Does Hot Water Open Pores? Find Out the Truth Behind This Common Rumor

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There are so many people out there that recommend washing your face with hot water to begin with, before following up with cold. The reasoning behind this is that hot water opens pores, allowing your skin to release trapped sebum, and then the cold water closes those pores back up.

In theory, this sounds great. However, that’s not how things work in reality…

Can Hot Water Open Pores?

Woman taking hot shower in the morning

The simple answer is no. Hot water cannot open your pores because your pores can’t be opened and closed – they’re not muscles [1].

However, that’s not to say that heat can’t be useful in clearing pores.

Heat actually alters the structure of your skin cells – it makes them more flexible and pliable.

This means that any debris that happens to be stuck inside your skin cells, from dirt to excess sebum, can be flushed out much more easily.

That said, any heat that you expose your pores to shouldn’t come from warm water. Water that’s too hot will only damage your skin’s protective barrier and dry it out, no matter your skin type.

As a result, your skin will likely produce even more sebum to try to compensate for its dehydration, leaving it oilier and spottier than ever.

How to Use Heat to Clear Pores and Dead Skin Cells

So, if heat is beneficial for clearing out the pores but hot water causes damage, what can you use instead?

One option is to add facial steaming into your skincare routine. Steam will melt any oil that’s trapped in your pores, allowing it to be washed away.

You could also try to cleanse your skin with a cleansing oil. However, instead of rinsing this away with lukewarm water, place a hot wet towel over your skin to remove the oil, along with any sebum that’s in your pores.

Can Cold Water Close Pores?

In the same way that hot water, and even warm water, can’t open pores, it’s not possible for cold water to close pores either. Feel free to splash cold water onto your skin each time you wash your face, but don’t expect water temperature to have any impact on your pores.

Is There Any Way to Change Pore Size?

The reason why so many people look for ways to open and close their pores is that they want to make larger pores less visible.

There are ways to do this, which we’ll be covering soon, but it’s worth knowing that, despite popular belief, you can’t actually change the size of your pores. This is something that’s determined by genetics.

However, don’t lose hope. You may not be able to change pore size, but there’s plenty that you can do to make each pore on your face less noticeable.

Woman cleaning her face with lotion and cotton pads

How to Reduce the Visibility of Large Pores

If your pores are looking stretched and enlarged, then this is likely down to the debris that’s caught within them. You may not be able to open your pores, but there are several steps that you can take to clear each pore out, which will then make it near-invisible.

The first step is to add salicylic acid to your skin care routine. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that just about every dermatologist will recommend for those with acne-prone skin.

However, unlike other chemical exfoliants, such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid not only clears dead cells from the surface of the skin, but it also delves deep into the pores, clearing those out too and leaving them clog-free.

In addition to using it on your face, salicylic acid can be used on your body too each time you shower. It’s gentle enough that it shouldn’t cause irritation.

Keeping your skin protected from sun exposure is also vital. UV rays will destroy your skin’s protein fibers, leaving your pores looking loose and dilated. Simply becoming more diligent about sunscreen use could be enough to leave your skin with a healthy glow.

Other skincare tips to keep in mind when dealing with enlarged pores is to look for skincare products containing retinol as their active ingredients. This will increase the skin cell turnover process, enabling your skin to better rid itself of debris naturally.

You could also try photodynamic therapy, but speak to your dermatologist about whether or not this would be suited to you.

Beautiful woman with fair skin close up shot


Does hot water open pores?

No, neither hot nor warm water will open your pores.

What makes your pores open?

There is nothing that can make your pores open or close since your pores aren’t muscles.

Does heat make your pores open?

No, heat doesn’t make your pores open. However, making use of heat in your skincare routine can help to clear oil and dead cells from your pores, which will make them less visible.

Which natural oils are best for clogged pores?

Tea tree oil, jojoba oil, hemp seed oil, and rosehip oil are all popular skin care oils that are great for oily skin, clogged pores, and acne. They can also be safely used on every other skin type too.


You may not be able to use warm water to open pores and cold water to close them, but this doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with large-looking pores forever.

Add the right skin care products into your routine and you’ll be able to clear away any gunk that’s trapped within your pores, which will make your pores so much less obvious.



Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.