Sorry, But I Don't Like Primer—15 Pore-Minimizing Alternatives I Use Instead


(Image credit: @annelauremais)

Like almost every other human, I have enlarged pores. It's always the ones around my nose and chin that give me the most trouble. Seeing their stretched-out appearance (complete with blackheads) drives me crazy. 

I hate to say it, but in the past, I would resort to pore strips, drying clay masks, and harsh scrubs to clear them out and minimize their appearance. While these things certainly worked, they never offered a long-term solution and ultimately did more harm than good to my sensitive skin. I also tried using pore-minimizing primers before applying makeup, but I was never impressed by the result. Sure, some offered a blurring effect, but it felt like I was putting a band-aid over the problem and not actually solving it. I wanted a long-term solution to my pore problem, and I found it in chemical exfoliants.


(Image credit: @sasha.mei)

As so many dermatologists and estheticians have taught me, the size of your pores is a predetermined thing. In other words, you can't actually shrink them, but you can minimize their appearance by keeping them clear. After all, it's pore-clogging materials like excess oil, dirt, makeup, and other debris that causes them to stretch. And when that pore-clogging material oxidizes, it becomes a blackhead. thanks. 


(Image credit: @xo.shru)

Chemical exfoliants, also known as exfoliating acids, cut through that cycle. They work by dissolving the bonds that hold pore-clogging material to the skin. Some of them, called beta-hydroxy acids or BHAs, can even penetrate the pore to clear them out and stop them from looking so perceptible. These chemical exfoliants are the long-term solution to my pore problem. When I use them about twice a week, I notice my pores look small and tight, and my blackheads disappear. Not only that, but my skin is smoother, brighter, and more even. It's like a win-win-win. Ahead, see 12 chemical exfoliants I love. 

Shop My Favorite Pore-Minimizing & Exfoliating Products

Next, Hair Serums Never Worked on My Thin Hair—Then I Tried This Growth-Boosting One

Kaitlyn McLintock
Associate Beauty Editor

Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.