What are pores on skin?


L’Oreal Paris Faces The Facts About Pores

  • Bigger Isn’t Always Better – Nearly four in ten women (38 percent) feel their pores are too big; this number rises to nearly fifty percent among Latina women (48 percent)
  • Making Sacrifices – Nearly half of US women (47 percent) would give up something in exchange for smaller pores; 23 percent would give up alcohol for a year, 17 percent would give up social media for a year, and 11 percent would give up shaving their legs for a year
  • Filters Are a Girl’s Best Friend – Nearly two in ten women (19 percent) edit or filter photos before posting to hide skin imperfections
  • So Long Selfies – More than one in ten women (13 percent) have avoided taking selfies because they are self-conscious of their pore size

The Path to Porexia

  • It Starts Young – One in five women (21 percent) say they began noticing the size of their pores between the ages of fifteen and twenty
  • It’s Time Consuming – More than one in ten women (13 percent) think about the size of the pores on their face seven or more times per week
  • It Interferes With Dating – More than one in ten women (14 percent) say they worry about their pore size while on a date
  • It’s A Girl Thing – Over fifty percent of men (53 percent) admit they have never noticed the size of pores on a woman’s face

Why Pores Are Critical

The average adult has five million pores on their body with approximately 20,000 on their face alone. Yes pesky, but pores are critical in allowing skin to breathe and helping the body get rid of oils and toxins. While pore size is largely determined by genetics, oil, dirt and dead skin cells that collect on the face can form blockages within pores. When this happens, pores look larger, inflamed and can cause acne to form. It is critical to wash the face daily and use skin care products with exfoliating properties to help avoid blockages within the pores. Until now, this has been easier said than done.

No More “Pore”-Me

With 73 percent of women saying they have not found a product that effectively shrinks their pore size, L’Oreal Paris comes to the rescue with the introduction of Youth Code Pore Vanisher – the first-to-mass skincare treatment that shrinks pore size both instantly and over time. The daily moisturizer formulated for universal needs takes a breakthrough approach to fighting pores by targeting them on three dimensions:

  • Surface of the Pore: Airlite powders give skin a soft-focus finish
  • Around the Pore: Targeted LHA micro-exfoliates to smooth skin’s surface. Innovative Perlite absorbs excess oil instantly for an all-day shine-free finish.
  • Within the Pore: Our highest concentration of Perline-P strengthens and tightens the skin to shrink the appearance of pore size over time.

The instant result: smooth, poreless-looking skin. In four weeks: actual pore size is reduced. In fact, after using the product for four weeks, 89 percent of women said their overall skin quality was improved and 81 percent of women said their skin appeared virtually flawless.

“Almost every day, patients come into my office complaining about their pore size. In fact, it is one of the top three skincare concerns I hear from women,” says L’Oreal Paris Consulting Dermatologist Dr. Gervaise Gerstner. “Now for the first-time, there is a product that not only temporarily minimizes the look of pores but actually shrinks the actual pore size.”

More on Pores

Women can visit PoreObsessed.com to learn more about pores and get advice on how to fight the battle against their pores. On the site, women can find expert tips from Dr. Gervaise Gerstner including the basics about pores, step-by-step regimens and answers to a wide variety of questions related to pores.

The L’Oreal Paris Youth Code Pore Vanisher is available now at mass, food and drug retailers nationwide. The product retails for $24.99.

About L’Oreal Paris

The L’Oreal Paris division of L’Oreal USA, Inc. is a total beauty care company that combines the latest technology with the highest in quality for the ultimate in luxury beauty at mass. The L’Oreal Paris brand encompasses the four major beauty categories – hair color, haircare, skincare and cosmetics – and includes such well-known brands as Preference, Excellence, Feria and Healthy Look hair color; Advanced Haircare, Advanced Hairstyle, Elnett Satin Hairspray, EverPure, EverStrong, EverSleek, EverCreme, EverStyle, EverCurl and L’Oreal Paris Kids hair care; Advanced Suncare, Youth Code, Revitalift, Age Perfect, Ideal Clean, Ideal Moisture, Sublime Bronze and Men’s Expert skincare; and the Colour Riche, True Match, Infallible, Visible Lift and MAGIC cosmetics collections, along with a portfolio of mascara including Voluminous, Double Extend and Telescopic among many others. For more information on L’Oreal Paris and its brands, and to receive personalized beauty advice, expert tips and exclusive beauty content 24-7 (wherever you may be), check out www.lorealparisusa.com.

*Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States between January 29 and February 5th, 2014 among 2,428 adults aged 18 and older by Harris Poll on behalf of Alison Brod and their client L’Oreal. Respondents included oversamples of African American and Hispanic females. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

SOURCE L’Oreal Paris USA

Pore You

Now is the time to clear up some of the myths out there about pores. Aside from medical folk and skin care professionals, very few people actually know what a pore is, let alone understand what it really does. The fact is, you can’t truly understand the skin without first knowing a little pore physiology first.

Essentially, a pore is an opening – a small hole – in the surface skin. So small that it’s indiscernible to the naked eye but even so it is large enough to secrete liquid. Pores feature in every single millimeter of our skin and we house millions of them, as do all our brethren mammals.

It takes two

The term ‘pore’ itself can be confusing because our skin actually has two kinds of pores that serve very different functions;

  1. hair follicles housing oil (sebaceous) glands (technical term: pilosebaceous unit). Their purpose is to lubricate the skin. These on the skin all over the body except for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. When these get blocked – which is extremely common – all sorts of conditions from acne to pilaris keratosis can result, depending on the location and pre-existing conditions.
  2. sweat pores serving as the ducts for sweat glands. Their purpose is to cool the body. These are everywhere but more concentrated under the arms, in the groin and on the hands and feet. It is extremely rare for these to become blocked but if they do it’s usually in the armpits.

It’s easy enough to confuse the unpleasant clammy feeling of unwashed oily skin with the unpleasant clammy feeling of unwashed sweaty skin. They may happen at the same time but they are not even remotely the same thing. Hence, a sweaty workout will not, in any way, exacerbate acne (unless there’s rubbing from straps or equipment as with acne mechanica but that’s another issue.) At the same time, ‘sweating out’ toxins is physiologically impossible since toxins (skin cell debris, bacteria etc.) lodge in the pores of plosebaceous units and not in those of sweat glands.

Pore myth #1: You can change the size of your pores.

False: Pore size is genetically determined. Just as your height is influenced by genes, so too are the size and visibility of your pores. But oftentimes, what looks like large pores are actually stubborn blackheads that have made themselves at home. With enough material (dead skin cells mixed with excess oil in the case of blackheads) accumulating, a visually invisible pore can stretch many times its natural size until it becomes an unsightly blemish.

Pore myth #2: Pores open with heat and close with cold.

False: This is perhaps the biggest fallacy of all because in and of themselves pores do nothing. Thus, when we hear or read about warmed pores ‘opening’ two mechanisms are at play here:

  1. Heat from a hot shower, steam or sauna softens pore-clogging debris (the stuff that results in blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and other conditions) so that it becomes easier to remove with exfoliation or extraction.
  2. Heat and moisture from the above, soften the skin’s elastic connective tissue fibers (our old friends collagen and elastin) so that the pores themself are stretched, making it easier to extract, exfoliate and remove debris.

So what heat and cold actually do is influence the behavior of skin plugs within the pores and the connective tissue fibers running all around them. But the pores themselves are passive; things happen to them, not by them.

A cautionary note here: Just as warm, wet skin is stretchier than when it is cold and dry, so too is it more fragile and prone to tearing, bruising and scarring. So while DIY exfoliation is wonderful for your skin, try to leave the extracting to professionals. And do not touch your face after exfoliation until you have washed your hands, even if you’ve just bathed.

Sad pore news

Unfortunately, pores can get larger and more visible with age because with the degradation of collagen and elastin over time, the skin slackens and stretches and as a consequence the pores do too.

Happy pore news

Though pore size is a roll of the genetic dice, there are lots of things you can do to reduce the look of them. First is deep cleaning and exfoliating regularly on your own. Next, get a deep cleansing facial and/or a light peel done by a professional who will be able get all the debris out without damaging your skin. Finally, if you can make the investment, consider dermatology laser and light assisted devices – particularly Fotofacial intense pulsed light – that restores the elasticity of the skin’s connective tissue, refines the texture and keeps the look of the pores under control.

Pores do happen but they don’t have to show on your skin.

Follow me on Twitter @DrAvaMD and friend me on Facebook Dr Ava Shamban

Don’t freak out, but you probably have a few dozen arachnids grinding up on the tiny shafts of hair lodged inside your face, quietly gorging themselves on your natural oils.

