Ugh, I have had a lifelong struggle with pores. They get clogged, cause white- and blackheads, and generally just make skin look rough and textured. With an average of 20,000 pores on our face, what’s a girl to do? I have tried it all—the craziest products out there, natural remedies, high-tech tools, you name it. If a product or treatment mentions pore reduction, I am quick to volunteer my skin as tribute.
And while there are a lot of things that promise major improvements, to be honest, not many deliver. The good news, though: On my trips across the ocean, I have found some really good products that reduce the appearance of pores and prevent them from becoming clogged. Of course, as the Beauty Spy, I can’t keep them to myself—it’s my job to share my findings with the world. So, here are the best products I’ve found to minimize the appearance of pores and help you get that coveted glass-like skin.
First, let’s do a quick class on pores
Home to our hair follicles and sebaceous glands, pores release our natural oils, helping skin stay healthy and supple. However, when the production of oil goes into overdrive, dirt, dead skin, and oil can become trapped in pores, causing them to appear more pronounced. Oily skin types know this all too well, but this can also happen as a result of factors we have some control over, such as stress, lifestyle, and diet, and other factors we can’t avoid, like seasonal shifts (thank you, humidity) and aging. As we age, our bodies lose collagen, a protein that supports the structure of skin, and pores can start to look stretched out. So how do we remedy the issue? My experience has come down to four steps: cleansing, exfoliating, extracting, and priming. They all play a pivotal role in the reduction of pores.
Step 1: Cleanse
Keeping your skin clean is your first defense against clogged pores. Think about it—pores get clogged up with makeup, dirt, and debris, so it only makes sense to use a deep cleanser to rid them of all that gunk. I discovered fan favorite Neogen Pore Mousse ($28) with my Beauty Spy co-founder, Ryan Sullivan, on a trip to South Korea, where we were seeking out the latest in skincare technology. South Korean women (and men, too, for that matter) seem to have the smoothest, most glass-like skin, so we knew this was going to be a good place to uncover skincare products for pores.
As we watched the Neogen team pump out this frothy white foam, we actually thought it looked like a hairstyling product. But they then massaged it onto their skin, and we could literally see the black dirt and debris start to surface. It was the grossest yet most satisfying experience. The team informed us that this botanically-based product is powered by marine algae, an incredibly powerful natural ingredient from the depths of the ocean that acts like a vacuum and sucks the makeup, dirt, and debris out of the skin with no irritation. The dark stuff you see on your face when you use it is a mix of the gunk from your skin and the ingredients.
We’ve been slowly sharing news about this product with our followers, but after Ryan posted a TikTok video using the mousse, which now has over 3 million views, it immediately took the country by storm. (Check out the video above—trust me, it’s impossible to look away!) The post piqued everyone’s interest, not just beauty lovers, and the product sold out within hours. Don’t worry, though, it’s back in stock! Neogen Pore Mousse is safe enough to use daily, however, two times a week does the trick to keep pores cleaned out and smooth.
Etude House Baking Powder Pore Cleansing Foam ($12) is another super-effective, deep cleansing foam that helps remove impurities from pores with fine baking powder. I love it because it bubbles up and you can feel it working. Now, I’m careful to not use this too often—just when I feel my skin needs a good cleaning—because baking powder affects the skin’s pH level and can dry it out if you used too much. I like to alternate between this and the Neogen Pore Mousse.
Step 2: Exfoliate
Exfoliation is another key step in keeping pores looking tight and skin smooth, but it’s a process that can potentially harm the skin if not done properly. It’s crucial to remove the top layer of dead skin cells, however, products with jagged grains can cause micro tears in the skin and leave marks. So I was excited when I heard about a product from Japan called TOYO Cure Aqua Gel Exfoliator ($38), which exfoliates without abrasive particles or harsh acids. Apparently, one bottle sells every 7.1 seconds.
The unique gel contains over 90 percent activated hydrogen water, an ingredient that rapidly penetrates skin and triggers turnover, along with soothing and moisturizing botanicals. It starts off as a clear gel that feels cooling on contact, and as you massage it in, you notice tiny balls of dead skin cells start to roll off the skin. It leaves your face fresh, soft, and dewy, also allowing all your other products to work better because they can more easily penetrate the skin. It’s a personal favorite, and I use it daily since it’s so gentle.
Step 3: Extract
Extracting treatments are for those moments when pores become clogged and dreaded blackheads appear, typically around the nose area. This calls for a rescue op, but avoid the temptation to aggressively pick at your pores. Instead, opt for products that gently pull out dirt and debris for you. I like the Holika Holika Pig-Nose Clear Blackhead Peeling Massage Gel ($9), a mask that is infused with olive oil to loosen trapped impurities so they can be easily extracted without tugging at or damaging skin. Tony Moly Tako Pore Blackhead Scrub Stick ($13) is another great option. After cleansing and while skin is still wet, gently roll it over problem areas, massage, and rinse. Natural ingredients like black peat water, charcoal, and mud gently extract the blackheads.
Step 4: Prime
So your pores are squeaky clean and skin looks tight? Now, you are ready to apply your foundation. But wait! To minimize makeup from yet again sinking and settling into pores, be sure to use a primer first. Touch in Sol No Poreblem Primer ($26) conceals and blurs the appearance of pores, helps to even out skin tone, and creates an invisible layer that acts as a barrier to outside elements like foundation.
And there you have it. Pores? What pores!
About Chelsea Scott: Founder of The Beauty Spy, specializing in Asian beauty products and seen on HSN monthly, is an acclaimed beauty professional with more than 20 years of experience in product development and marketing. She has successfully represented beauty products in various countries for more than a decade, including HSN & TSC Canada. For more, follow her on Instagram, @chelseabeautyspy.