hot water opens pores skincare myth

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?

Want to get the most out of your skincare products? Click on the image below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the “How To Combine Actives Like A Pro” cheatsheet.

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.

Best picks:

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!