OK, you can freak out if you want. But there’s nothing wrong with you. These tick-like arachnids are known as face mites (in the genus Demodex) and, according to a skin-tingling new video created by the folks at KQED San Francisco, they live a peaceful life buried in the facial pores of most human adults. (The mites are not found on babies, and they are thought to be transmitted through motherly contact.)

These creepy-crawlies are eight-legged, mostly transparent and microscopic in size, measuring about 0.01 inches (0.3 millimeters) apiece, according to an NPR article accompanying the new video. They live near the roots of facial hair follicles on both men and women, hidden away inside your pores.

What’s the draw of these cramped living quarters? Consider it easy access to an all-you-can-slurp buffet of sebum — the waxy oil your face excretes to keep hydrated. Sebum is produced by glands tucked inside your pores, near the bottom of your hair follicles; Demodex mites seek out this greasy meal ticket by burrowing face-first into those pores, where they sleep by day. At night, when you’re asleep, they crawl onto the surface of your skin to mate. That’s right — there’s a nightly mite party on your face, and you’re not invited.

Given their dietary preferences, face mites are attracted to the greasiest pores on your body, including those around the cheeks, nose and forehead. According to a study published in 1992 in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, infested follicles can hold a half-dozen mites at once, with room for many more. Each mite can live for about two weeks. These mites pose no known threats to humans, unless they amass in truly huge numbers, sometimes leading to a disease called demodicosis, or demodectic mange. In humans, demodicosis can cause a red or white sheen to form on the skin, and it is often associated with a decline in immune-system response, Kanade Shinkai, a dermatologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told NPR.

But the condition is rare, Shinkai said, and most people live peacefully with their face mites until old age. Just think, in your lifetime, your nose could serve as the family home to hundreds of generations of grease-swilling, nocturnal-partying arachnids. If the thought doesn’t fill your pores with pride, consider one last silver lining: You probably won’t ever have to clean up after your Demodex houseguests. As KQED points out in the video, face mites have no anus, instead storing their poop in their bodies for the full duration of their brief lives. Now that’s just good manners.

  • In Photos: Amazing Arachnids of The World
  • Body Bugs: 5 Surprising Facts About Your Microbiome
  • The 10 Most Diabolical and Disgusting Parasites

Originally published on Live Science.

10 myths about pores you need to stop believing

  • Certain things you believe about pores might not be true.
  • Contrary to popular belief, you cannot open or close your pores, but pores can dilate and stretch.
  • At-home face masks and nose strips won’t actually shrink your pores but they can temporarily cause your pores to appear smaller.
  • INSIDER spoke with Dr. Kathleen Suozzi, director of the aesthetic dermatology program at the Yale School of Medicine to learn the truth behind some of the most common myths about pores.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

For many people, their number-one skin-care concern is their pores. Whether the goal is preventing breakouts or reducing oiliness, pores are at the center of nearly every discussion about creating a clear, glowing complexion.

Thanks to the internet, everywhere you look there’s advice about how to clear, shrink, and essentially obliterate your pores. But, some things you may have heard about pores aren’t completely true.

To learn the truth behind some common beliefs about pores, INSIDER spoke with Dr. Kathleen Suozzi, director of the aesthetic dermatology program at the Yale School of Medicine

Read on to find out why these myths about pores need to be put to rest once and for all.

MYTH: Your pores open and close

Steaming your face, working out, or using certain face masks won’t “open your pores” and “let them breathe.” Pores do not open and close like a mouth, but they can dilate (or stretch), said Dr. Suozzi.

It’s possible the confusion comes from a misunderstanding about what pores actually are. Pores are prominent openings on the skin that contain a hair follicle and sebaceous gland underneath them, Dr. Suozzi told INSIDER.

The sebaceous glands are responsible for producing oil called “sebum” that lubricates our skin. But sometimes those sebaceous glands can go into overdrive (especially in people with oily skin types), which can lead to buildup under the surface.

“Pores can dilate when the opening becomes clogged and the oil is being produced has no exit and backs up. That dilates that exit,” Dr. Suozzi explained.

As for what you’ve heard about steaming your face to open pores, it’s mostly a misunderstanding. Steam won’t cause your pores to open up like a door, but the heat can cause excess pore buildup to loosen and rise to the surface.

Of course, you should be wary of applying any excess heat (whether through steam or hot water) to your skin because it can exacerbate or trigger other skin-related issues, such as rosacea.

