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Myth vs. Fact: Steam Opens Your Pores and Ice Closes Them

Myth: Your pores open with steam and close with ice.

Fact: Your pores are not like a door that “opens” and “closes.”

Pores are little openings on the surface of your skin. Their main function is to release oils and sweat! Pores are a normal physiologic structure that are present all over our skin. Well, except for skin around our palms and soles. Other than that, pores are everywhere on our skin to lubricate and moisturize with oil produced by our oil glands. This is a completely natural way for our skin to keep itself supple, moisturized and healthy. So let’s jump into this myth around pores opening with steam and closing with ice!

Pores and heat

There’s an old belief that steam and heat will open your pores. But pores don’t have any muscle structure! They can’t open or close of their own accord. What you might be witnessing is the heat helping the stuff inside your pore “melt” and loosen so it can be more easily extracted. That’s why before you have your facial session, your aesthetician may or may not steam your face before the extraction process.

While “melting” the debris in your pores sounds like fun, those with certain skin conditions be careful! Those with eczema or rosacea need to avoid applying too much heat to their skin, since this can exacerbate inflammation.

Pores and ice

Another myth we keep hearing is that applying ice will “close” your pores. Again, since pores don’t have any muscular structure they can’t entirely “close.” What happens is your skin will produce less sebum, making your pores “appear” smaller and tighter. But be careful, don’t apply ice for too long or else it may damage the capillaries and cause ice burn!

Pore size factors

When it comes to pores, there are three factors that greatly determine their size:


It runs in the family. If your parents have visibly larger pores, it’s more likely you will have larger pores as well. Genetics play a big role in the baseline size of your pores.

Sebum production

When our skin produces more sebum our pores tend to dilate to this, so when more oil is produced the larger the pores may appear.

Skin’s elasticity

The sad truth is, as we age our skin loses elasticity. This allows the pore’s opening to appear larger than they actually are.

Picky and Pores

If you want to find ingredients that can help with pores, check out our article here! And we even have a few products we “Picked” to help you get started. Use the “Pore Care” filter on the Picky app to find products that fit your skin’s needs. Don’t forget to follow us on instagram and check out our blog for more skincare science content!

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