We all have pores. Some of us have tiny ones, but many of us have pores that are more visible, especially when topped with layers of makeup. There's nothing wrong with larger pores (and no procedure or product will get rid of pores) but, pore-minimizing primers can make them look a little less obvious by gently filling them in for a more even texture. This base provides a smooth canvas over which makeup can be applied.
“Primers won’t actually shrink the pore, but they can help camouflage pore size temporarily—especially silicone-based formulations,” says board-certified dermatologist Carmen Castilla, M.D. And, since pore-minimizing primers have a subtle blurring effect, you can expect makeup to apply more smoothly and evenly, giving you a flawless-looking complexion.
Ready to add a pore-minimizing primer to your makeup routine? We tapped an expert for recommendations and tried a few top-rated products for ourselves to compile this list of primers that actually work. We looked for active ingredients like dimethicone (or another type of silicone) or skin plumping hyaluronic acid in each formula. We also took into consideration how well the formulas settle into skin, if they are non-comedogenic, and how well they mattify skin, because oily skin only exacerbates the appearance of pores. We then cross referenced our expert-recommended picks with top-rated products and those that have garnered five-star reviews.
Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer
Can be worn with makeup or on bare skin
As far as pore-minimizing primers go, this one from Benefit is a classic. It’s a tried-and-true beauty staple that mattifies skin on contact and acts like a real-life beauty filter. The formula contains dimethicone, a silicone-based polymer used to lubricate and condition skin, as well as a vitamin E derivative to help foundation go on smoother and last way longer. Plus, it’s translucent and beautifully complements all skin tones without flashback or white casts.
It comes in two sizes—full-size and mini—so whether you’re traveling, doing makeup on the go, or don’t want to commit to anything just yet, you’ve got options.
The only caveat: The brand doesn't test or claim that their products are non-comedogenic. If you’re prone to breakouts or irritation, you’ll have to check out the ingredient list yourself or tap your dermatologist to find out if it’s suitable for your skin.
Price at time of publish: $34
Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Vitamin E derivative tocopheryl acetate | Size: 1.5 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
What Our Editors Say
“I recently started using the Benefit POREfessional Face Primer and I wish I had found it sooner. It makes my skin feel soft and smooth before applying foundation while still providing a lightweight finish. I feel like I have a beauty filter on IRL every time I use it because it minimizes my pores and blemishes so well.” —Chloe Caldwell, Commerce Writer
Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer
Affordable and accessible
Natural skin finish
Can feel slippery on oily skin
The Maybelline New York Baby Skin Pore-Minimizing Primer proves that a great primer doesn’t need to break the bank. Loaded with super-smoothing ingredients like dimethicone and bitter cherry extract, this primer offers pore-less, baby-soft skin with a natural skin finish. We love that it comes in a clear shade—so it’s ideal for all skin tones—and works to elongate the life of the makeup you put on top of it without messing up your color match.
Something to keep in mind: Some say it can feel slippery, especially on oily skin. If your skin is on the shinier side, skip this one and opt for something more mattifying or keep a blotting powder on hand for touch-ups throughout the day.
Price at time of publish: $8
Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Bitter cherry extract | Size: 0.67 oz.
E.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer
Not the most hygienic
To mitigate the look of pores and balance out your overall complexion, look to the skin-perfecting E.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer. The velvety soft primer is infused with squalane (in addition to smoothing dimethicone, silicones, and rice bran wax) to grip makeup in place for flawless all-day wear. It comes in one translucent shade that works well on all skin types and tones.
The putty comes in a palm-sized pot that requires you to dip your fingers directly into the formula. The packaging isn’t ideal (there’s an opportunity for cross-contamination and bacteria from grubby fingers) but as long as you use clean hands or rely on the brand’s Putty Primer Applicator tool, you should be fine.
Price at time of publish: $10
Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Silicones, Squalane, Rice bran wax | Size: 0.74 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best With SPF
Supergoop! Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40
Great for acne-prone skin
Contains SPF 40
Has a peachy tint
If you have prominent pores and acne-prone skin, you’ll love this sunscreen-slash-primer from Supergoop. It provides SPF 40 sun protection (sans white cast or shine) and helps makeup glide on smoothly by blurring texture and pores. The best part about this formula is that you can wear it on its own without makeup or as the final step in your skincare routine before layering on concealer or foundation. Either way, you’ll love how the product refines the look of uneven skin tone and texture, all while preventing sun damage.
I’ve personally used this formula every day for over a year and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll try another sunscreen or primer. It’s smooth and rich but once it makes contact with your skin, it leaves a powdery, mattifying finish. I’m constantly in awe of how it camouflages my enlarged pores, minimizes shine, and even hides breakouts.
