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Minimize the look of pores

We all want that airbrushed, poreless look we see in magazines and in the movies, but this is the real world — and in the real world, we have visible pores. Unfortunately, shrinking large pores permanently is impossible, but you can minimize them with these simple tricks.

Woman looking at healthy skin

Pores 101

Pores are the tiny dots you see on the surface of your skin when you look closely at your face in the mirror. They’re not there just to annoy you; they do serve a purpose. They contain sebaceous glands, which produce your skin’s oils; each pore is also the opening of a hair follicle. We all have pores, but some — for example, those on your forehead and nose — tend to be larger.

Factors affecting pore size

The size of your pores depends mostly on your genes. If your mother and grandmother were blessed with tiny, almost-invisible pores, you probably also lucked out. Typically, fair-skinned people have pores on the smaller side, while those with olive or darker skin have larger pores. Your skin type also plays a role in pore size. Dry skin often appears poreless, while oily skin has more visible pores.

Other factors that can affect pore size include aging and blemishes. Also, squeezing pimples can cause trauma to the skin, possibly widening pores permanently.

Easy pore-minimizing strategies

The best way to make pores look smaller is to keep them clear — clogged pores can appear bigger (and cause blemishes). Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Smashbox Photo Finish Targeted Pore and Line PrimerStick with products labeled “non-comedogenic,” which won’t block pores.
  • Avoid products that contain heavy ingredients, like petrolatum and mineral oil. These can irritate your pores and make them look bigger.
  • Always wash your face before going to bed to prevent dirt and makeup from clogging pores.
  • Cleanse your face before working out so makeup isn’t carried into pore openings as you sweat; it can settle in and stretch the skin.
  • Exfoliate skin regularly to remove dead cells, which can enlarge pores.
  • Talk to your dermatologist about chemical peels or more powerful exfoliants if none of these strategies help your pores look smaller.


From primers to foundation, many products can help create a smooth, poreless-looking surface — temporarily. Try a primer formulated specifically to reduce the appearance of large pores, such as Smashbox Photo Finish Targeted Pore and Line Primer ($32), which creates a smooth, pore-free canvas for foundation.

More skin tips

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3 Things hindering your glow
Best products for getting rid of blackheads

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