Why Cold-Water Rinsing When You Wash Your Face Isn't Doing You Any Favors

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We've all heard the old advice: Rinse your face with cold water to close your pores after cleansing. The idea makes enough sense on the surface — warm water and steam open your pores, so cold water should close them, right? Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. In fact, the entire concept of your pores opening and closing is simply incorrect. Bear with us now! This myth is incredibly pervasive, but science proves it untrue. In an effort to better understand how your pores work and the best ways to take care of them, we've broken down the myth for you. 

First, it begins with understanding your dermatology. It can be easy to forget that your skin is the largest organ in your body, and, as such, pores are everywhere. So what are pores? According to Healthline, pores are openings in your skin that are connected to your oil glands and hair follicles. Thus, they play an essential role in releasing oil, particularly sebum, from your skin, which helps your skin stay moisturized. According to dermatologist Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, the changes some may see after washing their face in varying temperatures might be the effect of a different function. "I think people tend to react to transient changes that you can see from your blood vessels opening and closing. It has nothing to do with the actual pore itself," she told Harper's Bazaar. 

The real deal with your pores

The pores you have cannot be changed in size nor opened and closed, though you can slightly alter their appearance with certain cosmetic procedures, skin care products, or makeup. According to Dr. Sapna Palep, "There is nothing that can physically make the pores smaller or bigger," (via Skincare.com). According to the Dermatology Specialists, much of the reason your pores are the way they are is due to genetics, as well as your exposure to the sun and aging. As we age, skin loses its elasticity, causing the pores to become slightly larger as a result. And sun exposure can damage your skin cells, making pores appear larger. 

Keeping your pores healthy and clean is the best way to minimize any potential for their enlargement, and there are a few actions you can take to care for your pores. First, exfoliating your skin is important, but one of the biggest mistakes you make when exfoliating is doing it too often. Start with once a week. Next, be sure to apply sunscreen. There are plenty of new ways to get sunscreen into your routine, so you have no excuse! And making several changes to your everyday routines, including quitting smoking, staying hydrated, and eating healthy, can all contribute to keeping your pores clear and functional. 

Minimizing the appearance of your pores

But should you be worried about the size of your pores, or you frequently run into issues with enlarged pores, we found several natural and home remedies for enlarged pores, including using clay or charcoal masks, as well as products that will actually minimize pores, such as the cult favorite Paula's Choice BHA Liquid Exfoliant

You can also see your dermatologist for treatments. A chemical peel using BHA or AHA ingredients and hydroxy acids can unclog pores and slough away dead skin cells, per the Cleveland Clinic. Retinols and Retin-A can work wonders for pores over time. And microneedling and laser therapies can also boost collagen in the skin, making your pores appear smaller. Using a pore-minimizing primer under your foundation, such as the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Hydrating Primer, which blurs the skin while moisturizing, can also help reduce the appearance of pores. 

But at the end of it all, dermatologist Dr. Jane Wu tells the Cleveland Clinic that the best thing you can do is to throw away your magnifying mirror. "People tend to fixate on their pores and look at them with a magnifying glass," says Dr. Wu. "Then they think their pores are gigantic. My advice is to get rid of your magnifying mirror. No one else is looking at your face that closely."