Price at time of publish: $38
Key Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Wild butterfly ginger, Bamboo extract | Size: 1.5 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
What Our Editors Say
“When I lived in Los Angeles I was out in the sun everyday, all year round. This was the only thing I put on my face makeup-wise, because it gives an amazing finish, practically erasing the larger pores on my cheeks. It also does an amazing job at mattifying oily skin, which will make not just pores but any blemish or crease on your face look one million times better. Knowing I was protecting my skin with SPF was icing on the cake. Now that I’m back in New York, it’s still my go-to, even during the winter months.” — Jill Di Donato, Senior Commerce Editor
Rare Beauty Always an Optimist Pore Diffusing Primer
Cushiony gel consistency
Not ideal for full glam
Loaded with skin-soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and green tea extract, this primer from Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty is great for those with large pores and blemishes. It’s hydrating and cushiony smooth upon application and works to blur the look of pores, fine lines, and more, while also helping to extend makeup wear and eliminate shine throughout the day. The primer works great by itself on clean skin or under makeup, but no matter how you use it, you’ll love how it blurs the look of pores quickly and leaves skin with a soft-focus (and almost airbrushed) effect. It’s ideal for everyday makeup and lighter looks, however it might not offer the grip needed for a full glam moment.
Price at time of publish: $28
Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Hyaluronic acid, Green tea extract, Vitamin E | Size: 0.94 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
BareMinerals Prime Time Pore Minimizing Primer
Evens out the look of skin texture
Spreadable, gel-like consistency
Can feel oily after some time
This new primer from Bare Minerals is kind of magical—it starts off liquidy but dries down to a luxurious matte finish that hides the look of pores in an instant. It has a gel-like consistency and actually works like a filter to hide imperfections and prep the skin for a flawless foundation and concealer application. The formula contains dimethicone, like most of the other products on this list, and buchu leaf extract, which minimizes the appearance of pores and absorbs sebum. The only caveat is that it can feel oily on the skin after some time.
Price at time of publish: $28
Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Buchu leaf extract | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Cruelty Free: Yes
Makeup For Ever Step 1 Pore Minimizer Primer
Matte finish great for oily skin
Limited shade range
If you find yourself reaching for blotting papers or powder after a few hours, chances are your pores produce excess oil. Though there’s not much you can do to change your skin type, there are a few products that can help you manage. This mattifying primer from Makeup For Ever is one of them. It’s been around for years and has graced the makeup bags of pro makeup artists and beauty-lovers alike because of how effectively it blurs shine and fills texture without pilling. If we could change anything about this primer, it would be to extend the shade range past one peachy-toned color. Once blended in, it works well for a wide range of skin tones, but we’d love to see more variety.
Price at time of publish: $29
Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Ginseng | Size: 1 oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty Free: Yes
What Our Editors Say
“This was my go-to smoothing primer for years. You need the tiniest dollop, so a tube lasts forever. It's great on large pores and texture to blur imperfections and creates a smooth canvas for foundation. This is especially good for oily or combination skin as it also seems to control and keep a matte finish for longer. I also love the squeeze tube packaging for travel.” — Shannon Bauer, Senior Commerce Editor
Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer
Contains skincare ingredients
Contains moderately comedogenic oils
This primer does more than just prime—it blurs, fills, smoothes, and grips makeup for all-day wear while also containing good-for-skin ingredients. With one tiny dollop of product, you can expect the primer to double down on pores and texture, giving skin a focus so soft, it’s reminiscent of an Instagram filter. Plus, it’s loaded with skincare ingredients like antioxidant-rich vitamins E and C, pore-minimizing green bean extract, and mineral pigments to soothe and soften skin while you wear it. The only thing we don’t love about the ingredient list is that it contains hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is known to be moderately comedogenic (meaning it might clog your pores).
Price at time of publish: $39
Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Vitamins E and C, Green bean extract, Mineral pigments | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
What Our Editors Say
“This is like the heavy-duty cousin to Makeup For Ever. It's more of a thick cream texture and does a fantastic job filling deeper skin grooves—wrinkles, old piercing holes, scars etc. The packaging is glass and a bit more cumbersome, but the formula is well worth it.” — Shannon Bauer, Senior Commerce Editor
Smashbox Photo Finish Smooth and Blur Oil Free Foundation Primer
Two generous sizes
Locks makeup in place for hours
Not for acne-prone skin
If you’re going to spend time and money on a pore-minimizing primer, you’re going to want it to last. This primer from Smashbox is widely known for its ability to lock in makeup for hours. You’ll notice a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and pores upon application, resulting in a flawless (yet natural) finish. Best of all, the formula contains antioxidants to help protect your skin from pollutants, damage, and stress. It’s available in two decently generous sizes (1.0 oz. and 1.7 oz.) that ensure you won’t run out for a while. Unfortunately, some say it causes breakouts, so be sure to try the primer out on a small patch of skin to see how it’ll react before applying it to your entire face.
