The Best Serums For Large Pores

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Wondering if you can actually change the size of your pores? You can’t, board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Paul Nassif tells Elite Daily. Pore size is a function of genetics, so you can’t permanently make large pores shrink. However, he says, “You can change the appearance of pore size” by reducing congestion, treating and preventing blackheads, and generally evening out your skin tone and tightening your skin’s appearance. When hunting for the best serums for large pores, Dr. Nassif suggests looking for products that contain AHAs and BHAs like lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid. “These acids will help exfoliate dead skin cells, removing any excess buildup from the skin,” he explains. Retinol is another ingredient that the expert says increases skin cell turnover, something that can help lessen the appearance of enlarged pores. Finally, even if you’re prone to oily skin and blackheads, you should still look for hydrating ingredients in your serum, such as hyaluronic acid, as Dr. Nassif says that pores can appear larger if your skin isn’t getting enough hydration.

In addition to using a pore-tightening serum, you can also use a pore-filling primer to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. Ingredients that are often found in these primers, like the silicone dimethicone, “help to reflect light and blur the appearance of pores,” the doctor explains. While serums will provide long-term benefits, these primers offer more immediate results.

Keep scrolling to shop six great serums that can help make your smalls (temporarily) look smaller; then, to really keep congestion at bay, pick up one of the best pore cleansers.

1. Doctor’s Pick: Best Drugstore Serum For Large Pores

Dr. Nassif points to Neutrogena’s Stubborn Blackheads serum as a great affordable pick for enlarged pores. “This contains salicylic and glycolic acids to exfoliate and clear clogged pores,” he explains. When it comes to deep-cleaning, pore-unclogging capabilities, it’s tough to beat the tried-and-true BHA salicylic acid, which penetrates skin deeply to clear out the dead skin and oil that’s stuck in your pores and making them appear larger, which is why it’s often the first treatment for blackheads. Salicylic acid is also super effective when paired with AHAs like glycolic acid, because AHAs resurface skin (aka shed dead skin cells), so salicylic acid has an easier time doing its job.

This is an oil-free serum, which is often preferred by people prone to very oily skin. However, you don’t have to avoid oils at all costs, Dr. Nassif says. “The right oils with the right active ingredients can help improve the appearance of pores,” the expert explains.

2. Best Gentle Serum For Large Pores

Caudalie’s gentle, elegantly formulated Vinopure serum targets clogged pores and promotes a more even complexion, thanks to naturally derived salicylic acid and niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that has all sorts of skin-related benefits, including the potential to make your pores appear smaller over time. The serum also contains antioxidant-rich grape seed polyphenols, the brand’s hero ingredient, which work to keep your skin protected and nourished in the long term. Because of its antioxidant benefits, it’s a great choice for daily wear under sunscreen.

3. Best Retinol Serum For Large Pores

Retinol is helpful for so many reasons. By effectively promoting skin cell turnover and removing dead skin cells, it’s an ideal ingredient for unclogging enlarged, congested pores, which is why it's often recommended for patients who are prone to acne and blackheads. La Roche-Posay’s Pure Retinol Face Serum is a simple, straightforward, oil-free serum that balances the many benefits of retinol with more gentle, nourishing ingredients, like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and the brand’s soothing thermal spring water. Like any retinol serum, this should be applied on clean, dry skin at night.

When using any of the active ingredients on this list, including AHAs or retinol, be sure never to skip out on sunscreen, as these exfoliants can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

4. Best K-Beauty Serum For Large Pores

For a K-beauty pick, try this multifaceted serum from cult Korean brand COSRX. Their AHA/BHA Vitamin C Booster Serum is an affordable blend of vitamin C-rich fruit extracts like kiwi and dragonfruit, moisturizing glycerin, soothing niacinamide, the BHA betaine salicylate (sourced from sugar beets), and the AHA glycolic acid. Together, these ingredients work to promote a glowier, more even-looking complexion and help reduce the appearance of congested, noticeable pores.

5. Best Serum With SPF For Large Pores

If you’re dealing with congested pores and oily skin, layering on multiple products can sometimes feel too suffocating, so a moisturizing serum that also features SPF is a nice way to protect your skin and treat other concerns at once. Garnier’s SkinActive Green Labs Canna-B Pore Perfecting Serum Cream has an SPF of 30 (the minimum sunscreen protection suggested by the American Academy of Dermatology) and contains niacinamide, glycerin, and hemp seed oil to keep your skin healthy and your pores clear. It’s fragrance-free, and has a creamy, weightless texture, so it provides just the right amount of nourishment for oily skin.

6. Best 2-In-1 Serum & Toner

Soak up excess oil, clean out clogged pores, and refresh your skin with this two-in-one toner and serum from Bliss. It’s made with salicylic acid, niacinamide, and witch hazel, which cover the pore-clearing benefits, while tea tree oil helps keep breakouts at bay, and zinc PCA reduces redness, oil, and shine. It has an ultra-lightweight texture, and therefore layers really well underneath makeup and other skin care products.


Dr. Paul Nassif, Board-Certified Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon