(Last Updated On: February 27, 2018)

If you’ve spent countless hours gazing at your reflection in mirrors, wishing you didn’t have such large pores, you’re not alone.

There are many women, a majority of women perhaps, who think pores affect their looks.

But since you’ve chosen to come to Unsullyd, you will be leaving that group very soon. A good pore cleanser can minimize the problems pores create .

And we’ve reviewed over a dozen cleansers to choose the top 5 pore cleansers so you can easily choose one for yourself.

At A Glance: The Best Pore Cleansers

Neutrogena Clear Pore Facial Cleanser/Mask is a mild cleanser with a good cooling effect that should offer relief from inflammation-related discomfort.

Beauty By Earth Facial Cleanser – Organic and Natural Gel Daily Face Wash includes an astringent, antioxidants and conditioners to give you the full cleansing experience.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Daily Cleanser has a mild foam and may offer relief from inflammation-related discomfort besides deep-cleansing your face and pores.

Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser is a good cleansing gel with an enjoyable mild scent.

Garnier SkinActive Clean+ Pore Purifying 2-in-1 Clay Cleanser/Mask is a good abrasive option for those who want dirt, excess oils and dead skin cells aggressively cleaned off.

The Best Pore Cleanser

01. Neutrogena Clear Pore Facial Cleanser/Mask Review

This cleanser includes menthol.

Menthol has a cooling effect on your skin which is good for dealing with the discomfort caused by inflammation if your enlarged pores have developed blackheads, acne etc.

However some users find the cooling effect to be sensitizing to their skin. This cleanser also has added fragrance.

So if you have acne or anything triggering inflammation which would cause discomfort, use this, but watch out for the possible sensitizing effect.

Overall I’d say this does a good job clearing off oil and gunk from your skin but it may prove a little bit drying. So you should be careful if you have combination or drier skin.

Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate is a mild cleanser and should not cause irritation.

One thing: this can bleach clothes so use a white cloth or something you don’t care for while using this. If you use it wearing your usual clothes, they may get bleached.

The key ingredients are listed below.

SolventWater, Benzyl Alcohol
AbsorbentKaolin, Bentonite
OpacifyingBentonite, Titanium Dioxide
EmulsifierBentonite, Xanthan Gum
CleanserSodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
FoamingSodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
SunscreenTitanium Dioxide
BufferCitric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide
Skin ConditioningXanthan Gum
PreservativeBenzyl Alcohol
AntioxidantSodium Citrate
Chelating AgentDisodium EDTA


  • For cleansing
    • Wet your face
    • Take some cleanser and water in your hands and work into a lathe
    • Apply all over your face
    • Wash off.
  • For a mask
    • Apply a thin layer over affected areas
    • Let it dry for 5 minutes.
    • Wash it off with warm water.
  • Avoid contact with dyed fabric because they may get bleached.

What I Liked

Includes menthol whose cooling effect offers relief from discomfort caused by acne, blackheads etc.

Other than fragrance a mild cleanser.

Non-irritating foam which is refreshing on the skin.

Includes an opacifier which can make pores conspicuous.

What I Didn’t Like

Includes menthol and added fragrance which some users may find too sensitizing.

It can be a bit drying on the skin.

The Best Deep Pore Cleanser

02. Beauty By Earth Facial Cleanser Review

I really appreciate the cleanser for including Japanese Green Tea Leaf Extract which is a good astringent. An astringent soaks up grime, tightens skin and minimizes pores.

In addition to that, Japanese Green Tea is an excellent antioxidant. Along with Aloe Vera and Cranberry extracts, it can reduce environmental stress and keep your skin tight which keeps pores within control.

There is a mild citrus fragrance in it. Regardless I don’t think it should be much of a problem even if you have sensitive skin.

However, if you have sensitive or combination skin this cleanser may be a little drying. Remember to moisturize immediately after cleansing.

Normally however you should have clear and soft skin after cleansing.

If you have oily skin you should also enjoy the texture as the gel will feel very light on your skin.

The following chart lists the key ingredients.

Skin ConditioningAloe Vera Leaf Juice, Chamomile (Matricaria) Extract, Calendula Flower Extract, Pomegranate Fruit Extract, Olive Leaf Extract, Lemongrass Oil
AntioxidantAloe Vera Leaf Juice, Cranberry Fruit Extract, Japanese Green Tea Leaf Extract
CleansingDecyl Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside
EmulsifyingDecyl Glucoside
HumectantGlycerin, Japanese Green Tea Leaf Extract
EmollientCranberry Fruit Extract
Anti-inflammatoryCranberry Fruit Extract
AstringentJapanese Green Tea Leaf Extract
FragranceCalendula Flower Extract
BufferSodium Chloride, Citric Acid
EmollientRosehip Seed Extract, Sea Buckthorn Kernel Extract, Argan Oil
Skin ProtectingLaminaria digitata (Horsetail Kelp) Extract
PreservativeRadish Root Ferment Filtrate, Potassium Sorbate
CoolingPeppermint Essential Oil

  • Wet your hands and face.
  • Take a pea-sized amount of the cleanser in your hand or a sponge.
  • Massage all over your face.
  • Rinse off with warm water.

