Are you washing your face with hot water to open your pores and finishing off with a splash of cold water to close them up again?
Don’t bother. It’s a waste of time. We’ve already talked about how the whole closing pores with cold water thing doesn’t work. If that doesn’t work, why would hot water?
Let’s put the “hot water opens pores” myth to rest once and for all, shall we?
Why Hot Water Can’t Open Pores
Truth bomb: NOTHING can open pores. Not even hot water. Pores aren’t doors. You can’t open and close them at will.
But, where does this myth come from? Every myth has a grain of truth in it, after all…
If you’ve ever tried to treat sore muscles, you’ll know that heat can relax them. Cold, on the other hand, makes them contract.
If pores had muscles, it’d make sense that cold water would relax (open) them while cold water would contract (close) them. But they don’t have muscles, so this theory does NOT apply to them.
Related: Can Hot Water Close Pores?
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What Does Hot Water Really Do For Your Skin?
Hot water can’t open pores, but it helps unclog them.
It works like this: excess sebum, comedogenic skincare ingredients, dead skin cells, and other crap accumulates inside your pores, forming clogs that make them swell and look larger than their natural size.
Heat helps melt away all the oils and fats stuck in your pores, so they can freely flow out of them. The more crap you melt away, the quicker your pores go back to their original size.
FYI, you don’t need to use hot water for this. A BHA exfoliant does the job without hurting your skin. Hot water may seem innocuous, but it has side effects…
Related: 3 Science-Based Ways To Shrink Pores
Are There Any Side Effects When You Wash Your Face With Hot Water?
You’re not going to like this.
I love showering with HOT (read: “so-boiling-hot-you-can-cook-an-egg-in-there”) water. I’d love nothing better for it to open my pores, so my serums and moisturizers could penetrate deeper and work better.
Truth is, I’m just drying out my skin and making it wither like an old prune. Hot water is terribly drying to the skin. It disrupts the skin’s protective barrier, leaving it dry, tight, and flaky. Oh, and more prone to irritations, too!
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin
What’s The Best Way To Unclog Pores?
Salicylic acid. This oil-soluble exfoliant penetrates deep inside your pores, removing all the crap that’s clogging them up. While it’s at it, it also exfoliates the surface of your skin, preventing new dead cells from falling into your pores in the first place.
For best results, use it every other night. Daily exfoliation is a no-no. Unless you have oily, resistant skin, it can lead to dryness and irritation.
- FaceTheory BHA Exfoliating Serum S3 with 2% Salicylic Acid (£18.99): Available at Facetheory
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($29.00): Available at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Paula’s Choice and Selfridges
- The Inkey List Beta Hydroxy Acid ($10.99): Available at Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin
The Bottom Line
Hot water can’t open pores. But it can dry out the skin. Be careful with it!
Gio, what about the effect of steam on pores? My aesthetician always applies steam when I get a facial.
Laurie, steam can’t open pores but can soften skin and allow active ingredients to penetrate better inside the skin.
Thanks Gio. Good to know at least it has a purpose!
Laurie, you’re welcome. 🙂
This is why I love your blog. You bust down all those myths. 😀
Trisha, aww thank you! 🙂
That was really good info. I agree hot water can dry out the skin by stripping the natural oils from the skin. Hence, skin will produce more oils to compensate.
Tips and Beauty, so true. Better use lukewarm water.
i wish there was a way to get rid of pores..i have it on my entre face 🙁 could you also do a post on a skin care routine to be followed to make them look less visible
Purva, sure. In the meantime, you can check out this post: http://beautifulwithbrains.com/2012/08/28/how-can-i-make-my-large-pores-look-smaller/ 😉
if my skin is oily and i use hot water can it help to reduce my oilyness?
Anne, rose has some astringent properties but what you need is a salicylic acid exfoliant.