Debunking Misconceptions About Pores

Debunking Misconceptions About Pores


Have you ever bought a skincare product because it promised to make your pores smaller? Or maybe you’ve tried those black peel-off masks that claim to unclog all the stuff in your pores. The bottom line is that many of us probably have many misconceptions about our pores and how much we can actually control them. When we think of pores, we think of openings in our face that cause texture irregularities in the skin as well as a conduit for acne and blackheads. We envy those who have “poreless”, smooth skin and lament every small hole we can spot on our faces. Can we actually shrink our pores? That and a bunch of other misconceptions and questions will be addressed in this article!

What are pores?

Before we do that though, let’s go through what powers are exactly first:

Pores are essentially small, little openings in the skin that let oil and sweat to secrete out of the skin from the glands they are produced from. There are two different types of pores, oil pores, and sweat pores. Oil pores are connected to an oil or sebaceous gland. They are larger than sweat pores and when we refer to pores we are probably talking about oil pores since these are the openings that can actually be visibly seen on our faces. Oil pores can come in different sizes depending on the level of oil gland activity. If your oil glands produce more oil, your oil pores are more likely to be larger and more visible since a larger opening is needed to secrete a greater amount of oil. Oil pores are mostly found all over the skin except the hands and soles of your feet. Meanwhile, sweat pores are found all over the skin. They’re also very, very small, so small we can’t see them without a microscope. These are the pores through which our sweat gets released.

Pore Myth #1: Our pores can open and close

You might have been advised to “steam your face to let your pores open up”. That isn’t accurate as technically our pores cannot open and close the way you think they can. Pores aren’t like the stoma of plant leaves that open and close to release and take in gases. Although they cannot open or close, pores can stretch out. Your pores do not open up when exposed to heat, but the misconception is understandable. When you steam your face, the buildup within the pore might come dislodged and come to the surface. This is what people mean by steam helps to unclog pores. It isn’t the pore itself that opens up rather it is the gunk inside that gets loosened. A pore can also stretch out in certain situations such as when there is an overproduction of oil from the sebaceous gland. When there is nowhere for the oil to go since there is excess oil, the pore opening will stretch out due to this backlog of oil.

Pore Myth #2: Clogged pores mean that your face is dirty

One of the more common assumptions is that if you have clogged pores, it’s because your face is dirty and it is the dirt that is clogging up the pores. However, that isn’t true because clogs don’t occur due to dirt from the environment. A clogged pore is called a comedone, and there are two types — a closed one and an open one. You might also know them as blackheads and whiteheads. Clogs don’t occur because dirt gets into the skin, clogs occur due to a buildup of dead skin cells and excess oil on the skin, creating a blockage in the pore. It is possible that there might be some dirt but it isn’t solely dirt.

Pore Myth #3: Only people with oily skin have pore problems

It is true that people with oily skin are more likely to have bigger pores since their sebaceous gland activity is higher. However, everyone has pores that behave differently depending on your environment, skin care habits, and genetics. People with dry skin very much have pores as well, and while excess oil might not be a problem for them that doesn’t mean pore problems only affect those with oily skin. Pores can be enlarged by lifestyle factors such as sun damage, and aging can also be a cause for more visible pores.

Pore Myth #4: Washing my face multiple times a day will unclog my pores

Clogged pores and the development of comedones don’t have much to do with how much you wash your face. While you should definitely wash your face to get rid of excess oil and the build-up of product and grime on your face, you don’t have to wash your face numerous times throughout the day in an effort to unclog your pores. Furthermore, washing your face too many times might result in drying out your face, and paradoxically it might even result in increased oil production because the oil glands in the skin sense a drop in skin oil levels, causing them to produce even more oil. This might just be the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve, as your skin oil levels will actually rise!

Pore Myth #5: The more I use chemical exfoliators, the cleaner my pores will be

Chemical exfoliators such as retinoids and acids are certainly very effective products at maintaining your skin. However, these products do not deep clean your pores the way you might think they do. The process of chemical exfoliation, however, is not penetrating into the pores to remove whatever impurities and dirt there might be. What chemical exfoliators do is speed up the cell turnover process, causing the removal of dead skin cells to get faster and hence reduce the build-up of skin cells. Hence, it does not remove the clogs in your pores but rather just removes the layers of dead skin to unveil fresh skin underneath. Chemical exfoliators are also quite strong so using them too often will cause irritation and rawness.


There are many myths surrounding pores and maybe you’ve bought into some of them. However, much of what we see are misconceptions. There is no opening and closing of pores and clogs don’t happen because you are dirty. Understanding how pores actually work will be very crucial in developing a skincare routine that works for you and your skin concerns!

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