June 28, 2013
This is not a pastime that I would recommend.
For weeks now, I've been peering into a 10X magnifying mirror, morning and night, examining — eek — the pores on my nose and cheeks, chin and forehead.
The reason for this unwelcome, hypervigilance is that I've been testing a type of product that I didn't even know existed to solve a problem I didn't know I had: enlarged pores.
I only found out about the proliferation of pore products when my friend and colleague Brenda Richardson told me about them. She wondered if they actually do shrink pores and make your skin look smoother.
After some research, I found that there's this huge world of pore "refining" and "minimizing" treatments out there. So, I enlisted Brenda to help me try out a variety of them at prices ranging from $8.99 to $55. She even came up with a name for our project: "Desperately seeking porefection."
Here's our take:
THE BOTTOM LINE: No porefection here.
Brenda says: I don't think they live up to their hype at all. I'm not sold. I don't think any of them are worth running out and buying.
Ellen says: My pores are unchanged. I think the whole idea is dumb. I'd rather use the money to buy a new lipstick.
See the photos above; click on "caption" or read below for more information.
Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals Intensive Pore Minimizer
The promise: "Designed to effectively reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. ... The result is skin that appears firmer, less oily, less shiny and remains fresh and smooth throughout the day."
The basics: A lightly scented liquid that smooths nicely over the face.
Brenda says: After a few days, pores appeared a bit smaller, skin was smooth. Weird fragrance smelled like a combination of antiseptic and perfume.
Ellen says: Felt good going on, but I saw no change in my skin whatsoever. The smell didn't bother me.
Our advice: Skip it. Not worth the steep price.
Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector
The promise: "Look smooth and virtually flawless with pores that appear more than 50 percent smaller — instantly."
The basics: A pinkish cream — with a nice silky-powdery feel with a matte finish — comes in three shades. Despite the "invisible" claim, it has a whitish cast that doesn't work for darker complexions. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute tested five pore products and declared this the winner.
Details: $20, 0.5 ounces, department stores; clinique.com
Brenda says: Used alone, it didn't blend in well, but applied lightly under makeup, it made my skin look flawless. (Ellen butts in: Brenda has beautiful skin to start with.)
Ellen says: The "invisible bright" shade didn't blend in with my skin tone. Didn't do a thing for my pores. Good initial shine control didn't last long. While using this, I got several pimples for the first time in decades — not the effect I was going for.
Our advice: Don't bother.
Murad T-Zone Pore Refining Serum
The promise: "Gently exfoliating ingredients to control and minimize oil, shine, pore size and skin clarity."
The basics: A highly scented liquid that feels great going on. Refrigerate it for hot-weather application. So cooling. They recently changed the name from "gel" to "serum" but it's the same product.
Brenda says: Didn't control shine; had to use blotting sheets throughout the day on my nose.
Ellen says: Felt nice going on but did zilch for my pores.
Our advice: We wouldn't buy it, especially at $20 per ounce.
GoodSkin Z-Pore Instant Pore Refiner
The promise: "Instantly refines the look of pores, controls oil and reduces shine."
The basics: A light-colored fragrance-free cream goes on with ease. Good Housekeeping rated it runner-up in its lab tests.
Details: $26.50, 0.68 ounces, Kohl's, kohls.com
Brenda says: Has a filling effect on pores; made enlarged pores appear more pronounced.
Ellen says: Spackle! It actually emphasized every pore. Total reverse of what it is supposed to do.
Our advice: You have got to be kidding. Run away from this stuff.
Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner
The promise: "Visibly reduces the appearance of pores and refines skin to be clear, smooth and more even toned."
The basics: Pleasant smelling and the lightest of the products tested — more like a cleansing astringent. Cosmeticscop.com expert Paula Begoun says the alcohol content "will stimulate oil production at the base of your pores, which isn't the least bit refining."
Details: $8.99, 8.5 ounces, drugstores; neutrogena.com
Brenda says: Gentle toner leaves skin feeling fresh and clean. Not drying. If I were buying any of these, this is the one I'd choose.
Ellen says: I'm with Brenda. If you want to try a pore product, I'd choose this.
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