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Illustration of a person applying skincare products to the face with text reading "Facial Pores" on the right side. In the bottom right corner, there is a small image of almonds with the number 10 above them. The background is light blue, emphasizing the importance of skin health.

Why Do We Have Pores, And Could We Not?

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It’s Q&A Day at 10almonds!

Have a question or a request? We love to hear from you!

In cases where we’ve already covered something, we might link to what we wrote before, but will always be happy to revisit any of our topics again in the future too—there’s always more to say!

As ever: if the question/request can be answered briefly, we’ll do it here in our Q&A Thursday edition. If not, we’ll make a main feature of it shortly afterwards!

So, no question/request too big or small 😎

❝Do we really need pores, and why are they bigger on the face?❞

Pores secrete sweat or sebum (there are different kinds of pores for each).

If we didn’t have sweat pores, we’d be unable to sweat, which superficially may seem like a bonus, but it’d make us prone to overheating (like dogs, pigs, and other mammals that cannot sweat).

If we didn’t have sebum pores (usually called hair follicles, which are supplied by a sebaceous gland), we’d be completely hairless, and also unable to supply our skin with natural oils that keep it healthy. So we’d have no hair and very unhappy skin.

Which is ironic, because to believe beauty magazines, we must at all costs minimize our pores (and indeed, interventions like botox* can kill them).

*Let’s give that its full name though:

Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A in the Treatment of Facial Seborrhea and Acne: Evidence and a Proposed Mechanism

Suffice it to say, we do not recommend getting injected with neurotoxins unless it is truly necessary to ward off a greater harm.

As for being bigger on the face, they need not be, but sebaceous glands are more active and numerous there, being most active and numerous in the face/forehead—which is why oily skin is more likely to appear there than other parts of the body.

If your facial sebaceous glands are too active for your liking…

…there are ways to reduce that, a simple and relatively gentle way (relative, for example, botox) is with retinoids, including retinols or retinoic acids. Here’s some of the science of that; the paper is about treating acne, but the mechanism of action is the same (down-regulating the sebaceous glands’ action):

The treatment of severe cystic acne with 13-cis-retinoic acid: evaluation of sebum production and the clinical response in a multiple-dose trial

The potential side-effects, however were noted as:

  • Cheilitis
  • Desquamation of the skin
  • Pruritus

Which, in translation from sciencese, means:

  • Chapped lips
  • Flaky skin
  • Itchiness

Which aren’t necessarily fun, which is why with retinoids are best taken in very small doses at first to see how your skin reacts.

Remember when we said what your skin would be like without pores? This is what would happen, only much worse.

Take care!

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