15 Things You Didn’t Know About Pores

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Adverts are good at two things – creating a need and then magically “solving” it.

One of the myriad of ways beauty ads can make you feel like a freak of nature is the fact that everyone’s faces are always looking silky smooth and poreless.

And then we are left wondering the same thing: who are these goddesses that not only have zero skin flaws – forget acne or pimples – but also zero pores?

Endless cosmetic products advertise cleaning out and minimizing pores, but what exactly are these tiny dots all over our skin? If you’d like to understand your largest organ a little bit better, pores are an excellent place to begin.

What are Pores?

Pores, pores, pores, we hear about them left and right.

And it seems as though every one of us knows what they are – small openings all over our skin through which oil and sweat come out to the surface when released from their glands.

But there are definitely a few (or more) things you probably didn’t know about them.

There are Two Types of Pores

Woman looking at skin in mirror

Most of us think that, if you’ve seen one pore, you’ve seen them all.

But that is just not true.

Basically, there are two types of pores:

Oil Pores

These are connected to the oil glands. They cover your skin in all places except for the skin of the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. For the most part, it is the oil pores that cause the biggest ruckus. They are usually the ones that are visible and get blocked.

Sweat Pores

These are connected to our sweat glands, and they are much smaller – usually invisible to the naked eye. They cover every inch of our skin.

Open Pores are Key to Your Skin’s Health

As mentioned above, poreless skin has become one of those beauty standards that are unattainable to most. Very often, you’ll hear someone bemoaning their large open pores – or you’ve done it yourself.

The thing is, though, you want your pores to be open.

They represent the pathway for the oil (or sebum) to make its way to the surface of the skin.

Sebum is your skin’s natural oil and plays a vital role in keeping your skin healthy. It is nature’s way of keeping your skin moisturized and supple. You don’t want to stop the production of sebum nor shrink your pores. You want them to function properly.

Blocked Pores Cause All Acne Blemishes

From tiny pimples and blackheads to breakouts and milia, all of these blemishes are the result of pore blockage.

Yeah, we know, it’s a real pain.

Typically, your pores get the oil to the surface and are great at clearing out dead skin cells, dirt, and any other debris that makes its way onto your skin. However, there are times when something goes wrong, and your pores get clogged.

If you are prone to any of these, it is important to find a treatment that works for you and keeps your pores clear.

You Can’t Change the Size of Your Pores

Woman looking at skin in mirror

We hate to be bearers of bad news, but it isn’t actually possible to reduce the size of your pores – contrary to what cosmetic companies might want you to believe.

Their physical size is simply determined by hormones and genetics. An increase in size can even be a sign of aging as skin loses collagen.

However, one of the things you didn’t know about pores is that they could just appear larger if they are clogged or filled with debris.

The first step towards minimizing the appearance of your pores is using a product containing salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is excellent for gentle cleansing of the pores unless you are pregnant. In that case, use products with glycolic, lactic, or citric acid.

The Double Cleanse Actually Works

Double cleansing is an effective way of clearing out the buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and other debris from your pores.

The double cleanse can be done in a variety of different ways.

The main kind is using an oil-based cleanser as the first step. Then, you follow it up with a foaming cleanser. The oil-based one is supposed to attract oil within the skin, drawing out any excess that might end up causing you trouble. And then, the foaming cleanser helps wash it away.

Essentially, it is possible to use any two cleansing products to do a double cleanse – even the same one twice. The whole point of the double cleanse is to remove excess oil and dirt off the surface level, and to break down makeup. The second wash is there to remove any remnants and ensure nothing clogs your pores.

Exfoliation is Crucial

Have you ever wondered how celebrities like Pharrell Williams always look so youthful, no matter their actual age?

Apparently, it’s not all genetics and fancy cosmetics. He recently shared the coveted skincare routine that has him looking like he’s been bathing in the fountain of youth every night.

Williams says that the secret to his fresh appearance is washing his face with cold water and ‘exfoliating like a madman.’

We’re still not convinced that he’s not actually bathing in the fountain of youth and just doesn’t want to tell us, to be honest. But we’ll let it slide.

While there are many different types of exfoliants, they all have the same goal at their core – getting dead skin cells out of the way.

Exfoliating regularly uncovers the fresh new cells of your skin and allows all of the costly skincare products from serums to moisturizers to penetrate your skin more deeply. There are two basic types of exfoliants – physical and chemical. Both help your pores a great deal.

Physical exfoliants are products containing small particles or things, like washcloths that have a textured surface. It is no wonder most of them are called scrubs, as they literally scrub away any debris from your skin.

Chemical exfoliants work differently. They usually come in the form of a gel and use acids or enzymes to break down or loosen the debris left in and around your pores. Some of them will flush out your pores, others will help with the overproduction of sebum.

SPF is Extremely Beneficial for Pores

Woman applying face cream

We’ve all got the memo at this point – wearing sunscreen is essential for having healthy skin when it seems like the sun’s attacking us with its rays.

