Oil is what makes your pores look large. "It's complicated, but oil changes how light interacts with solid objects, making things appear bigger," says Ranella Hirsch, a board-certified dermatologist in Boston. "So the more oil your sebaceous glands are pumping out, the larger your pores will seem." It's also why pores may look their most cavernous right before you get your period -- that's when you have the highest levels of the hormone progesterone, which increases oil production.
So you'll make your pores look smaller by minimizing oil -- and these three tips do just that. (Note that they're meant for those with oily or combination skin; dry-skin types generally don't have the kind of excessive oiliness that leads to larger-looking pores.)
Step 1: Use a deep-cleaning cleanser
This will clear out oil and prevent buildup of that blackish stuff that makes pores appear more prominent. (Bacteria in your pores turns black once it comes into contact with oxygen.) You could also use a cleansing brush, which can be more effective than washing with your hands, but be gentle with it. "People tend to overdo it with those brushes, especially the spinning ones," says Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. "You don't need to press them into your skin -- they should just sit on the surface."
The dermatologists recommend: Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Cleanser, $6 Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser, $22
Step 2: Apply a mattifying primer or powder before you put on any makeup
It will soak up excess oil sitting on your skin and temporarily hide pores. And when choosing makeup, look for products labeled as noncomedogenic, which means they won't block pores and lead to even more oil production.
The dermatologists recommend: Urban Decay De-Slick Mattifying Powder, $32 Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, $36
Use a mask with charcoal or clay -- two ingredients that excel at absorbing oil.
The dermatologists recommend: Boscia Luminizing Black Mask, $34 Clinique Acne Solutions Oil-Control Cleansing Mask, $22.50
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