Do pores open wider in hotter water?

Hot water may not enlarge your pores, but what can you do to get rid of blackheads?
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 below.

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)