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What is a Pore Mask?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 21, 2024
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A pore mask is a facial treatment designed to minimize the appearance of pores and help skin to appear softer, smoother, and more even. Pore masks are often made with clay, particularly kaolin clay and bentonite clay, which helps to tighten the skin. Though a pore mask is not designed to be used every day, many people find success with these types of masks when used once a week, or every two weeks.

The clay in a pore mask is designed to draw out impurities from the skin, which not only makes pores look smaller, but helps to prevent blemishes, heal acne breakouts, and control oil. Some pore masks will be designed to heat up when applied to the face, while others will cool down to help with painful blemishes. Each type of mask can be effective, and it is largely a matter of personal preference.

A pore mask may contain other ingredients designed to treat acne as well. These include benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Additionally, pore masks typically contain nourishing skin conditioners to help moisturize skin while it is drawing out impurities. This may include antioxidants, vitamins C and E, green tea, or calming ingredients such as feverfew to reduce redness. There are pore masks available for every preference or particular need.

To use a pore mask, begin by thoroughly cleansing and drying the face. Do not put on any makeup or moisturizing products. Most pore masks are applied to damp skin, so it is best to slightly dampen the face with lukewarm water, and then apply the mask in an even layer, avoiding the sensitive eye area. Each mask will include instructions as to the length of time it needs to be left on the face; some only require a few minutes, while others need to be left on for up to half an hour.

Follow these directions carefully. The mast will likely begin to dry out and feel tight on the skin, which generally means it is working. If it causes pain, burning, or itching, remove the mask immediately. Once the elapsed time has passed, use a warm washcloth to gently wipe the mask off the face. Do not pull or tug at the skin. Once the skin is clean, it is now possible to apply a moisturizer or sunblock if one plans to go outside. Most masks will be effective if applied every two to three days, once a week, or every two weeks depending on the skin type; too frequent application of a pore mask can cause skin to become dry.

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Discussion Comments

By fify — On May 14, 2011

I read about some great tips for using pore masks. They say that it works way better if you use it after a hot shower or apply a hot towel your face first. I guess it helps the pores open up so that the mask can clean it better.

Another tip is to use an exfoliating cleanser or a toner after the mask.

I think toner is a good idea. The hot water opens pores, the mask cleans and toner closes the pores. It's like a complete facial at home.

By candyquilt — On May 13, 2011

It took me some time to find the right brand for a pore mask. My skin is really sensitive and some masks work with a burning and tingling sensation. I'm always scared of getting red skin after masks. But the top brands I have tried all have very good ones and I have not had any sensitivity or allergies problems.

I would still recommend the natural clay masks over ones with other ingredients like salicylic acid. The natural ones are usually more gentle on the skin.

By discographer — On May 12, 2011

Using a clay pore mask is a must for me because I have oily skin. The oilier skin is, the bigger the pores get because the oil and dirt get trapped in them. I have to use a clay mask once a week to keep it under control.

My sister has dry skin though and she cannot use it so often. She uses it once every two weeks or three weeks.

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