM. Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema testSkin Pharmacol Physiol. 2008;21(2):106-110. doi:10.1159/000114871

Related Stories