What I Liked

 It should guard against environmental stress.

 You should get a thorough cleanse of dirt and excess oils.

 Peppermint Essential Oil should counter any discomfort you may get from inflammation in clogged pores.

 Mild citrus fragrance.

What I Didn’t Like

You may need to exfoliate separately.

You should consider moisturizing after cleansing.

The Best Pore Refining Cleanser

03. Neutrogena Pore Refining Daily Cleanser Review

Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid are excellent exfoliants which means they’re good at sloughing off dead skin cells off of your face.

Being an aspirin derivative, Salicylic Acid is also soothing to the skin which is important in dealing with the discomfort of inflammation that may happen if your pores get clogged.

Glycolic Acid can improve skin texture and reduce lines in addition to exfoliation.

The cleanser will also help preserve moisture and required oils while cleansing your skin. Thus it leaves your skin clean, soft and supple.

This cleanser is good at cleaning off the gunk that accumulates in pores to widen them.

It may also be able to stimulate collagen production that makes skin firmer. Firmer skin stops pores from widening out too much.

As far as pores are concerned, you should start seeing results real quick.

It has a mild foam which is refreshing on the skin but not irritating.

Listed below are the key ingredients.

SolventWater, Benzyl Alcohol
CleanserSodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate
EmulsifierSodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate
HumectantGlycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20
Skin ConditioningCocamidopropyl Betaine
FoamingCocamidopropyl Betaine
ExfoliantSalicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid
BufferSodium Chloride, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide
Film FormingPolyquaternium-10, Polyquaternium-7
PreservativeBHT, Benzophenone-4

  • Wet your face and hands.
  • Pump some cleanser into your hands and massage onto your face.
  • Rinse off with lukewarm water.

What I Liked

 Mild foam is refreshing on the skin.

 Gently cleanses excess oils, dirt and dead skin cells off of your face.

 May stimulate collagen production, leading to firmer skin.

 May soothe inflammation-related discomfort.

What I Didn’t Like

 It’s unlikely to be too drying but to be on the safe side moisturize after cleansing.

It may take a while before you start seeing results with your pores.

04. Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser Review

This cleanser has some added fragrance. Normally I would recommend caution because that may make it too sensitizing for many users.

However I think this one is quite mild and you can use it even if you have sensitive skin. By all means do a patch test to test it out yourself but I think it will pass with flying colours.

Cleanse-wise it gets the job done for sure. It performs a rigorous deep-cleanse eliminating excess oil and dirt from your face.

Existing large pores should also be less conspicuous.

If you have oily skin you may enjoy the gel texture.

It may dry your skin a little bit so remember to apply a moisturizer after using it.

I was a little disappointed though at the lack of a dedicated exfoliant to slough off dead skin cells and hair follicles, preventing them from building up and possibly widening pores.

The main ingredients feature below.

SolventWater (Aqua), PEG-120
HumectantGlycerin, PEG-120
CleanserCoco-Betaine, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Lauric Acid
Skin ConditioningSodium Cocoyl Glycinate
EmulsifierMethyl Glucose Dioleate, Lauric Acid, Triethanolamine
PreservativePhenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol
EmollientCaprylyl Glycol
FragranceLinalool, Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate
ChelatingTetrasodium EDTA
OpacifyingMagnesium Aluminum Silicate


  • Moisten your face and hands.
  • Take some gel in your hands, rub it and massage onto your face. You can use a facial cleansing brush if you want.
  • Avoid the area around the eyes.
  • Wash off with lukewarm water.

What I Liked

Cleanses dirt and excess oils off of your face.

Mild on the skin even though it contains added fragrance.

Enjoyable citrus-y fragrance.

You should enjoy the gel texture.

What I Didn’t Like

You should apply a moisturizer after cleansing.

Lacks a dedicated exfoliant.

05. Garnier SkinActive Clean+ Pore Purifying 2-in-1 Clay Cleanser/Mask Review

Menthol has a cooling effect on your skin which offers relief from the discomfort caused by inflammation that may occur from bacterial growth in clogged pores.

Apart from that it should also reduce if not prevent the growth of bacteria in the first place. Zinc salts (this one includes Zinc Gluconate) are recognized for their ability to deal with acne.

It can be used as a mask.

Accordingly it’s very fitting that it contains a number of abrasives and absorbents that are capable of the kind of aggressive cleansing that you’d expect from a mask.

On the other hand there are a number of conditioners to keep your skin soft and supple and to an extent balance the cleansing of oils.

