The pores on our skin are pretty important. They’re important for our health. They impact our appearance. And if they’re not treated right, they can easily cause us a lot of problems. Despite all that, most people don’t know much about pores. Yet knowledge is power. If you had more knowledge about the pores on your skin, your chances of having great, glowing skin would be much higher. If that sounds good to you, it’s time for a little 101 on skin pores.

I’ll Take Pores For 100, Alex

First thing’s first: what are pores? Scientifically speaking, pores are tiny openings in the skin which make it so liquid and oxygen can go in and out. There are two types of pores: sweat pores and oil pores. Additionally, every hair follicle is housed by a pore, though not every pore has a hair follicle.

Without pores, sweat and oil would not be able to get to the skin’s surface and pass through. These are necessary bodily functions; we need our pores to live. Without them, our bodies would get pretty messed up. In fact, the role pores play in skin health is an important one. They keep the skin moisturized and supple, not to mention healthy. They also are necessary for hair to grow, hair whose primary purpose is to keep the skin protected.

The average adult’s pore count is five million. Of those five million, 20,000 pores are on the face alone. That’s a lot of pores.

Pore Size, And Is It Changeable?

Everyone has pores, the pores we are born with. The size of our pores is determined by a variety of factors, none of which we have any control over. The first factor is genes. Another factor is skin type. Those with oily skin tend to have larger pores because they overproduce sebum oil, which is actually a waxy substance. When there is too much sebum produced, it ends up sitting under the skin, causing the pore to expand. For this reason, the pores on the chin and nose tend to be bigger than other pores on the body, as these regions tend to produce more grease.

Skin sensitivity is another factor in pore size. People with sensitive skin then often have larger pores because it is easier for their skin to become inflamed, thus enlarging the pores. Age is another factor contributing to pores size. As we age, our skin becomes looser because it loses some of its elasticity, in turn causing stretching and wrinkling. This makes pores much more noticeable.

Contrary to popular belief, pore size cannot be changed. A lot of beauty companies make it seem like a person can shrink the size of their pores by using certain products. However, that is undeniably false. What is true is that we can make our pores appear smaller, even if they aren’t actually getting smaller.

The myth of changing pore size comes from the idea that, when heated, the sebum oil in the pores becomes more liquidy and softens. Liquid sebum has an easier time exiting the pores, making it seem like the pore is more open, or larger. Dousing the face with cold water after is said to close the pores. Again, this is not true. Cold water does not make pores smaller. Pores remain the same size at all times. One thing to be careful of is using very hot water on the face and skin in general, as it will deplete the skin of its natural oils and leave it dried out.

Why Do Pores Clog?

Debris causes the pores to clog, along with bacteria, excess oil, and dead skin. Skin that is inflamed, oily, or under-exfoliated has the highest chance of becoming clogged. As most people know, clogged skin leads to blemishes like pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. That is why it is so important to take care of your skin. There is no one way to do that because everyone’s skin is different. Those with oily skin should not treat their skin the same way as someone with sensitive skin.

As stated previously, though pore size cannot be changed, the appearance of pores can change. One way to keep the pores looking small is to control their oil production. You can do this by keeping the skin nice and hydrated so oil production is not triggered as often. Be aware that not all products that call themselves hydrating actually hydrate the skin. Some actually cause the skin to overdry, in turn leading to an increase in oil production.

Keeping your skin exfoliated is another way to reduce pores’ appearance in size. Exfoliate using glycolic and lactic acids, also known as alpha-hydroxy acids. They come from fruit enzymes and are the best at getting rid of dead skin cells.

It is also very important to keep the pores clean. Salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, is pretty much the only exfoliant that can get deep enough into the pore to really clear it out. Beware that it can cause the skin to dry out, especially if you have sensitive skin.

What’s more, touching your skin can make skin blemishes and conditions worse and lead to infection. Squeezing blemishes can not only cause significant scarring, but it also makes it easier for bacteria to get into the skin, causing even more blemishes. Actually, even touching the skin without blemishes can lead to bacteria entering. Always wash your hands before touching or cleaning your skin. It will go a long way in your skin and pore health.