We’ve all heard it over and over again: Countless skincare products and spa treatments have promised to “open” or “close” the pores in our faces. Contrary to these marketing claims, pores don’t open or close like doors. Pores don’t have muscles that open and close. They’re simply holes in our skin allowing it to breathe, absorb products, sweat, and they house hair follicles and sebaceous (oil-producing) glands.

Another story that gets told untold times is that you can get rid of your pores, or make them disappear. You can’t change the number of pores you have or their natural size. These are determined genetically but may increase the older you get.

If they are bothersome because they’re too prominent, they probably are wider and deeper than they should be. When oil and dirt collect in the pore, it can become blocked. A blocked pore can stretch so that it appears bigger. When pores stay clogged that’s when we get acne.

Image by Kjerstin Michaela Haraldsen

Heat or Cold

The last myth that needs busting is “hot water to open the pores, cold water to close them”. Heat dilates the pore opening slightly, making it appear wider. Cold makes the pore opening constrict, and the pores appear tighter. But both effects are of a temporary nature. After a few moments, your skin temperature returns to how it was before washing along with the pore size.

Even if hot water does not open pores to clean out oils or debris, steaming is beneficial for the skin. It softens the skin and improves blood flow. This also softens and loosens the dirt that is clogging the pores. All in all, it allows a better exfoliation and ingredients absorption.

Do keep in mind that the best temperature to wash is lukewarm water.

Even if you can’t reduce the number of pores or their size, you can minimise their appearance and as a result, make you look more youthful.

Keep Your Face Clean

Makeup, oil, dirt, and other impurities can clog your pores. It’s therefore no surprise that the easiest way to minimise the appearance of pores is to keep them clean. Always double-cleanse before bed.

If you wear makeup, always use clean makeup brushes and avoid touching or picking your face.


Exfoliate regularly with gentle AHAs and BHAs. These ingredients can penetrate and clear out the pores and prevent them from stretching and getting loose.

AHAs are water-soluble and work on the skin surface. They are more suited for people with dry or sensitive skin.

BHAs are oil-soluble and penetrate deeper into the skin. They are a good choice for oily or acne-prone skin.

It’s important not to over-exfoliate, that is don’t exfoliate more than twice a week. Exfoliating too often can dry out your skin or worse leave your skin sore and irritated.

Be Gentle To Your Skin

Also avoid physical scrubs, forcefully rubbing or squeezing your skin. This can expand the pores, even permanently.

Moisturise Twice a Day

Moisturising has more than one beneficial effect on your skin. Not only does it prevent your skin to get dry (and flaky), it also helps to prevent enlarged pores. Moisturisers hydrate, soften, and of course, moisturises the skin. This allows the skin’s natural oil to penetrate deeper into the skin. As the sebum does not sit on the surface, it will not close the pores.

Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Always protect your skin from sun exposure. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily as part of your everyday skincare. It is integral not only for your health and anti-aging but it helps prevent large pores.

Collagen and elastin strengthen the walls of pores. Age can break as well as the sun can break down these substances and you are left with larger pores and stretchier skin.

Sun damage can also lead to dry skin so that pores may appear larger.

Use A Retinoid

As we’ve seen with age or sun damage, collagen can weaken and break down leading to a weakening of the lining of the pores and this in turn will make the pores appear larger. Use a retinoid in your evening skincare to boost collagen generation and prevent the pore-lining from weakening. Retinoids also clear oil and other debris from blocking up the pores.

Use Noncomedogenic Products

Noncomedogenic products are specially formulated to avoid blocking pores and the resulting pimples. Noncomedogenic means to not cause comedones, that is to not clog pores.

Try to avoid heavy and rich creams. You may need to be extra careful with sunscreens.

Do you know of other ways to minimise the appearance of pores? Leave it in the comments!

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