Most Foundations Make Large Pores More Noticeable—These 14 Are the Exception


(Image credit: @tobimakeup)

I love talking about the absolutely best foundations. It doesn't matter if it's a flawless, full-coverage formula or a lightweight, natural-looking one. In fact, as a beauty editor, it's one of my favorite makeup products to discuss because it's so foundational (pun intended) to a makeup routine. The best ones blend easily, don't crease or smudge, provide long-lasting coverage, and disguise texture and pores rather than accentuate them.

Anyone who has enlarged pores knows that the last part is critical. I, for one, have visible pores in my T-zone, and I get beyond irritated when I'm testing a new foundation only to find that it sinks and settles into them, making them look worse than they were. I mean, why even wear foundation in the first place if it's just going to make my problem areas look worse?

To prevent this from happening again, I reached out to two professional makeup artists to get the lowdown on the best foundations for large pores. These formulas are guaranteed to make your pores look better, not worse. Promise. Keep scrolling to learn how to minimize enlarged pores. Then, see the 14 best makeup artist–approved foundations.


Step 1: Skin Prep
(Image credit: @joannacoops)

Both makeup artists say skin prep is essential when trying to disguise enlarged pores. Take it from celebrity makeup artist Elizabeth Seropian. "The best way to disguise enlarged pores, in my opinion, is to focus on proper skin prep by cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, using a pore-minimizing primer, and considering mattifying products," Seropian says.

Celebrity makeup artist J Guerra agrees, saying each skin-prep step you do will get you closer to a smooth, seamless base. So don't pick up your foundation until you've applied the right skincare products. "Start by thoroughly cleansing the face to remove any dirt, oil, and makeup," Guerra says. "Choose a gentle cleanser based on your skin type. Look for products that are noncomedogenic. Some are made with ingredients specifically formulated for pore refinement." From there, he recommends exfoliating since "regular exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve the overall texture of the skin."


(Image credit: @tylynnnguyen)

Finally, he says that a pore-minimizing mask can help (such as those that contain clay or charcoal), as well as toner and moisturizer. "After cleansing and exfoliating, using a toner can also refine your pores," he says. "Toners can help balance the skin's pH, remove any remaining impurities, and tighten the pores. Look for toners with ingredients like witch hazel or tea tree oil, known for their astringent properties." As for moisturizers, "opt for lightweight, noncomedogenic moisturizers that won't clog pores. Hydrated skin can appear plumper and help reduce the visibility of pores before primers."

As always, follow up with sunscreen as your last step. "Sun damage can worsen the appearance of enlarged pores, so it's crucial to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher," Guerra says. "Sunscreen helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays and prevents premature aging, which can contribute to pore enlargement."

Pro tip: Guerra says cold temperatures can help tighten the appearance of pores. You can keep your products in the fridge or pop a gel face mask in the freezer for a few minutes before applying it to the skin for pore-minimizing benefits.


Step 2: Primer
(Image credit: @piashah_)

Another way to minimize the appearance of pores is to use a primer, but not just any primer. "For clients with large pores, scars, or other indented skin textures, I use primers that create a smoothing effect," Guerra says. "Since primers are designed to create a smooth and even surface for makeup application, they can help fill in fine lines and pores—giving the skin a more refined texture. A pore-minimizing primer can help blur the appearance of pores and create a smoother makeup application. Primers can also create a barrier between the skin and makeup products. They can prevent excess oil production, control shine, and help makeup stay in place longer. This is particularly beneficial for anyone with oily or combination skin types, as excessive oiliness can often magnify the visibility of enlarged pores."

So what kind of primer should you go with? Guerra says to avoid any primers that provide a sheen to the skin (and definitely avoid any that contain shimmer or sparkle), as these can actually make pores more visible. "I choose primers that contain ingredients like silica, which help mattify and blur texture on the skin," he says. "It helps to absorb excess oil, minimize shine, and create a soft-focus effect that instantly reduces the visibility of pores. It really (temporarily) creates an optical illusion of blurred, poreless skin!"

You also need to know how to apply primer. "To make pores 'disappear' on the skin, the technique is just as important as the products used," Guerra says. "Using a dense, synthetic-fiber foundation brush, apply the primer in a circular motion—gently buffing the product onto the skin and into the pores. The same motion should be used for liquid foundation and powder."


Step 3: Foundation
(Image credit: @nitsanraiter)

Speaking of foundation, a common mistake is applying too much product in the hopes of concealing pores better. Guerra says this can actually backfire, so you should use a light touch instead. "In regard to foundation, less is more when concealing large pores. Powder foundations can mix with sebum on the skin's surface and lead to oily creasing or separation, which makes the look of large pores much worse. Liquid foundations with too much coverage can also enhance the visibility of larger pores. Cream- or wax-based formulas can get greasy and separate on oily skin throughout the day, which can lead to clogged pores and make them more noticeable." In other words, instead of gooping it on, try applying foundation in thin layers and building coverage from there.

Best Overall: Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation

The Runner-Up: Gucci Éternité de Beauté 24 Hour Full Coverage Foundation

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation

Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation

Tarte Amazonian Clay 16-Hour Full Coverage Foundation

Westman Atelier Vital Skin Full Coverage Foundation and Concealer Stick

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation

Dior Dreamskin Fresh & Perfect Face Cushion SPF 50

Chanel Ultra Le Teint Ultrawear All-Day Comfort Flawless Finish Compact Foundation

Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Powder Foundation

Wander Beauty Wanderlust Powder Foundation

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

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.