Do Pores Open Wider in Hot Water?

Bath tap with hot sign close up
Hot water may not enlarge your pores, but what can you do to get rid of blackheads?

When you look in the mirror, the last thing you want to see staring back at you are scores of tiny, black pores. Despite their tendency to clog, pores are actually very important, because they allow us to sweat. If we couldn't sweat, we wouldn't be able to maintain a safe body temperature. They also secrete a natural lubricant called sebum, which is supposed to moisturize and protect our skin.

Sometimes, however, sebum ends up clogging our pores and giving us blackheads instead. So how do we keep that from happening? Most people think using steam or hot water to wash your face helps because it opens your pores, but in reality, that's just a myth.


Pores are nothing more than tiny openings in your skin. They don't have muscles, and that means they can't open or close [source: Vinakmens]. It doesn't matter what you do -- there's no way to change the size or your pores. There is a reason for some of the confusion, however.

While hot water can't actually change the size of your pores, it might help loosen all of the dark spots that are clogging up them up. The same goes for steam. It's important to realize, though, that this has nothing to do with changing the size of your pores. It's simply an effective way of cleaning them out, and getting rid of excess debris and makeup can actually make pores look smaller. So, if you want to make your pores less noticeable, try washing your face regularly, especially following any strenuous activities that might cause you to sweat excessively. Regular exfoliation can help as well [source: Vinakmens].

For lots more information on pores and facial skin care, see the links on the next page.


Pores Open FAQ

How do you make pores less noticeable naturally?
Hot water or steam cleans dirt, debris, and old makeup out of pores, which can loosen all of the dark spots and make them appear smaller, even though you haven't changed the size of them. Masking and exfoliating can also help reduce the appearance of pores, as well as using skincare products that are water-based and non-drying.
What do large pores indicate?
Inelastic or loose skin makes pores appear larger and more dilated, which is a factor in why some people have larger pores. But how big pores appear can indicate whether they're clogged with oil and bacteria. If that's the case, it's time to mask, deep cleanse, and exfoliate your face.
Can pores be permanently closed?
No, they can't. Pores are very important, as they allow us to sweat which helps maintain a safe body temperature. They also secrete sebum, which moisturizes and protects skin.
Can you shrink your pores?
There's no way to change the size of your pores. Pores are just tiny openings in your skin. They don't have muscles, meaning that they can't open or close. So while you can keep your pores clean and clear, you can't shrink them.
Is it bad to squeeze your nose pores?
Even though you may be tempted, you shouldn't make a habit of squeezing your nose pores. This can stretch the pore even more, enlarging it over time as the skin loosens. It can also cause damage and scarring to the surrounding tissue.
Can ice close pores?
Using ice on your face is a popular Korean beauty trend, but it's not backed by science. Ice doesn't shrink pores (they can't be shrunk, remember?), but it can reduce puffiness, which may make it look like your pores have shrunk. Unfortunately, you can actually burn the skin in the process and the results are only temporary.

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Lehrer, Michael. "Blackheads." MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Oct. 10, 2008. (Sept. 14, 2009)
  • Vinakmens, Kristen. "Myths and truths about your pores." Best Health Magazine. Aug. 2009. (Sept. 14, 2009)