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By Deborah Grayson

The problem with pores is that when you don't treat them right they become clogged and enlarged. Coupled with dry skin, pores can look worse than they actually are. But there are definitely ways to unclog pores and amazing makeup products to give the illusion of having almost no pores at all. Here are some of the best things to do, and use, to handle your large pore problem.

Grainy Stuff

In order to help pores do their "job" of allowing oil to flow efficiently, use a grainy exfoliant cleanser, which will polish off the dry, dead skin that's clogging them. We really like Burt's Bees Citrus Facial Scrub, because it's gentle enough to use every day and contains such nice natural ingredients as oats, orange peel, ground almonds and rose petals. Just be careful with grainy products. Use them gently and not too often. If you overdo it with washing, the body produces more oil in an attempt to replace it '- so once or twice a day is fine.


Facials are brilliant for thorough, deep-pore cleansing, not to mention how soothing they can be. The mark of a good facial is that it's personalized to meet the precise needs of your skin, so it's essential to have a consultation with a facialist in which you discuss your needs and concerns prior to service. Another great feature of a facial is that you can have nasty blackheads (pores blocked with dead cells) safely extracted. We love the peaceful environment and immaculate facials offered at Shizuka Japanese Day Spa.


Microdermabrasion significantly lessens the appearance of pores by "roughening up" skin, therefore loosening the dead skin that clogs pores. It also stimulates collagen so skin looks really smooth. You can have it done by a pro; American Laser Center has medical professionals on staff to oversee treatment. Or you might like to try a less vigorous but still highly effective at-home product. Just don't get microdermabrasion if you have spider veins. The skin treatment can make them worse.

Alpha and Beta Acids

Both alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids exfoliate skin to prevent dead skin cells from building up and clogging pores, but while alpha hydroxy acid is water soluble only, beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) is oil soluble, so it's able to really seep into the sebum-packed pore, exfoliating the dead skin cells built up inside. Look for products that contains salicylic acid. If you have combination skin, you can find products like Murad's Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel, which contains both salicylic and glycolic acid.


Ask your dermatologist if your pores call for something stronger, like tretinoin, the drug widely known as Retin-A. It helps unclog pores by loosening blackheads and speeding up cell turnover. If the gel-based Retin-A is too harsh, ask about Renova, which comes in a moisturizing base. 

Makeup Tricks

  • Skip Foundation: Avoid applying foundation to any areas where pores are enlarged. Foundation just seems to magnify their look '- even mattifying foundations seem to call more attention to pores.
  • Use Blotting Powder: Apply a neutral blotting powder directly to any areas where pores appear larger. The powder will serve to diffuse the look of the pores so all you'll see is a smooth, more matted surface. MAC Cosmetics makes a terrific one.
  • Apply a Pore-Perfecting Cream: Look for gels and tinted creams formulated to smooth the appearance of pores. Just put the product directly on areas that are bothering you. Let it set and lightly apply powder over it.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.