However, it may not have occurred to you that slathering SPF on your face day in and day out can actually help your pores.

Sun damage causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin. As we mentioned above, collagen plays a crucial role in both the health and appearance of your pores. It fortifies the walls of your pores, keeping them from stretching or appearing large. Sunscreen can lend a helping hand, but your best bet is to limit sun exposure as much as you can.

Makeup Doesn’t Clog Pores

Very often, you’ll hear a familiar chorus – wearing makeup clogs pores.

This is not always true, however. The makeup itself isn’t able to seep into your pores and block them, but it can contain ingredients that might irritate your skin. And it is this irritation that can trigger a pore blockage.

If you are prone to breakouts, you can choose cosmetics that have the term ‘non-comedogenic’ written on them. Comedone denotes a pore clog, so this type of product won’t exacerbate your proclivity for breakouts.

It is Possible to Over-Wash Your Face

Pores are a self-cleaning system of our skin. The skin cleans and maintains itself through the production of sweat and oil.

While using cleansing products helps maintain your skin’s health, there is such a thing as overdoing it.

Washing your face many times a day can cause redness, irritation, and excessive dryness. Cosmetic professionals suggest we should be particularly careful with exfoliants. They are much harsher than the products you use day in and day out. Also, overusing scrubs and chemical exfoliants can cause your pores to look larger. Your best bet is to limit exfoliation to once a week.

Pore Strips Are Not Particularly Effective

Woman using pore strips on nose

Pore strips are often marketed as excellent aids to shrinking pores.

And, let’s admit it, they’ve become somewhat of a fad.

They gained their popularity because it can be weirdly satisfying to rip them off after the allotted time and see everything they have extracted. Using pore strips on your nose, chin or forehead can help temporarily minimize the appearance of your pores, but it doesn’t do anything substantial.

Now, if you’re into that whole thing, more power to you, but, again, take care and use them in moderation – not more often than once a week. They can irritate the skin and cause redness and other issues. You also shouldn’t use them on an area that is already inflamed. It might seem counterintuitive, but this is a surefire way to exacerbate any skin issues you might already be dealing with.

Pores Don’t Open and Close

Just as it is impossible to influence the actual size of your pores, it is also impossible to open or close them. What people usually mean by open pores are pores that aren’t clogged.

However, there is a lot of misinformation out there about what you can do to open or close your pores. For example, one of the pieces of common wisdom surrounding pores is that hot water and steam can open pores. This is actually not true; the only thing warm water or steam can do for pores is facilitate their cleansing.

But, beware, as excessive heat can stimulate the production of sebum.

Similarly, cold water is supposed to close pores according to popular opinion. However, experts say that this is one of the pore-related myths as well. Cold water can help soothe irritated skin, especially after a cleanse. This just makes pores seem smaller.

Pores Basically Determine Skin Type

Well, not pores exactly, but sebaceous glands underneath the pores determine our skin type.

Basically, depending on the amount of sebum your oil glands produce, you’ll either have dry or oily skin.

Jade Rollers Do Nothing for Pores

Woman using jade roller on face

In recent years, self-care has gained a lot of momentum, and skincare started playing a significant role in everyone’s self-care regiments.

Countless selfies with sheet masks on all across social media are proof of this. From pore strips to charcoal masks, it seems as if there is a new craze sweeping Instagram by storm every few months. One such craze took hold in late 2018 – the jade roller.

You’ve probably seen it – a handy tool made of jade (or other semiprecious stones) and used for a facial massage. Jade rollers actually date back to seventh-century China but have found an audience in the 21st century as well.

One of the promised benefits was the jade roller’s supposed ability to shrink pores.

As we have already mentioned, you can’t do anything about their size, but perhaps their appearance?

Well, tough luck. According to experts, they can’t even do that. The only possible benefit could be that the better care you take of your skin, the smaller your pores will seem. There is nothing jade rollers do that addresses pores directly.

They’re great for lymphatic drainage, but for pores – not really.

Counteract Air Pollution for Clear Pores

Air quality in big urban centers has been on a steady decline for years. Besides obvious detrimental effects on our general health, air pollution can be harmful to our skin as well. Free radicals from smog and smoke can wreak havoc on our skin.

The main way they can negatively impact pores is by causing a breakdown of collagen. They can also cause other skin issues like discoloration.

The main way to combat these free radicals is by cleansing your face. Products that contain vitamin C, vitamin E or green tea are excellent solutions for fighting the harmful effects of air pollution on your skin.

When in Doubt – Choose Clay for Pores

If you’re as into skincare as we are, you have probably noticed that plenty of facial detox masks contain clay – in some cases even more than one kind of clay.

Clay and charcoal are great at drawing all impurities out of your pores. They have magnetic properties so they cling to any piece of debris. Including them into your skincare routine will leave you with fresh looking skin that is smooth.

With regular cleansing, you will lower the chance of any clogged pores and the resulting inflammations. Finally, clay is great because it works well for all skin types – oily, dry, or combination skin.

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