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.
GLAMGLOW SUPERMUD Charcoal Instant Clearing Treatment Mask
Clarifies skin without overdrying
Available in multiple sizes
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.
Price at time of publish: $25
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
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
Comes in a large tub
Contains just one ingredient
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.
Price at time of publish: $15
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
Soothing on skin
Smooths out texture
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.
Price at time of publish: $19
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
Clarifies skin without overdrying
Skin feels cleansed and hydrated
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.
Price at time of publish: $60
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
Can be used before or after breakouts
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.)
Price at time of publish: $38
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
Great for both breakouts and clogged pores
Dries quickly and easy to remove
Has a bit of an unpleasant smell
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.
Price at time of publish: $80
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
Simple Kind to Skin Pink Clay Face Mask
Absorbs oil and soothes skin
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
Works in one minute
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.
Price at time of publish: $7
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
Acne Free Kaolin Clay Detox Mask
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.)
Price at time of publish: $9
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
Rare sheet mask option
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.
Price at time of publish: $9
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
Fizzing makes a fun sensorial experience
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.
Price at time of publish: $23
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
Tata Harper Purifying Mask
Completely clean formula
Luxurious scent and feel
Great for all skin types
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.
Price at time of publish: $75
Benefits: Clears pores, combats free radicals | Active Ingredients: Kaolin clay | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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American Academy of Dermatology Association. "What can treat large facial pores?"