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Mythbusters: Do Pores Open and Close?


Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been told to rinse my face with cold water because it closes the pores. After all, none of us want pores gaping open and trapping impurities from makeup and the environment!

On the reverse side, people will steam their faces to open their pores when they have a facial. Open pores supposedly allow the skin to better take in those expensive spa treatments. In theory, it kind of makes sense.

These practices have been followed by regular people and professionals for decades… but it turns out that it’s all a myth. Pores don’t open and close.

What do pores do?

If you look at your face, you can see your pores. They are exactly what they appear to be, tiny holes in your skin. They’re actually hair follicles that allow sweat and oil to come to the surface. You may think your pores are unattractive, but they serve a purpose!

Your pores in the t-zone, which is your forehead and down your nose, are generally the most visible. Pores come in all sizes and their size is generally determined by genetics. If your parents have large pores, you probably will too. Sun damage, oil production, and cleanliness all  play a role in pore size as well. 

Although pores don’t open and close, they can get stretched out, which is probably how the myth got started. If your skin is dirty or oily, particles can get stuck in your pores, stretching them so they look larger. Loss of collagen, something that happens when we get older, also loosens the skin and makes pores look bigger. Unfortunately, all of the cold water splashes in the world aren't going to make them smaller!

Are hot or cold treatments good for your pores?

Since pores don’t open and close do the hot and cold treatments that have been recommended for decades actually do anything?

The hot and cold myth probably sticks because of the way skin looks and feels after the temperature jolt. The blood vessels in your face are expanding and contracting causing your skin to do the same. Your pores aren’t opening and closing, your skin is actually swelling or tightening for a short time. It’s a trauma response to extreme temperatures.

Actually there are benefits to the temperature changes when it comes to your face. Steam and hot water loosen up sebum (oil) that sits inside your pores, allowing it to come out more easily when you cleanse your face. This can also help with clogged pores. You’ll get more benefits by using alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids. If you’re not sure which you need? Take Qyral’s skin assessment quiz and we’ll match you with the correct ingredients for your skin!

Cold temperatures will contract the skin making the pores appear smaller for a short period of time. It doesn’t do a whole lot benefit wise, but it feels refreshing! It doesn't hurt anything, so if you enjoy that cold water splash, keep doing it!

Can I change my pore size?

Your pore size depends on a handful of factors. For the most part, you’re stuck with what genetics has blessed (or cursed) you with. But, minimizing sun damage can play a big part in how large your pores appear. In other words, don’t forget the sunscreen!

As you age, your pores appear to get bigger. In fact, we did a whole article on that! In summary, as you age, collagen breaks down and you don’t produce as much. The key to keeping that collagen going is by stimulating the cellular turnover cycle, which you can do by using retinoids, particularly retinoic acid. Qyral now has prescription grade ingredients available, tailored to your precise skin type, in order to help give you exactly what you need.

The simplest and most basic way to help minimize pore size is by using good skin care products. Cleansing is a crucial part of that because it takes away the impurities on the surface so that they don’t get trapped in pores, which can stretch them out.

Remember that your pores don’t determine the health or beauty of your skin. You are unique and we appreciate that about you. Take care of what you have, use quality products formulated for your skin type, and you will have the absolute best skin possible. 

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