4 Essential Tips for Clearer Skin + Smaller Pores by Summer


In This Article:

As we say goodbye to the colder weather and rainy skies, it’s time to take stock of your current skin-care routine.  If you’re still dealing with occasional acne breakouts or hiding the red marks from zits past, following these tips will lead to dramatically clearer skin—all before slip on those sandals and plan that summer vacation!

Tip 1: Screen your skin-care routine for irritants.

Your skin-care routine is only as effective as its weakest product, so know if what you’re using is good or not. Products that contain irritants (like essential oils, citrus extracts, menthol and denatured alcohol) can cause daily irritation that can extend the time it takes for skin to heal from past breakouts and make oily skin worse.  Acne is an inflammatory condition—so anything you do to worsen the inflammation will only make your breakouts harder to treat.

Tip 2: Be sure your skin care & makeup products are right for your skin type.

If you have combination to oily skin, but are relying on rich creams, it’s time to ditch them in favor of lighter formulas.  The emollients used to create texture in thick moisturizers often spell trouble for your skin type, exacerbating blemish-prone areas and clogging pores.

It’s not just skin-care you’ve got to watch out for—solid makeup products, like stick foundations, concealers and creamy blush, should be avoided. These usually rely on wax or wax-like ingredients to keep their shape and texture, which can do a number on clog-prone pores.   

As much as possible, use only gel, light fluid lotion, or liquid skin care and makeup products.  Be sure to check potential additions to your routine against our reviews on our sister site,, to ensure that your routine is right for your skin type. 

Dealing with super-dry spots + oily areas? That’s a little trickier, and you should check out our article Extreme Combination Skin, for more advice.

Tip 3: Use a well-formulated, leave-on BHA exfoliant.

The BHA ingredient to know is salicylic acid. Keeping a BHA exfoliant in your daily routine not only exfoliates the surface of the skin (to fade discolorations) but also penetrates oil to reach inside the pore, dissolving the clogs that lead to blackheads, white bumps, and breakouts. Once you get rid of the substances that are keeping your pores clogged and enlarged, you’ll see them return to their original appearance!

BHA is also a potent anti-inflammatory that reduces redness. Thus, in a single product, you reduce the likelihood of developing a breakout and you speed the fading of the post-acne marks you have now. Check out our list of Best BHA Exfoliants for top picks.

Tip 4: Boost Your Pore-Clearing Treatment Routine

Perhaps you’ve got your daily routine down, but results aren’t quite as impressive as you’d like them to be—those extra-stubborn discolorations, blackheads or breakouts may need a stronger approach. 

Don’t get mad, get even (skin, that is) by incorporating one or two stronger targeted treatments that will supercharge to bring speedy results.  Our top recommendations:

  • Amp up the BHA. Our Resist Weekly Foaming Treatment 4% BHA ($35) is a super-charged (and speedy) solution to fade stubborn red marks, shrink enlarged pores, and eliminate madding breakouts.  Used once or twice weekly (at night), this time-released treatment foam brings powerful results in less time—without irritation. 

  • Look to the “big guns” of antioxidant & cell-communicating treatments.  While we always say you should look for products with a “cocktail” of proven beneficial ingredients, there is something to be said for one of those cocktails being an anti-aging shot.  Boosting your skin-care routine with a potent serum or targeted treatment can help your skin repair faster.  Consider our Resist C15 Super-Booster ($48)—a 15% vitamin C + Ferulic acid + vitamin E treatment—or the powerhouse Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum ($40).  Bonus: You can use both for even more impressive results, or combine C15 with one of the other retinol products we recommend.

Bottom Line

The critical factor for attaining smaller pores and seeing fewer breakouts is consistency and patience—following the research-based tips above will dramatically decrease the time it takes to have the skin you want (and the pores you don’t want to see). Start now and you’ll have clearer skin and smaller pores by summer!

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! Learn more at Shop Paula's Choice.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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