Dermatologist-Reviewed Articles

5 Things You May Not Know About Pores on Your Face

woman examining pores in mirror

While much of skin care is designed to shrink, hide, cleanse, unclog and refine pores, they are an essential part of your body. Arm yourself with a few essential facts about your pores and you can save your skin from a nightly fight with painful pore-cleansing strips, drying skin care routines and unnecessary beauty rituals.

1. They’re Actually Hair Follicles

The largest organ on the body boasts plenty of surprising hidden traits. Pores allow the skin to breathe and serve as openings for hair follicles and sweat glands. The tiny hairs sprouting from your pores connect to the muscles under your skin and give you that goosepimply feeling when you’re cold. The oil gland hidden inside of each pore also produces a protective, moisturizing oil called sebum that helps skin and hair stay soft and supple.

2. They’re Made That Way

Despite the vast array of products aimed at shrinking pores, there is very little you can do to physically change the way your pores look. Genetics determine the visibility of your pores, how much oil they produce and the overall texture and tone of your skin. However, avoiding sun damage, investing in gentle moisturizers, staying away from harsh cleansers and regular exfoliation can help boost skin elasticity and keep the appearance of pores at bay.

3. They Change Shape

Pores are far from static, even though you inherit their shape and prominence. They change and transform along with skin tone and texture over the years. Pores can appear larger because of slowing collagen production, sun exposure, dry skin and especially the over-production of oil. Acne woes can also expand these tiny openings as dirt and oil get trapped, leaving behind inflammation, blackheads and the possibility of stretched pores.

4. Regular Cleansing Helps

Since inflammation, excess oil, dirt buildup and the resulting acne can all make pores more stressed and visible, a regular cleansing routine can help minimize distress and the over-production of oil. Clay jojoba masks that draw out dirt and oil buildup have been shown to help improve skin texture and decrease acne. Cleansers and masks containing charcoal might also help to absorb contaminants and excess oil trapped in the pores to keep stretching and inflammation to a minimum.

5. They Can Overcompensate

While it might seem logical to keep your skin squeaky clean when you struggle with an oily face, in reality you might be causing more distress. The oil glands at the base of your pores produce sebum to protect your skin. If skin cells start to feel dry, flaky or stressed from harsh cleansers, those glands tend to produce extra oil, continuing the cycle. Using a mild, gentle cleanser to remove dirt and excess oil without leaving skin dry keeps that oily sheen at bay. A lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer like a gel moisturizer can also help calm oily skin.


This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.

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