By Abby Vinas
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Dealing with blackheads and whiteheads is frustrating. Most of us would do anything to figure out a way to open those pores, dig out the gunk that’s accumulated inside, and rid our skin of its acne woes forever. Unfortunately, skin care isn’t that simple.
While many believe it’s important to use steam or hot showers to open up their pores, this widespread practice is based more in fiction than fact. If you’ve researched how to open your pores, you’ve likely discovered that your pores don’t open and close. However, this belief that there's a secret answer to "how to open up your pores" continues to permeate the skin care community.
So, instead of further perpetuating this myth, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about how to improve the appearance of your pores, in a way that actually works.
Why Can't You Open Your Pores?
How can the idea of opening your pores be such a widespread misconception? It all comes down to a few pervasive myths, including the following:
- Myth #1: Steam facials open pores
- Myth #2: Cold water closes open pores
- Myth #3: You can shrink your pores
Unfortunately, none of the above are true. Understanding why is as simple as defining a pore.
A pore is simply an opening in the skin, and essentially acts as a funnel. The pores on your face serve as a path through the layers of skin, which allows the body to push out excess oil and dead skin cells. However, since they don’t have muscles, they can’t open or close.
So, There's No Way to Make Your Pores Smaller?
While there’s no real answer to “how to open your pores”, there are ways to make your pores less noticeable. And though you can’t physically reduce the actual size of your pores, you can make them appear smaller.
The bottom line is that reducing the appearance of your pores is accomplished through establishing a regular skin care regimen that incorporates daily cleansing and steaming facials—and doesn’t include you picking at your pores.
How to Clean Your Pores
While we can’t tell you how to open your pores, we can teach you how to cleanse them, which is the first step to unclogging your pores. Thoroughly cleansing your pores can make them look smaller.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the following face-washing tips should be followed to effectively clean your pores:
- Cleanse your face twice a day.
- Use warm water.
- Apply light pressure and gently wash your face.
- Pat your skin dry with a soft towel.
Choose a vegan face wash that contains naturally derived ingredients and exfoliants like our Barefaced Exfoliating Enzyme Jelly Cleanser. Barefaced gently exfoliates using fruit enzymes and deeply cleans while clearing and purifying pores to prevent future breakouts. Avoid harsh ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), as these are apt to irritate sensitive skin and are often causes of dry skin.
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How to Unclog Your Pores
Once you have a good face-washing routine in place, there are several additional measures you can take to unclog your pores, including:
- Steaming your pores
- Applying a face mask
- Exfoliating regularly
Not sure how to integrate these practices into your skincare routine? Let’s break them down one by one:
1. Steam Your Pores
Steam your face to help break up the debris that collects in your pores. This will make it easier to clear your skin of dead skin cells and bacteria. Facial steaming also induces sweating, which benefits your skin health by promoting circulation.
However, those with skin conditions like rosacea should be careful with their steaming practices. Exposure to heat can increase the severity of rosacea symptoms, causing inflammation and red facial flushing. Excessive steaming can be harmful for those struggling with dry skin or conditions like eczema, as it can cause irritation.
Another note of caution is to use the right tools or visit an aesthetician who is experienced in performing this service. Attempting to steam your face with boiling hot water carries a high risk of burns if the appropriate precautions aren’t taken.
2. Apply a Face Mask
Use a face mask a few days a week to deeply cleanse your pores. Face masks provide a deeper cleaning because they're able to penetrate further into the skin since they are typically applied for much longer than your daily cleanser.
When choosing a face mask, consider the specific issues you are hoping to address including dry skin and specific areas of breakout. You should also exercise caution when selecting a face mask because they are not all created equal. Make sure you read the label and avoid those with irritating ingredients like fragrances.
Our vegan face masks contain vitamins, antioxidants, and other important nutrients to help your skin look and feel its best. Our Pore Purifier mask includes antimicrobial micro-silver, witch hazel, and Floralux® to unclog your pores and battle breakouts while nourishing your skin.
3. Exfoliate Regularly
What does exfoliation do? Exfoliating several times per week to help remove dead skin cells and other debris that are clogging pores. However, if you have sensitive skin, you should limit how often you exfoliate if you notice irritation.
While exfoliation can do a lot of good for your skin, especially when it comes to unclogging pores, it can also be damaging if it’s not done right. Make sure you practice the proper exfoliation technique to avoid causing harm to your skin.
When it comes to your exfoliating products, we recommend using a product with salicylic acid, like our Treat vegan acne treatment gel which also includes ingredients like natural oat kernel extract to soothe and hydrate the skin. Depending on the severity of your acne, you could also schedule a professional extraction with a dermatologist who can help you safely unclog your pores.
For extra exfoliation, our Brighten Up, Sunshine mask is the perfect addition to your routine. It gently exfoliates, brightens, and moisturizes your skin with an invigorating blend of pineapple, fine coconut shell granules, apple, and avocado, plus it’s super-charged with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. You can find this mask in our Exfoliation Duo, which also includes our Barefaced Exfoliating Enzyme Jelly Cleanser.
These tips serve as good starting points for achieving cleaner pores. But all in all, when it comes to unclogging your pores, a plant-based, non-toxic skincare routine is the key to keeping your complexion clear.
