Desperately seeking porefection

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Details: $20, 0.5 ounces, department stores;

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.

Details: $40, 2 ounces, Sephora,;

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,

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. 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;

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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