Read More: What 4 dermatologists eat to keep their skin clear

MYTH: Having clogged pores means your face is dirty

Since pores are on the surface of the skin, it makes sense that some people believe blackheads occur when materials from our environment, like dirt, get inside them. In reality, outside debris isn’t what clogs pores.

“When we talk about a clogged pore, the medical term for that is a comedone. There are two types: open comedones and closed comedones,” said Dr. Suozzi. “Open comedones are commonly referred to as blackheads and that means the follicular ostium (the opening of the pore) has been blocked by debris. But that is not debris from outside and it does not mean your skin is dirty.”

In other words, those dark specks you see in your pores aren’t actually dirt. Dr. Suozzi explained the debris is actually the buildup of dead skin cells and sebum (oil) underneath the skin. Different factors such as hormones, genetics, and skin type can cause this to occur.

Read More: 10 skin-care trends you’re probably following but shouldn’t

MYTH: Every pore is a blackhead

Some of the dots on your nose are likely not blackheads. ThamKC/

Blackheads occur when dead skin cells block the opening of a pore and make it difficult for the oil being produced by the sebaceous glands to exit. This trapped oil causes the opening of the pore to dilate and bring the oil to the surface. Once that oil makes contact with the air, it oxidizes and gets that blackish color.

But not every squeezable pore on your face is a blackhead. “You can probably express some material from any prominent pore (if it’s squeezed), but that doesn’t mean that’s a blackhead,” said Dr. Suozzi. “You’re just expressing the normal sebaceous glands that’s there.”

MYTH: People with dry skin don’t have problems with blackheads or large pores

Generally, it seems like oily skin types and large pores go hand-in-hand. But this doesn’t mean people with dry skin can’t have noticeable pores, too. Pore size is determined by a variety of factors, like genetics or hormones. Plus, sun damage and aging can also cause anyone’s pores to appear larger over time, Dr. Suozzi told INSIDER.

Read More: 12 of the biggest skin-care mistakes you’re making in your 20s

MYTH: Wearing makeup is going to clog your pores

You might want to opt for non-comedogenic foundation if you have skin concerns.

Fortunately for makeup-wearers, not all beauty products will cause your skin to form comedones. Although makeup doesn’t exactly seep into individual follicles and clog pores, certain ingredients found in some cosmetics may irritate the skin in a way that can trigger the formation of a comedone, said Dr. Suozzi.

“Certain cosmetics will have a label that says comedogenic or non-comedogenic. Comedogenic means comedone-forming. Certain oils and compounds can be prone to exacerbating the formation of comedones,” she told INSIDER.

She added that opting to use makeup that’s labeled non-comedogenic may help you avoid potential breakouts.

“When you look at different sunscreens, moisturizers, or makeup products, they’ll specify if it’s not comedogenic, so you’ll know that putting it on your skin is not going to exacerbate the formation of comedones,” said Dr. Suozzi.

MYTH: Sunlight can help clear your pores

It’s possible this myth comes from thinking that heat from sun exposure would dry excess oil in your pores, causing them to shrink. But, in reality, prolonged sun exposure can actually cause your pore size to increase, said Dr. Suozzi.

This happens when sun rays damage collagen, which provides strength and structure to your skin and other parts of your body. As the collagen becomes weaker, your pores can appear wider on the surface.

You can protect your skin by wearing non-comedogenic sunscreen, but the best way to avoid permanent sun damage is to limit your exposure.

Read More: 8 things you think help your skin but can actually make it worse

MYTH: Washing your face several times a day will prevent clogged pores

As Dr. Suozzi. mentioned, whether or not you’re prone to developing comedones like blackheads depends on a variety of factors, such as your skin type and hormones. It isn’t greatly impacted by how often you wash your face.

Although washing your face helps to remove excess oil and dead skin cells that can contribute to breakouts, you should be careful not to overdo it. Dr. Suozzi said that over-washing your face (especially with harsh exfoliants) can irritate the surface of your skin and it can even cause redness or excessive dryness.

MYTH: Chemical exfoliators can entirely clean out your pores

Not all exfoliators are created equally.

The confusion here likely comes from the way certain skin products are marketed. Phrases like “deep clean” can make you think certain products are seeping into the skin and scrubbing all sorts of debris and buildup away, but this is not how chemical exfoliation, a process that removes dead skin cells with the use of chemicals, works.