How to Open Your Pores: Bad Habits to Avoid
With a better understanding of what you can do to unclog your pores (which we know now is commonly misconstrued as how to open your pores), let’s take a look at the things you might be unintentionally doing that are making your problem worse, including:
- Picking your face
- Using pore strips
- Trying potentially harmful DIY methods
- Forgetting to wear sunscreen
It’s not uncommon for blogs, magazines, and other sources to make claims that they’ve found the key to overcoming a common skin issue, but following these popular skincare mistakes may leave you worse off than before. As a leader in skincare and health and wellness products, we have a few professional tips we’d like to share:
1. Don't Pick at Your Pores
You’ve heard it before but we’ll say it again: Whatever you do, do not pick at your face in an effort to unclog pores. Popping pimples or trying to remove other debris by using your fingernails (or another sharp object) can cause trauma to your skin, make acne more noticeable, or even spread infection.
2. Don't Rely on Pore Strips
There are plenty of brands touting pore-cleansing strips. These pieces of sticky tape are applied directly to the skin, then ripped cleanly away, pulling out the contents of your pores along with them—at least, that’s what is promised.
While you may be able to see blackhead remnants stuck to the strip post-extraction, these strips are only removing the top layer of the gunk in your pores. The rest then works its way to the surface of the follicle, and once it oxidizes, you’re right back where you started. Repeated use of these pore strips can actually rob your face of its natural oils, resulting in excessive dryness.
So, what’s the big takeaway from all this? You can't open and close your pores or shrink them down. However, there is good news—with the right skin care regimen, you can keep your pores from becoming clogged and noticeable.
3. Don’t Try Unproven DIY Remedies
While DIY remedies are often more affordable and easier to try in the comfort of your own home, they can have some pretty high risks.
For example, some people recommend baking soda as a DIY scrub. However, it can alter the pH balance of your skin, leaving it dry and irritated. Lemon, another common DIY skincare ingredient, can have similar effects.
Instead: Invest in a great cleanser, be gentle with your skin, and exfoliate regularly to keep your pores clean and your skin looking its best.
4. Wear Sunscreen Daily
Unprotected sun exposure can break down elastin and collagen in the skin, leading to larger pores. Avoid this by always wearing sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection. SunFilter and SunShady are our mineral zinc oxide sunscreens for face and body that not only protect against harmful UV rays, but also defend the skin against blue light, environmental pollutants and free radicals.
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How to Open Your Pores: FAQs
Still have unanswered questions? Let’s address other common concerns and confusion when it comes to pores.
How Can You Open up Pores?
There’s no answer to “how to open up pores on your face”, other than that it simply cannot be done. However, you can cleanse your pores which will help them appear smaller.
Why Are the Pores on Your Face More Noticeable Than the Rest of Your Body?
You have pores covering the surface of your body, but the ones on your face are considered troublemakers because they tend to appear larger than those on other areas of the body.
Your facial pores tend to be larger than the pores found elsewhere on your body because they are connected to a greater number of sebaceous glands, which are responsible for the body’s production of sebum (a waxy substance that keeps your skin soft and supple).
In fact, the face, shoulders, chest, and back are the areas of the body with the most sebaceous glands—and are commonly the areas we break out in. When the sebaceous glands overproduce oil (due to hormonal fluctuations or just plain old genetics), the pores become clogged—this can stretch out your pores, making them appear larger.
Does Everyone Have Different Sized Pores?
While pores on your face can’t shrink or expand, you’ve likely noticed your pores look smaller or larger in comparison to your friends.
Have you ever wondered “why is my skin so oily?” or “why are my pores so big?”—according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), this difference is largely a result of genetics. Pore size is, in part, dependent on hereditary factors; if your parents or grandparents have large pores and oily skin, it’s likely that you do as well. However, being genetically predisposed to larger, more noticeable pores doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to keep them clear.
Do Your Pores Get Bigger as You Age?
The firmer your skin is, the less visible your pores will be. Unfortunately, time doesn’t treat our pores well, and the loss of firmness that occurs over the years can cause the appearance of large pores.
While they won’t technically widen, your pores do tend to look bigger as you age. This is largely due to the loss of collagen, which is responsible for keeping your skin tight. As you age, your body’s storage of collagen and elastin fibers start breaking down.
Gravity also plays a role, pulling the skin in a downward motion. As this continues, your pores begin to stretch, distending and taking on more of an oval shape.
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Key Takeaways: How to Open Pores
- There is no real answer to “how to open pores”. Instead, you should be asking how to unclog pores.
- While you can’t open or close your pores, you can make them look smaller.
- Proper face-washing is the most important factor in helping keep you pores clean.
- Steaming treatments, face masks, and exfoliation can also help unclog your pores.
- Picking, pore strips, using unproven DIY methods and unprotected sun exposure can make your skin problems worse.
- A well-maintained skincare routine is the key to a clear complexion.
Abby Vinas has long been an active member of the holistic health community, advocating in favor of its benefits to both our physical and emotional well-being. Her commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle has made her an authority on self-care practices. Abby is passionate about fitness, nutrition, and proper skincare, and is also an avid lover of avocado toast and dog-petting.