Skin Pores: Myths and Facts

There’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo surrounding skin pores, tiny openings that contain oil-producing sebaceous glands and allow dead skin cells to reach the suface. Allow us to walk you through some common pore misconceptions and set the record straight.

Myth: Your pores open and close.

Fact: This might just be the biggest misconception out there, egged on by talk of cold-water rinses that magically make pores slam shut, and steam facials that open them up again. Unfortunately, your pores don’t open and close like a doggie door. Here’s what does happen: Steam can help loosen the sebum that builds up inside pores. Once that sebum gets cleared out, pores appear smaller. (Yes, we said appear smaller.)

Myth: You can shrink your pores.

Fact: It’s hard to hear, we know, but your pore size mainly depends on your genes. Fair-skinned people tend to have less-visible pores, while those with darker and/or oily skin may have more prominent ones. But while you can’t physically shrink your pores, there’s still a lot you can do to minimize their appearance. Dead skin cells, sebum buildup, leftover makeup, and even melanin (the pigment found naturally in skin) can darken pores and cause them to appear larger, making proper cleansing and exfoliating your best allies. For daily upkeep, we recommend Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser, and once or twice a week, we like to scrub away those dead skin cells with ORIGINS Modern Friction Nature's gentle dermabrasion.

Myth: You pores look bigger as you age.

Fact: This one, sadly, is true. As you age, your skin loses collagen (a process accelerated by UV exposure, so don’t forget SPF!). And with less collagen to keep them tight, pores start to slacken and stretch. A pore can also lose its shape if you pick or squeeze your pimples. So quit picking at your face and turn to a pore-sucking treatment instead. We love Dr. Brandt’s immensely gratifying pores no more vacuum cleaner.

Myth: Minimizing pores is a fool’s errand.

Fact: Not so fast. There are a variety of ways to make your pores less visible without Photoshop or a Halloween mask. In addition to regular, deep cleansing, an oil-free primer like Benefit The POREfessional can give your skin a smooth, nearly poreless appearance. And since oily pores tend to appear larger, apply a mattifying balm throughout the day—like dr. brandt pores no more pore refiner.

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