You’ve probably been told at least once in your life that a steam facial will open the pores in your skin and cleanse out any dirt and oils that may be clogging them. Maybe you’ve tried it and found that it did help clear up those nasty blackheads. If it did work, we can guarantee it’s NOT because your pores were actually opened by steam.
Over the years, countless products and spa treatments have claimed to “open” or “close” the pores in your face. Contrary to popular belief, pores cannot physically open or close. Unlike the valves in our heart that open and close, pores don’t have muscles. They are holes in our skin that house hair follicles and sebaceous (oil-producing) glands and allow us to sweat; simple as that.
The reason that pores can appear to look opened and closed is all a matter of how clogged they are. When dirt, dead skin cells and oil collect in the pores, they make them look larger. If your pores are relatively clear, using a “pore-tightening” astringent will cause the facial tissue to swell around the pores, giving them the appearance of being smaller. In reality, pore size is determined by the size of the follicles and glands inside them—they don’t actually expand or shrink on a regular basis (although age and sun damage do reduce the firmness of skin around a pore, which can permanently make it look larger).
The Verdict: Fiction (sort of.) There is a bit of truth behind the ‘pore-opening steam facial’ myth: steam (or just hot water) can in fact help to loosen the debris that’s clogging your pores and causing acne. Cleaning out this dirt will prevent blackheads and whiteheads from forming and reduce the appearance of your pores. Regular exfoliation and face washing with a gentle cleanser can help keep your pores clear and make them less noticeable.
How do you keep your skin clear?