” is not going in and washing out all the debris, but it is helping to unclog the dead skin cells there,” Dr. Suozzi told INSIDER.

Read More: Exfoliating your skin too often can cause serious damage — here’s how often you should actually be doing it

MYTH: Using suction tools and scrubbing tools is the most effective way to keep your pores clean

Head into the skin-care section of a beauty-supply store and you’ll likely see many scrubbers, brushes, and even suction tools that claim to aid the exfoliation process and clean out your pores. Although these devices may remove extra oil and debris from the surface of your skin, not all of them are great for cleaning out your pores.

In addition, Dr. Suozzi said she cautions against using these tools because they can irritate the surface of your skin. She told INSIDER, “Manual extraction (especially with at-home suction devices) can lead to the appearance of broken blood vessels.”

Instead, she recommends the aforementioned chemical exfoliants. Although they won’t entirely “clean out” your pores, they can typically help you get rid of dead-skin-cell buildup without causing physical damage to the outside appearance of your skin.

MYTH: You can shrink your pores at home with products like nose strips and face masks

Although pulling a nose strip from your face might feel satisfying, chances are it’s not doing much — or really anything — for your pore size. Remember, underneath every pore is a hair follicle. The size of these follicles are partially predetermined by genetics and they won’t be changed by a simple at-home product.

Although adhesive strips and masks can remove trapped oil and debris from inside of these follicles, all they really do is temporarily make your pores appear less prominent — the key word here is “appear.” They do not actually shrink the size of your pores.

So there’s not much you can do to make your pores shrink but it’s not impossible to do so. As Dr. Suozzi explained, there are certain laser treatments that can help promote collagen and shrink the appearance of one’s pores.

Getty Images

We pride ourselves on a twice-a-day facial cleansing and moisturizing routine, but even when you’re taking care of your skin, some issues get in the way. Namely, pores. Whether you’re struggling with larger pores or you’re trying to get rid of blackheads and clear up your skin, if you know certain things about how pores work, you’ll be able to attack them head on. Below are 10 things no one ever tells you about pores, so you can start having better skin now!

1. Pores enlarge when they become clogged. If you happen to be noticing your pores much more than in the past, they may be a bit enlarged due to clogging. To unclog your pores, be sure to wash your face twice daily to avoid oil and bacteria build up.

2. Warm water can help loosen up pores. Before you begin cleansing your face, use warm to hot (not scolding!) water to open up your pores so that you can really get everything out. If you need to take things one step further, soak a washcloth in hot water until it’s steamy, and place it over your face for about 30 seconds to steam your skin before cleansing.

MORE: 8 Tricks for Getting Rid of Clogged Pores

3. And cold water or ice can tighten things up. Your pores won’t shrink with cold water, but applying ice or cold water to your face for about 15 seconds after cleansing will help to tighten up pores and protect them from future oil clogging.

4. Look for products with charcoal and clay. With natural properties that work like a magnet to draw impurities out of your pores, charcoal and clay masks work to fully pull out any oil, dirt, or bacteria from your pores that may be causing issues.

5. Pores are actually hair follicles. The pores all over your body are tiny hair follicles, and each pore contains a sebaceous gland which produces oil, which is why pores can become clogged with oil so easily.

6. Pimples can stretch out pores. When pores become filled with oil and dirt, pimples can form and completely take over the pore, which is why some pores appear larger than others. They become stretched, and the faster a pimple can be remedied, the better chance you have at not stretching pores.

MORE: 10 Natural Remedies For Shrinking Your Pores

7. Exfoliating makes a big difference in the appearance of pores. Exfoliating with a fine scrub a few times a week will keep your pores clear of debris, which will in turn make them appear smaller. If nothing’s in your pores, they’ll be much less noticeable.

8. Oil blotting sheets will be your best friend. Throughout the day, keep excess oil and shine off of your face with oil blotting sheets. Not only will this keep the attention off of your pores, but you’ll also be doing the most you can to keep pores clear in the future.

9. Pore strips can help. Whether you opt for a nose, chin, or forehead strip, using pore strips to remove blackheads (and other build up) in pores can help reduce their appearance, but pore strips typically won’t remove the hair in a pore.

10. Some makeup products reduce the appearance of pores. Certain beauty balms and moisturizers are specifically designed to smooth out skin and fill in the appearance of pores for a flawless look.

