Are Pore Refiners Totally Brilliant Or Complete B.S.? Tynan Investigates

Were pores always this much of an issue and I just never realized it?
Publish date:
March 11, 2014
skin care, smooth skin, maybelline, Garnier, pores, primers, new products

Lately I’ve been seeing all of these new products that promise to make your pores look like they've disappeared. Pore refiners, pore erasers, pore minimizers -- things of that nature. I am now way more insecure about my pores: Do I have bad pores? Should I be hiding my pores? Were pores always this much of an issue and I just never realized it? Have we all been pore-conscious this whole time and I completely missed the memo? It could just be that this is the latest "trend" concocted by the beauty industry to make us fork over our hard earned money to fix flaws we didn't even know we had (like The Great BB Cream Craze of 2012).

To see if there's anything to this pore refining phenomenon, I tried out three different products.

1. Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser, $6.99.

The first time I spotted this in the drugstore, I audibly gasped. Maybelline Baby Lips lip balm is one of those beauty products that I am never ever without. (Except right now apparently. I just realized that there isn’t a tube in my pocket and I’m having a panic attack.) I currently own approximately nine tubes and have used just as many down to the very end. Make sure to catch my episode of "Hoarders: Lip Balm," airing soon.

So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that Maybelline was expanding on the Baby Lips brand.

Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser is a lightweight, clear gel that is supposed to smooth pores away. It should be worn over moisturizer, under foundation and it can double as a primer.

I wasn’t crazy about the idea of putting another product on my face in the morning. It just seems like stacking moisturizer, pore refiner, foundation and whatever else on top of each other, all in one go, would decrease the longevity of your makeup and maybe clog your pores (which is counterproductive). But I did it anyway, in the name of research.

After my moisturizer dried down, I applied Baby Skin to my forehead, nose, cheeks -- basically anywhere that there wasn’t stubble. Does the product immediately erase every single pore on your face? No, only Photoshop can do that. But it does go on silky smooth, to the point that it feels like it’s melting down and becoming part of your face. Plus it helps to blur pores, fine lines and imperfections. Blur is the operative word here. When you’re obsessively inspecting your reflection in the mirror, you’re not going to see much of a difference. But when you take a step back (especially after you’ve applied makeup) your face will look smoother and more flawless.

A word of caution: Baby Skin may not play nice with all other products. I tried to put a gel-based foundation on top of it and the Baby Skin prevented the foundation from adhering to my face while the foundation peeled the Baby Skin off as I applied it. I didn’t run into this problem with liquid or powder foundations, but it’s something to keep in mind. I’m still happy with it, though. It’s cheap! Play around with it; let me know.

2. Garnier Skin Renew 5 Second Blur Instant Smoother, $16.99.

This one I love. The main difference is that while Baby Skin is a gel, Garnier’s Skin renew is somewhere between a gel and a cream, which gave me better coverage. When I put it on and stepped back, my skin really did look smoother and almost weirdly like porcelain.

“Light-Reflecting Technology” is a term that I am usually pretty skeptical of because beauty companies can never really explain what it is. I’ve actually told product reps “TELL ME WHAT THIS ACTUALLY MEANS” and made them go back to the scientists that, like, developed the products, in order to really spell it out for me. It didn't help. Not only that, it’s hard to find a product where the so-called light reflecting technology actually works. It's either not doing a thing, or it's making you look shiny.

But the light-reflecting elements in Garnier 5 Second Blur really do work. The skin-smoother works the same way that foundations that promise to match your exact skin tone do: It bounces light around your face, which lessens the appearance of imperfections and hides your pores.

And, 5 Second Blur worked well with other beauty products, even the gel product that didn’t work with Baby Skin. If you’re keeping track, it’s ten bucks more, but it’s also more versatile.

3. Perfekt Skin Perfection Gel, $48.

Perfekt Skin Perfecting Gel has all the best parts of a pore refiner with the added bonus of sheer, buildable color that helps even out skin tone while masking fine lines and pores. Perfekt describes the product as a "gel-mousse," which is how I will now describe it because I feel like we’re not using the word “mousse” enough. It’s pretty fool-proof -- just pat a pearl-size drop around your face (the directions explicitly say DO NOT RUB, caps lock and all) and you’re good to go.

Personally, this is my favorite of the three, but that’s probably because the little bit of color makes me feel like it’s working more. The color is sheer, but it does make your skin look more even and vibrant. It helps to even out the blue tones in my skin when I’ve had no sleep (which is always) and it makes me look more awake.

I initially thought that the pore refiners were all hype, but after test driving these three, I think they really can be a great addition to your makeup bag. Whether you're looking to dull pores and fine lines, even skin tone, or boost color, it would be worth your time to give one of these a try. If you hate it, blame me, but when was the last time I steered you wrong? (I'm mentally preparing for your honest answers in the comment section and the subsequent emotional breakdown it will cause.)

So are you using pore refiners? If so, which ones? What beauty products are you trying out this spring? Tell me in the comments!

Tynan's pores are invisible on Twitter: @TynanBuck.