Price at time of publish: $42
Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Vitamins A and E, Safflower, grape and kola seed extracts | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
We love the Benefit POREfessional Pore-Minimizing Primer, a cult-classic primer that’s stood the test of time. The formula smooths over pores in seconds and is ideal for all skin types and tones. If you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Maybelline New York Baby Skin Pore-Minimizing Primer. This drugstore formula glides over enlarged pores and leaves behind a natural finish that looks like your real skin, just smoother.
Meet the Expert
- Carmen Castilla, M.D. is a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist. As an internationally-recognized thought leader in skincare, and holistic medicine, she has published numerous papers and textbook chapters, is an expert source for media, and has a passion for sharing her evidence-based knowledge. She is also a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
What to Look for in a Pore-Minimizing Primer
When shopping for a pore-minimizing primer, be sure to check out the ingredients. Most formulas will have dimethicone (or another type of silicone) high up on the ingredient list. These ingredients are what give primers their super-smooth glide and blendability. Additional ingredients mean additional skincare benefits. For example, the hyaluronic acid in the Rare Beauty Pore Diffusing Primer binds moisture to the skin, making it appear more hydrated and plump. Similarly, the squalane in the E.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer helps to further reduce the appearance of fine lines and softens skin texture.
Size matters a lot when it comes to cosmetic products. Regardless of the cost-to-size ratio (which also matters, depending on your budget), you’ll want to look for a product that you’ll get the most use out of. Products that come in sizes 1 oz. or higher (like the Smashbox Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer) are ideal for repeated daily use, whereas smaller sizes won’t last too long.
It’s also important to consider each formula’s additional benefits. The Supergoop Mineral Mattescreen Sunscreen, for example, doubles as a sunscreen to provide SPF 40 sun protection while also minimizing the look of pores and texture on the skin. Tarte’s Timeless Smoothing Primer, on the other hand, contains antioxidant-rich vitamin C, which is known to slow the rate of free-radical damage to collagen that can contribute to dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles.
Does primer help reduce the look of pores?
A silicone based primer can help camouflage pore size temporarily but will not shrink the pore. Silicones (namely, dimethicone) helps to smooth over the surface of the pore, causing it to look smaller or even undetectable.
What causes enlarged pores?
According to Dr. Castilla, enlarged pores have four main causes: Oiliness of skin, age, sex, and genetics. “Pores are the passageway by which the sebaceous (oil) glands secrete sebum onto the skin to maintain skin moisturization,” she explains. “People who produce more sebum have oilier skin and, in general, larger pores.” She also adds that as we age, we lose the elasticity and collagen that supports the pore opening, and this allows the pore to dilate.
“The male hormone, testosterone, increases oil production as well,” she adds. “Due to this increased level of testosterone, men generally tend to have larger pores than women.”
Is it possible to shrink pores?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to shrink pores completely. “Retinoids can theoretically help if used long term, but the results will be subtle,” Dr. Castilla says. “A series of laser treatments targeted to stimulate collagen production can be beneficial, too.”
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust Byrdie
Caitlyn Martyn is a staff commerce writer at Byrdie, where she covers all things beauty. An avid product tester, Caitlyn likes to try the latest and greatest in makeup, skincare, and wellness to let readers know what’s worth it and what’s not. She has tried several humidifiers on this list, including the Canopy and the AquaOasis.
Flament F, Francois G, Qiu H, Ye C, Hanaya T, Batisse D, Cointereau-Chardon S, Seixas MD, Dal Belo SE, Bazin R. Facial skin pores: a multiethnic study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 Feb 16;8:85-93. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S74401. PMID: 25733918; PMCID: PMC4337418.
Juncan AM, Moisă DG, Santini A, Morgovan C, Rus LL, Vonica-Țincu AL, Loghin F. Advantages of Hyaluronic Acid and Its Combination with Other Bioactive Ingredients in Cosmeceuticals. Molecules. 2021 Jul 22;26(15):4429. doi: 10.3390/molecules26154429. PMID: 34361586; PMCID: PMC8347214.
Huang ZR, Lin YK, Fang JY. Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology. Molecules. 2009 Jan 23;14(1):540-54. doi: 10.3390/molecules14010540. PMID: 19169201; PMCID: PMC6253993.
Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017 Aug 12;9(8):866. doi: 10.3390/nu9080866. PMID: 28805671; PMCID: PMC5579659.