Want smaller pores? Join the club.

A quick search on the Interwebs will find you with millions of secrets and tricks on how to minimize your pores. Most of them don’t work. 

Why are our pores such a problem? It starts with their very existence. Pores are home to your sebaceous gland, the source of all that oil responsible for keeping your skin hydrated. On the flip side, this also means that there tends to be a buildup of sebum within said pores. Combine sebum build up with dirt and dead skin cells and egads! you have an enlarged pore. Multiply that by one hundred (or thousand) and you have an entire face full of holes. So what’s a man to do when his face is like a bunch of divots on a soft, rain-kissed golf course? Keep them clean.

(Photo by Eugene Salas/Very Good Light)

The most popular method of keeping pores in check is through clay masks and acids. We tried both in our review. Our friends at Sokoglam suggested Goodal’s Deep Clean Glacial Pore mask as well as CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, specifically for those pesky blackheads. Did they work? Read on!

Clay away, clay away, clay away

(Photo by Eugene Salas/Very Good Light)

Clay masks are great at absorbing oil and there’s a huge variety on the market to pick from. The great thing about clay masks are that you get a lot of mileage out of one container if you use them once a week. If you use them every other day, you’ll still maximize your tub.

One product we thought of using was a suggestion by our friends at Sokoglam. They gave us Goodal’s Deep Clean Glacial Pore mask$25, a product that comes in a super convenient tub that includes spatula and spatula holder (how useful!), allowing for clean application and storage. That means that gross bacteria and dirt doesn’t get contaminated into your mud. So use. that. spatula!

The review

The clay is very dense but still soft and spreads easily. It doesn’t have a scent, which is great for people with sensitive skin. As you spread it across your face, you’ll notice that is has a little bit of grit – which aids to refine the skin’s texture through exfoliation. Once applied to the face, allow around 10 minutes for the mask to dry down before rinsing it completely off.

For my face personally, my T-zone gets hella wrecked by my own oils, while the rest of my skin is pretty dry. So I’ll choose to paint my forehead, nose, and cheeks with my clay mask to keep from over drying the rest of my face. Paint by the numbers and target your problem areas with the clay to get maximum results. 

I’ve tried a lot of clay mask in my time and I have to say this has been my favorite so far. The clay is infused with argan oil, which keeps the clay from being overly drying while also giving the skin a nice, supple glow. My skin felt incredibly soft and looked smoother after this mask. It was a great “reset” button after a long week, for sure!

Clay mask tips!

  • Don’t let a clay mask get too dry. If it gets dry to the point of cracking, it’s causing irritation on your skin. Wash your mask off before it gets to that point.
  • Ideally, you’ll want to keep your clay mask usage to about once a week to prevent over-drying your skin

A kick in the acid

(Photo by Eugene Salas/Very Good Light)

Your second friend in the fight to tame your pores are acids, specifically BHA (beta hydroxy acids). Acid may sound harsh, but your skin is naturally slightly acidic, to begin with. Beta Hydroxy Acids are used as an exfoliant because of their ability to clean pores from the inside out. Not only does this help to break down blackheads and keep them at bay, but they also help to prevent breakouts

SokoGlam gave us the CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid ($21) to help tame our pores. This serum should be used after you cleanse and tone, and before you additional serums or creams.

Because acid exfoliants are pH dependent and can be neutralized, I like to leave mine on for around 10 minutes before I move on to my next step in my routine to ensure it’s had time to do it’s job.

(Photo by Eugene Salas/Very Good Light)

CosRX’s BHA Power Liquid has a few things going for it that make it great for beginners. For one, it uses a more gentle form of BHA, betaine salicylate, rather the more commonly used salicylic acid. It’s also made with willow bark water, which is an anti-inflammatory ingredient. This combination makes this serum more gentle and less drying than some other acid exfoliants on the market.

After using this serum for a few weeks, it did a great job at keeping my breakouts under control while also clearing out my stubborn nose pores. Clean pores mean smaller pores, and smaller pores mean a happy face. And a happy face means a … okay, you get it. But warning: this one’s gonna hurt a bit. 

Once you get into the groove of using a BHA exfoliant, keep your usage to about three times a week to avoid over exfoliating, which can cause redness, dryness, and sensitivity. Also, don’t use a BHA on the same day you shave your face. It’s a mistake we’ll never do again.

Final say

But before you go and run off to show the world your smaller pores, remember to keep your skin hydrated! Both of these tools can leave skin dry, which can make pores and wrinkles more obvious as the skin constricts. We suggest keeping a good sheet mask or moisturizer on hand while you tend to the pores. Extra hydration will make everything okay. Here’s to happy skin for the new year!

Eugene Salas is a native to the suburbs of Georgia with a penchant for writing and skincare. A Korean mother and Puerto Rican fathered offered Eugene a wide world view that drove an inquisitive mind to write about the perception of race, both externally and internally, while living in the bible belt.