The Best 12 Face Masks for Pores of 2022 for a Flawless Complexion

Our best overall pick is Glamglow SUPERMUD Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask

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Byrdie / Michela Buttignol

Pores: Everyone’s got ‘em, and there’s not much you can do about ‘em. Okay, so maybe we are oversimplifying slightly, but that’s the basic gist of it. We all have pores—tiny openings at the skin's surface. And, contrary to what’s commonly said, there’s nothing you can do to change the *actual* size of your pores. How big they are is a matter of genetics, but what can change how big or small they look is essentially how much gunk is inside of them.

Byrdie Researched and Approved

Our best overall pick is Glamglow SUPERMUD Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask, which contains both exfoliating acids and purifying charcoal to suck gunk out of pores gently, yet effectively. For a more affordable option, consider Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, a buzzy Amazon-fave that uses clay to zap acne and blemishes in the most natural, powerful way possible. 

Clogged pores appear larger (and, in the case of blackheads, often darker), while ones that are clear are less noticeable. So, cleaning them out is a good place to start if you’re looking for a way to minimize the appearance of prominent pores. (Not to mention that clogged pores can also lead to bacterial build-up and acne.) Enter the beauty of a good pore-clearing mask. While it may not necessarily be a magic eraser, a mask can help to de-gunk pores and make them look smaller in a matter of minutes.

We conducted hours of research on the best face masks for pores, evaluating each formula on key ingredients and targeted benefits. We looked at how well each mask exfoliates skin, reduces oil, and helps shrink the appearance of pores—all without irritating or drying out skin. We took into consideration a variety of skin concerns and types, as well as ease of application.

After considering dozens of formulas, we landed on these fan-favorites, guided by expert recommendations by a board-certified dermatologist. We also tried out a couple top-rated masks for pores, our testers taking note of noticeable results. Finally, each option on this list contains ingredients recommended by a board-certified dermatologist to help control oil production and clear pores of impurities and debris.

Ahead, find our favorite face masks for pores that can help them appear smaller, while clarifying skin.

Best Overall: GLAMGLOW SUPERMUD Instant Clearing Treatment Mask

4.7
GlamGlow Supermud

GlamGlow

What We Like
  • Clears pores

  • Clarifies skin without overdrying

  • Available in multiple sizes

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

This combines not one, not two, not three, but six different types of exfoliating acids for gentle exfoliation to help unclog pores (as well as generally make your skin look smoother and more even). As if that weren’t enough, it also touts activated charcoal, which may help to remove toxins and impurities from pores. It also works equally well on normal, combination, and acne-prone skin.

Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil | Active Ingredients: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), activated charcoal | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 0.5 / 1 / 1.7 / 3.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

4.6
Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay

Amazon

What We Like
  • Comes in a large tub

  • Effective formula

  • Contains just one ingredient

What We Don't Like
  • Can be a little drying

“Clay is a popular ingredient in masks for pores because it absorbs sebum and has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties,” explains New York City board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. She adds that there are many different types out there, all of which are very absorbent and great for removing potentially pore-clogging oil. This pick is actually just straight-up bentonite clay, which you can turn into a DIY face mask by combining it with water. It’s highly effective, sometimes almost too much so, so just err on the side of leaving it on for a shorter amount of time (about 5 minutes) until you’re sure it’s not too drying for your skin.

Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil | Active Ingredients: Calcium bentonite clay | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 1 lb. / 2 lb. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"While my skin didn’t have any wow-worthy results, more pores did appear smaller (especially on my nose)." — Bianca Lambert, Product Tester

Best for Oily Skin: Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask

Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask

Kiehl's

What We Like
  • Soothing on skin

  • Smooths out texture

  • Thick consistency

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more hydrating

According to King, clay masks are especially choice for oily skin (and can sometimes be too drying for other skin types). It touts both Amazonian white clay and bentonite clay to help purify pores and leaves skin feeling next-level deep cleansed and refreshed.

Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil | Active Ingredients: White clay, aloe | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 1 / 4.2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Combination Skin: Volition Beauty Detoxifying Silt Gelée Mask

Volition Detoxifying Silt Gelee

Volition

What We Like
  • Clears pores

  • Clarifies skin without overdrying

  • Skin feels cleansed and hydrated

What We Don't Like
  • Messy to use

If your skin is slick in some spots but dry and others, try this mask. It strikes the perfect balance, relying on silt and kaolin clay to help degunk pores, while at the same containing plenty of ingredients that simultaneously hydrate the skin and prevent it from feeling dry or stripped. Namely, safflower seed oil and shea butter, squalane, an effective emollient, just to name a few.

Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil, hydrates | Active Ingredients: Black silt, squalane | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Glytone Acne Treatment Mask

Glytone Acne Treatment Mask

Amazon

What We Like
  • Can be used before or after breakouts

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

As mentioned, clogged pores and acne can often go hand-in-hand. If that’s the situation with your skin, try this mask, a favorite of King’s. “It contains bentonite clay and sulfur to limit acne-causing P.acnes bacteria,” she says. (Yes, some research indicates that bentonite clay may also have antibacterial effects.)

Benefits: Clears pores, prevents new breakouts, helps clear existing breakouts | Active Ingredients: Sulfur, bentonite clay | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Acne-Prone Skin, Runner-Up: Lancer Skincare Clarifying Detox Mask

Lancer Clarifying Detox Mask with Green Tea + 3% Sulfur

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Great for both breakouts and clogged pores

  • Dries quickly and easy to remove

What We Don't Like
  • Has a bit of an unpleasant smell

  • Expensive

No matter whether you’re trying to minimize the look of prominent pores or are battling a breakout, reach for this mask. Green clay does the pore-purifying duties, while a three-percent concentration of anti-inflammatory sulfur helps combat blemishes and the associated redness, (as does green tea extract). It’s on the pricier side, but a little goes a long way, meaning one tube will last for quite a while.

Benefits: Clears pores and breakouts | Active Ingredients: Sulfur, green clay, green tea | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: Simple Kind to Skin Pink Clay Face Mask

Simple Kind to Skin Pink Clay Face Mask

Simple Kind

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Absorbs oil and soothes skin

What We Don't Like
  • Pink color can make it a bit messy

“This mask contains a combination of kaolin and bentonite clays to absorb oil, as well as calamine to soothe the skin and vitamin B3 to support the skin barrier,” says King of another one of her favorites. (Yes, calamine, as in the stuff you use if you have poison ivy.) It’s also dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic, not to mention rings in at a super affordable price.

Benefits: Absorbs oil | Active Ingredients: Kaolin clay, bentonite clay, calamine | Skin Type: Oily | Size: 3.38 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes| Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore, Runner-Up: Bioré Instant Warming Clay Charcoal Face Mask

4.8
Bioré Charcoal Instantly Warming Clay Facial Mask for Oily Skin

Amazon

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Single-use packets

  • Works in one minute

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • Not clean or cruelty-free

You probably think of this brand for their cult-classic blackhead strips, but this easy-to-use mask is another one of their effective pore-clearing products. The namesake ingredient helps to pull out unwanted gunk and grime—in just one minute. Plus, it has a pleasant warming sensation on contact and comes in convenient single-use packages that are great for travel.

Benefits: Clears pores | Active Ingredients: Charcoal | Skin Type: All | Size: 4 x.25 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

"After rinsing the mask off, I noticed that some of the pesky whiteheads on the left side of my nose were gone." —Bianca Lambert, Product Tester

Best Dual-Purpose: Acne Free Kaolin Clay Detox Mask

acnefree clay mask

Walmart

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Multi-tasking formula

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • May be a bit drying for some

King also likes this multi-tasker. “It can be used as either a mask or a cleanser, but either way, kaolin clay absorbs oil and reduces shine,” she says, adding that it’s a great choice for those who have oily or shiny skin. She also lauds it for the addition of some oil-dissolving salicylic acid for a bit of gentle exfoliation. (It also contains charcoal and zinc, the latter of which may also help tamp down oil.)

Benefits: Clears pores | Active Ingredients: Charcoal, kaolin clay, zinc, salicylic acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes| Byrdie Clean: No

Best Sheet Mask: Dr. Jart+ Pore Remedy Purifying Mud Mask

Dr. Jart+ Pore Remedy Purifying Mud Mask

Sephora

What We Like
  • Snug fit

  • Rare sheet mask option

What We Don't Like
  • Not particularly sustainable

  • Not clean or cruelty-free

Sheet masks are easy, mess-free, and ideal for travel. The only issue? It can be tough to find formulas for clogged pores (most of the sheet masks out there are for hydrating or brightening), making this option all the more noteworthy. Kaolin clay removes build-up and blackheads while sea salt and gluconolactone, a polyhydroxy acid, gently exfoliate. We also appreciate that it comes in a two-piece design that ensures a snug fit so that it stays put and you can actually do things while wearing it.

Benefits: Clears pores, exfoliates | Active Ingredients: Kaolin clay, sea salt, gluconolactone| Skin Type: All | Size: 1 | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Blackheads: Dermalogica Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask

Dermalogica Blackhead Fizzing Mask

Dermalogica

What We Like
  • Works quickly

  • Fizzing makes a fun sensorial experience

What We Don't Like
  • On the pricier side

To be fair, all of the products featured on this list are going to be effective for clearing blackheads, but this one really takes the cake. Sulfur and kaolin clay are the stars of the show, but they’re delivered via a special fizzing technology, that both makes for a fun sensorial experience and ensures the active ingredients penetrate deeper into pores. It also works in just three to five minutes.

Benefits: Clears pores and blackheads | Active Ingredients: Sulfur, kaolin clay | Skin Type: Oily, congested | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Tata Harper Purifying Mask

Tata Harper Purifying Pore & Blackhead Detox Mask

SpaceNK

What We Like
  • Completely clean formula

  • Luxurious scent and feel 

  • Great for all skin types


What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you want to treat yourself to a mask that gives off serious spa vibes, this is it. It relies on 100% natural ingredients, including kaolin clay, exfoliating fruit enzymes, and a laundry list of antioxidant-rich botanical and fruit extracts that also help to combat the damaging effects of free radicals caused by exposure to things such as pollution. It’s equal parts detoxifying and hydrating, meaning it’s great for all skin types. And, per the spa part of things, the lusciously creamy texture and (natural) fresh scent can’t be beat.

Benefits: Clears pores, combats free radicals | Active Ingredients: Kaolin clay | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

You may not be able to change the size of the pores, but there are plenty of face masks out there you can use to help them look smaller. The Glamglow SUPERMUD Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask earns our vote for best overall, combining exfoliating acids and purifying charcoal. If f you prefer sheet masks, consider the Dr. Jart+ Pore Remedy Purifying Mud Mask, an effective, single-use option.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Hadley King is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. She is also a Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and specializes in both medical and cosmetic dermatology.

What to Look for in Pore-Cleansing Face Masks

Clay

Typically, clay-based masks made with acids are recommended to take on your clogged or enlarged pores. Clay helps draw out impurities from the skin, aiming to leave it fresh, smooth, and clean. Note that when working with a clay mask such as Aztec Secret's Indian Healing Clay, do not leave on the skin for more than five to 10 minutes depending on your skin's sensitivity level.

Acids

Acids help unclog and minimize the look of your pores. Look for commonly used acids, such as lactic and salicylic acids, when scanning the ingredient lists before your purchase.

Emollients

Pore-cleansing products and masks can often be rough on the skin while going to work. Seeking masks with skin-soothing formulas to offset any wear and tear and help nourish the skin after your pores have been cleaned.

FAQ
  • What should I look for in products to avoid clogged pores?

    According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should look for at least one of the following terms on everything you apply to your face: "non-comedogenic," "oil free," and (obviously) "won’t clog pores."

  • How often should I wash my face to avoid clogged pores?

    Cleansing twice daily can help prevent clogged pores, unclog existing pores, and reduce oiliness. Always be gentle when washing your face. Avoid using hot water, which can irritate the skin and lead to pores looking larger in size.

  • After masking, what other steps can I take to avoid pores?

    On top of masking, you can take other preventative options in your skincare routine to combat large pores. The proper exfoliators, toners, cleansers, retinoids, and hydrators can all contribute to helping minimize pores.

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

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Her skin skews more toward the combination side, so she often applies a pore-purifying mask just along her oilier t-Zone. The Lancer product featured on this list is one of her current go-tos.

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. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Acne: who gets and causes.

  2. The effect of accumulated lipids on measurements of sebum secretion in human skin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 1982;79(4):226-228.

  3. Final report on the safety assessment of squalane and squalene. Journal of the American College of Toxicology. 1990;1(2):37-56.

  4. Williams LB, Haydel SE. Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents. Int Geol Rev. 2010;52(7/8):745-770.

  5. Draelos ZD. The multifunctionality of 10% sodium sulfacetamide, 5% sulfur emollient foam in the treatment of inflammatory facial dermatoses. J Drugs Dermatol. 2010;9(3):234-236.

  6. https://www.acne.org/can-topical-zinc-improve-acne.html

  7.  Bernstein EF, Brown DB, Schwartz MD, Kaidbey K, Ksenzenko SM. The polyhydroxy acid gluconolactone protects against ultraviolet radiation in an in vitro model of cutaneous photoaging. Dermatol Surg. 2004;30(2 Pt 1):189-195; discussion 196.

  8. Poljšak B, Dahmane R. Free radicals and extrinsic skin aging. Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:135206.

  9. Williams LB, Haydel SE. Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agentsInt Geol Rev. 2010;52(7/8):745-770. doi: 10.1080/00206811003679737

  10. American Academy of Dermatology Association. "What can treat large facial pores?"

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