If you were somehow blessed with the unfortunate combination of dry skin and large pores (lucky us!), your quest for perfect skin can feel like an uphill battle—if you attack your pores head-on, you often end up flaky and red. Over-moisturize, and it’s like someone put a magnifying glass up to your face. It’s almost like you’d rather have crazy-oily skin: At least you’d know your only job was to quell your T-zone.
But keeping pores in check while when your face feels like it’s one step away from flaking off doesn’t have to be a game of skin-care math. Turns out, there are just two main ingredients you should get your hands on ASAP, according to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, Founder & Director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center. “The best pore refining ingredients include glycolic acid [for] exfoliating” she says, “and then hyaluronic acid to hydrate without greasiness.” The key, Dr. Tanzi says, is to exfoliate gently—scrubbing angrily at your face isn’t going to make it any less dry.
And Annie Chiu, a dermatologist at The Derm Institute agrees: “One of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce large pores is to use a mild cleanser twice a day and exfoliate so that your skin doesn’t become overly dry,” she says, also mentioning salicylic acid as a winner for the dry-skin-large-pore crowd. “Removing dead skin cells from the upper skin layer brightens skin and gets rid of heaped-up cells surrounding and inside the pores, giving you brighter, smoother, more radiant looking skin with a velvety soft texture.” Chiu recommends the Clarisonic Mia, which uses sonic energy to lift “oxidized pore debris”—a.k.a. blackheads—from your skin.
Once you’ve exfoliated away any dead skin and hydrated appropriately (no, pouring hyaluronic acid serum all over your head won’t make it better, either), it’s time to conceal. But real talk: Blurring out large pores isn’t exactly a beginner’s game. Makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci recommends using a lightweight, creamy foundation—creamy being key—to even everything out. “The cream foundation won’t sink in like liquid or look heavy like powder, and it’ll also make your dry skin feel hydrated,” she says. Ciucci also recommends following your cream foundation with a lightweight pressed powder, which is less likely to cake up on skin. She likes IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Anti-Aging Finishing Powder because “it has a weightless-almost-wet-feel but sets totally matte and doesn’t show up on skin.”
Click through for the best products to disguise big pores when you have dry skin.