The 9 Best Pore Cleansers That Actually Remove Dirt, Oil, and Build-Up

From foaming washes to detoxifying masks, these deep-cleaning pore cleansers will leave you with brighter, clearer skin.

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Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash
Photo: Amazon

Pores. Everyone has them, but many still struggle with their appearance. The thing is, some wish to shrink their pores by making them smaller in size — but that's actually not even possible. Instead, the solution for invisible or "smaller" pores is keeping them clean and free of dirt, oil, and debris that builds up over time. That's where pore cleansers come into play. (Psst... check out the best blackhead remover tools here, as well.)

"A pore cleanser is a product that helps remove excess oil, dirt, and dead cells from the pores to keep them clear and help minimize their appearance," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. These products typically use exfoliating ingredients that slough away dead skin and dirt, to help reduce the appearance of pores. While most of these treatments are actually facial cleansers, there are other deep-cleaning options, including face masks, toners, and even devices (more on that later).

When searching for the best pore cleanser, Connecticut-based dermatologist Deanne Robinson, M.D., recommends looking for products that include alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA) such as salicylic or glycolic acid, retinol, clay, and charcoal. "You want to look for chemical exfoliants like these acids, but also be sure the accompanying ingredients are non-comedogenic [won't clog pores] and overall free of oils." (

This is your guide to the best pore cleansers on the market — from foaming face washes and detoxifying masks to exfoliating devices and more — thanks to the help of derms and thousands of customer reviews. There are a variety of formulas and price points, with options for every skin type, so you're sure to find your perfect fit. Keep scrolling to shop the best pore cleansers that'll remove build-up and leave you with a brighter, clearer complexion.

Best Overall: Kate Somerville Exfolikate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash

This spa-inspired cleanser isn't exactly the same as getting a facial, but it surely is the next best thing (it has a well-deserved cult following). It's formulated with AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid that help remove buildup in your pores and on the skin's surface. And the fruit enzymes included in the game-changing formula naturally exfoliate the skin without causing irritation. It's also gentle enough for daily use, so you don't have to worry about purchasing another cleanser to use in between. (For a special treat, also try the brand's beloved deep exfoliating treatment.)

Buy It: Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash, $38,

Best Drugstore Option: Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser

Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser

This affordable pore cleanser proves you don't have to spend a lot of money to get clearer pores — it gets the job done for less than $10 a bottle. Charcoal is the powerhouse ingredient behind this popular drugstore option from Biore. Charcoal acts as a magnet to dirt and impurities, drawing them out of your pores in just minutes.

At first application, you may feel your skin tightening up, but don't fret: that tightening feeling is simply the charcoal at work. Once you rinse and moisturize, your skin will feel refreshed and clean sans dryness. Bonus: You can get a 3-pack of the detoxifying cleanser for just $17. (

Buy It: Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser, $17 for 3,

Best for Aging Skin: Skinceuticals LHA Cleansing Gel

SkinCeuticalsLHA Cleanser Gel

Dr. Robinson called this her go-to cleanser for purifying pores. Not only does it decongest pores thanks to a trio of powerful acids, but it even helps improve the skin's texture and tone, leaving you with a brighter, smoother complexion. Ideal for combination or oily skin types, this do-it-all cleanser can also prevent or treat signs of aging.

"My dermatologist recommended this cleanser for my problematic/aging skin," wrote one reviewer. "I loved it from the first time I used it. It did not irritate my skin and my skin cleared up within a week of using this cleanser. The appearance of my skin looks much, much better."

Buy It: Skinceuticals LHA Cleansing Gel, $41,

Best for Sensitive Skin: Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Exfoliating Cleanser

Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Exfoliating Cleanser

This oil-free, gel-to-foam cleanser is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin types. The exfoliators in this wash are derived from Japanese luffa fruit and work to lightly slough away dirt and grime to keep pores clear. Plus, like all Tatcha products, you can ensure that this cleanser will also nourish and soften your skin, too — no redness or inflammation here!

One reviewer raved, "This cleanser is so gentle on my skin but also leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean. It has the right amount of exfoliating power, and smells nice without being overpowering."

Buy It: Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Exfoliating Cleanser, $38,

Best Pore Cleansing Pads: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel

These celeb-loved two-step pore cleansing pads will have you hooked after the first use. Each pad is soaked in seven pore-sloughing acids, including glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids. The two-step pads are meant to be used one after the other; the first step gently exfoliates and removes dead skin cells, while the second step encourages skin cell renewal, soothing wrinkles and other signs of aging.

While definitely pricier, shoppers claim these pads are well-worth the cost because of the professional-level results. "I can honestly state that this product is the best product for my skin that I have ever used. I will not be without it. Yes, it is pricey, but worth every cent. After a few uses my skin looks younger and smoother. I get more compliments on my skin," said one Amazon reviewer. "A number of years ago I had a chemical peel on my face with beautiful results. Now I get the same results with the Alpha Beta Peel without the pain and expense. I love this product and am never without it."

Buy It: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel, $88,

Best Clean Formula: Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

Drunk Elephant's best-selling jelly cleanser is vegan, cruelty-free, and not formulated with any unnecessary harsh chemicals. Infused with gentle cleansers that create a nice lather and dissolve dirt, makeup, and oils, it also includes glycerin and cantaloupe fruit extract, which help restore moisture and soothe skin after each use. (

"It effectively removes makeup, is scent-free, and feels luxurious. My skin has never felt more hydrated after a cleanser and before moisturizer!" wrote a shopper. "I have sensitive skin, so I especially appreciate the philosophy of this brand (using only high quality, non-irritating ingredients)."

Buy It: Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, $32,

Best Pore Cleansing Device: Dermaflash Dermapore Ultrasonic Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser

Dermapore Ultrasonic Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser

If you're looking for a high-tech solution to clearing out your pores, this ultrasonic device is totally worth the try. It has two modes: the extract mode — which is like a deep cleanser for the skin, gently removing dirt, grime, and even blackheads — and the infuse mode, which allows your favorite skin-care products to penetrate deeper for more effective results.

"Use this after the shower (so your pores are open) and watch all of the residue and dirt this product extracts from your neck and face. I highly recommend this product if you have oily skin, clogged pores, congestion in your skin, etc. It is life changing," said one reviewer.

Buy It: Dermaflash Dermapore Ultrasonic Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser, $99,

Best Pore Cleansing Mask: PCA Skin Detoxifying Mask

PCA Skin Detoxifying Mask, 2.1 Ounce

If clogged pores aren't a norm for you but you want to do a deep cleanse once in a while, a mask is a great option. This one is formulated with white charcoal and kaolin clay that absorb and draw out impurities and dirt left in your pores. Since this detoxifying mask can be drying when used too often, you'll only want to reach for it once a week. Simply apply a thin layer and let it sit on your skin until it dries, then remove with warm water to reveal transformed skin. (

One user said, "I love this product. It's clearing out my pores and smoothing out my skin without over drying. Even stubborn blackheads on my nose are clearing out."

Buy It: PCA Skin Detoxifying Mask, $60,

Best Pore Cleansing Toner: CosRX Two in One Poreless Power Liquid

Cosrx Two in One Poreless Power Liquid

This deep-cleaning duo acts as a toner and a treatment in one. Ideal for all skin types, the alcohol-free formula cleans out pores in a few simple swipes. For a deeper treatment, allow the solution to sit on the skin for a few minutes before wiping away. The inclusion of willow bark water can even help treat acne, while hyaluronic acid delivers a surge of hydration. One shopper even called this the "holy grail for large pores."

Buy It: CosRX Two in One Poreless Power Liquid, $24,

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