Overall it does a good job of sucking up oil and gunk, exfoliating your skin and dealing with acne. However it may be a few days (washes) before you see visible results with your pores.

However if your skin is sensitive be careful because it may be too drying and sensitizing for you. Apart from abrasives and absorbents it also contains added fragrance.

The main ingredients feature below.

SolventWater (Aqua), Butylene Glycol
AbsorbentKaolin, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Charcoal Powder
HumectantGlycerin, Butylene Glycol, Polyglycerin-10
AbrasiveZea Mays (Corn) Starch, Charcoal Powder
CleansingDecyl Glucoside, Sodium Laureth Sulfate
EmulsifierDecyl Glucoside, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Xanthan Gum
Skin ConditioningPEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Zinc Gluconate, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate
PreservativePhenoxyethanol, Sodium Dehydroacetate
Chelating AgentTetrasodium EDTA
AntioxidantTocopherol, Ascorbyl Glucoside
ExfoliantSalicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid
BiocideZinc Gluconate
BufferCitric Acid
OpacifyingCharcoal Powder

  • To use for a cleanse
    • Wet your hands and face.
    • Take some cleanser on your hand and massage onto your face.
    • Wash off.
  • To use as a mask
    • Wet your hands and face.
    • Take some cleanser in your hands and massage onto your face.
    • Leave it on for 5 minutes.
    • Wash it off.
    • You can use it as a mask twice a week.

What I Liked

 Leaves skin soft and supple.

 Good at removing excess oil, sebum, dirt and dead skin cells.

 Relieves discomfort from inflammation at clogged pores.

 Resists bacterial growth and reduces acne.

What I Didn’t Like

 Be careful if you have sensitive skin. Do a spot test.

 It may take some time to see visible change in your pores.

What should you look for to select the best pore cleanser?

To know what to look for, you should know what you’re dealing with.

First things first, everybody starts off with a certain kind of pores. Through those pores sebum, the body’s natural lubricant, flows out onto the skin surface.

Clearly, pores perform an essential function – lubrication.

However sometimes sebum production is excessive. Added to that, sometimes hair follicles, dead skin cells and dirt build up on the skin surface and in pores.

All that combines to clog pores. If they’re more than the pore volume they can physically expand the pores. And they will cause breakouts of acne, blackheads etc.

Another factor is age. As you get older, collagen production slows down, elastin weakens, sun damage builds up and so on.

All that loosens your skin and makes the pores appear wider.

Accordingly, you understand that you need to

  • cleanse your skin well (eliminating excess oils and dirt)
  • exfoliate (clear out dead skin cells)
  • increase blood circulation (tightens skin and shrinks pores)
  • get sun protection
  • encourage collagen production
  • reduce oxidization

OK, what what properties do you want your pore cleanser to have?

Cleansers are the key cleansing ingredient(s). They can be mild or abrasive. You need to choose as per your skin type.

Antioxidants resist oxidization, reducing environmental stress, delay the onset of wrinkles. Many antioxidants encourage collagen production.

Buffers stop the product from turning too acidic or alkaline. Our skin has a pH of around 5.5. If the product pH varies too much from that it can cause discomfort.

Opacifying ingredients make large pores less conspicuous which is critical for a quick touch-up.

Some substances refuse to mix with some solvents. Then they have to be emulsified, exist as tiny droplets in the solvent. This is done by emulsifiers.

Absorbent ingredients can soak up excess oils and gunk from your skin surface and pores.

Biocides kill microorganisms which would be critical because bacteria tend to grow in clogged pores.

Right, I’ve explained what you should look for when you shop for a pore cleanser, but I can go you one further.

Let me tell you which one I think is the absolute best cleanser for dealing with pores.

Garnier SkinActive Clean+ Pore Purifying 2-in-1 Clay Cleanser/Mask

It’s got the full package.

One, if you need to deal with pores, you need all the gunk inside your pores to be sucked out. That requires both cleansing and masking.

This offers options for both cleansing and masking. And this is a serious mask, including charcoal powder.

Two, it’s got a biocide, antioxidants and exfoliants to deal with clogged pores and breakouts.

Three, it’s got a number of conditioners to keep your skin soft and supple.

Four, menthol can reduce any discomfort you may get from inflammation that’s likely if you get breakouts.

Quick Tip

Do your cleansing or masking with lukewarm water.

After you’re done, splash some cold water on your face.

It makes your skin feel tight which can reduce the mental stress you may feel if your pores are conspicuous.

It just makes you feel better. It doesn’t actually shrink your pores.


Glycolic Acid can increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. So if you use a cleanser with Glycolic Acid remember to use sunscreen regularly.

That’s it.

If you feel there’s a pore cleanser that I’ve missed, tell me in the comments. Good suggestions may get a shout-out on Twitter and/or Facebook!

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