Pores: can’t live without them. We all have them, as they’re part of our skin’s natural makeup. Pores tend to have a negative connotation, but there isn’t anything wrong with them. However, you have every right to want to minimize the look of enlarged or congested pores due to excess oil, dead skin cells, environmental stressors, dirt and debris buildup, and more. Clogged pores can lead to bacterial buildup and acne.1
Masking, known as one of the most praised self-care rituals, can be helpful when trying to tackle pores. It can give your pores some much-needed TLC and a good deep clean. When it comes to masks for pores, spoiler alert, they’re not all created equal. Luckily, we’re here to break down the best products to address all your pore concerns. Warning: Always spot test before trying a new mask on your face. Your skin will thank you later!
Keep scrolling for the best face masks for pores when your skin needs a re-up.
Best Overall: GLAMGLOW SUPERMUD Instant Clearing Treatment Mask
Courtesy of GlamGlow
This mud mask takes a no-holds-barred approach when clearing congested skin to make way for a brighter complexion. Equipped with six acids, this powerful blend deep cleans your pores, which helps in making them look noticeably smaller.
Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil | Active Ingredients: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), activated charcoal | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 0.5 / 1 / 1.7 / 3.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
The internet absolutely loves this best-selling clay mask, which consistently flies off the shelves. It’s an intense one, that’s for sure (speaking from experience here). But if you want your pores to feel brand-new, this is the product for you.
Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil | Active Ingredients: Calcium bentonite clay | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 1 lb. / 2 lb. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Splurge: Biologique Recherche Crème Masque Vernix
Emollients serve as softening and moisture-locking agents, like butters, oils, esters, lipids, and fatty acids.2 They can also be used to describe a category of products that contain these ingredients, such as lotions, creams, and ointments.
Highly praised by Byrdie’s associate editorial director, Hallie, who relies on this creamy mask to save her hungover skin, the brand created this to give you “baby skin” that provides a “second birth.” With emollients in the formula, your skin will feel like it’s enveloped in hydration after using this.
Benefits: Moisturizes, repairs | Active Ingredients: Amniotic fluid, hydrolyzed placental protein, ceramides | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Vegan: Volition Beauty Detoxifying Silt Gelée Mask
Courtesy of Volition
One downside to pore-fighting masks is they can feel incredibly harsh and uncomfortable on the skin. With the mission of moisturizing and purifying the skin at the same time, this gel-based mask promises to get rid of buildup while adding ample hydration thanks to its mineral-rich black silt.
Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil, hydrates | Active Ingredients: Black silt, squalane | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Clay: Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask
Courtesy of Kiehl’s
Aloe vera is a naturally derived ingredient known for its soothing and moisturizing properties. The aloe plant’s inner gel mucilage (the part that’s used in skincare products) is made up of 99.5% water.3
You can find bentonite in this whipped clay formula, which may help control shine; along with aloe vera, known to soothe skin; and Amazonian white clay, used to absorb excess oil and remove impurities, according to the brand. Afterward, your skin will feel deeply cleansed and refreshed.
Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil | Active Ingredients: White clay, aloe | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 1 / 4.2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Facial: Olga Lorencin Deep Detox Facial in a Box
The name says it all: a deeply purifying facial in a box. Keep congestion and pollution-generated clogged pores at bay with this mask of active ingredients that can help target oil imbalances while providing gentle exfoliation.
Benefits: Clears pores, reduces excess oil, helps clear acne | Active Ingredients: Salicylic, mandelic, and phytic acids | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Size: 1.7 / 2.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Wrinkles: Elemis Peptide4 Thousand Flower Face Mask
This comforting mask has a velvety texture that feels so good on your skin using a combination of peptides and Nordic Peat. The brand describes the latter as “organic matter from thousands of flowers rich in humic and fulvic acid” that is meant to break up excess oil in your pores and bring on glowing, radiant skin.
Benefits: Clears pores, balances skin | Active Ingredients: Peptides, Nordic Peat soil | Skin Type: All | Size: 2.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Removing Makeup: Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask With Rose Clay
Jojoba oil is a natural oil produced from the seed of the chinensis plant, a drought-resistant shrub native to southern Arizona, California, and Mexico. Jojoba oil mimics natural sebum and conditions, and it also also seals moisture in the skin without clogging pores or exacerbating acne.4
This rose clay mask stays front and center in my routine after nights when I’ve had way too much fun and forget to take my makeup off (not proud of this, but it’s the truth). It’s a restorative mask that features Mediterranean rose clay, Canadian willow herb, and exfoliating jojoba beads.
Benefits: Exfoliates, reduces excess oil | Active Ingredients: Rose clay, willow herb, jojoba beads | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 1 / 2.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
What to Look for in Pore-Cleansing Face Masks
Typically, clay-based masks made with acids are recommended to take on your clogged or enlarged pores. Clay helps draw out impurities from the skin, aiming to leave it fresh, smooth, and clean.5 Note that when working with a clay mask such as Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay, do not leave on the skin for more than five to 10 minutes depending on your skin’s sensitivity level.
Acids help unclog and minimize the look of your pores. Look for commonly used acids, such as lactic and salicylic acids, when scanning the ingredient lists before your purchase.
Pore-cleansing products and masks can often be rough on the skin while going to work. Seeking masks with skin-soothing formulas to offset any wear and tear and help nourish the skin after your pores have been cleaned.
What should I look for in products to avoid clogged pores?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should look for at least one of the following terms on everything you apply to your face: “non-comedogenic,” “oil free,” and (obviously) “won’t clog pores.”6
How often should I wash my face to avoid clogged pores?
Cleansing twice daily can help prevent clogged pores, unclog existing pores, and reduce oiliness.6 Always be gentle when washing your face. Avoid using hot water, which can irritate the skin and lead to pores looking larger in size.
After masking, what other steps can I take to avoid pores?
On top of masking, you can take other preventative options in your skincare routine to combat large pores. The proper exfoliators, toners, cleansers, retinoids, and hydrators can all contribute to helping minimize pores.