Skin Pores

Although we’re not covered head to toe in a suit of fur, our skin is abundant with hair follicles, tiny shafts through which hair can grow and reach the skin.

“Follicles” and “pores” are sometimes used interchangeably, and other times referred to as two different things. In truth, the pore is simply the opening upon the skin of the hair follicle, which extends downward through several layers of skin.


If a hair follicle were a tall chimney, the pore would be the opening at the top of the chimney. Instead of emitting smoke, the follicle emits a shaft of hair. Skin cells are constantly dying inside the follicle. Additionally, small sebaceous glands located inside the follicle (picture a cul-de-sac located off to the side of an otherwise straight road) produce oil called sebum. Sebum is a mixture of fats, proteins, cholesterol and inorganic salts. It travels up the follicle and (in a perfect world) exits through the pore. It also carries those dead skin cells found within the follicle up to the skin’s surface.

What about sweat — doesn’t that come out of the same pores? No. Sweat is produced by separate sweat glands that also heavily populate your skin. While sweat emerges from the skin from a different source, it does affect your skin’s appearance. Once that sweat reaches the surface, it dries but leaves salts behind that can block your pores.

This mix of oil and dead skin cells helps coat your skin to protect it from bacteria, viruses, wind and rain (we sort of take our skin’s protective qualities for granted). Sometimes, though, the pore is occluded (blocked) and the materials trying to get out can’t, resulting in acne.

For more information about skin cells, read Skin Cells: Fast Facts.

If you have large pores, there’s some good news — but you may have to wait a few years to receive its benefits. As we age, our skin produces less oil, leading to dryness. This dryness, coupled with environmental damage to the skin, causes skin to age and wrinkle. Large pores produce more oil, and this comes in handy later in life when your skin needs it most. So while you may be bugged by the appearance and size of your skin pores today, you’re just getting an early start — and their existence will please you down the road.

Next: Maintaining clean, open pores.

Taste pore – Porus gustatorius


Taste budscontain the receptors for taste.

They are located around the small structures on the upper surface of the tongue, soft palate, upper esophagus, the cheek, epiglottis, which are called papillae.

These structures are involved in detecting the five elements of taste perception: salty, sour, bitter, sweet and umami; through the combination of these elements we detect “flavors.”

These tastes can be detected by any area of the tongue. Via small openings in the tongue epithelium, called taste pores, parts of the food dissolved in saliva come into contact with taste receptors. These are located on top of the taste receptor cells that constitute the taste buds. The taste receptor cells send information detected by clusters of various receptors and ion channels to the gustatory areas of the brain via the seventh, ninth and tenth cranial nerves.

On average, the human tongue has 2,000–8,000 taste buds.

This definition incorporates text from the wikipedia website – Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. (2004, July 22). FL: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved August 10, 2004, from http://www.wikipedia.org


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Putting Essential Oils On Your Feet Is The Secret To Getting Them To Work Better

I’m fully aware of the fact that I’m about to sound like an infomercial right now, so let’s get right to it, shall we? Just in case you haven’t been made aware yet, oils are the end-all-be-all of holistic beauty and wellness, and if you don’t believe me, take it from celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kelly Clarkson, and Jenna Dewan Tatum, who swear these vials really are, ahem, essential. Depending on what you use them for, there are all kinds of ways to apply the liquids to your body for optimal benefits, but using essential oils on your feet might actually be the most effective strategy.

Now, this might be a sensitive subject, seeing as how a lot of people (myself included) can get pretty skeeved out when it comes to feet, including their own, but the fact is, our soles are a sweet spot for essential oil absorption.

Of course, if you already have a gorgeous diffuser next to your office desk or on your bedside table, I am in no way advising you to toss it. I’m simply relying a helpful piece of information that could a) save you some hard-earned dollars if you haven’t splurged on one of these devices and b) offer you an alternative method if you’ve tried essential oils before but the experience was underwhelming. I promise you, essential oils are worth the hype; you just have to figure out the best way to utilize them.

Massaging essential oil into the bottoms of your feet is so effective because your soles are key absorption points.


According to The Alternative Daily, our feet are home to some of the largest pores on our body. It is because these openings are so large that essential oils are able to quickly pass through layers of skin and release their benefits into the body more efficiently that way than, say, if you were to apply them to your palms.

What’s more, the bottoms of our feet aren’t as sensitive as other parts of our bodies because they have to endure more on a daily basis. When you think about how much time you spend on your feet between standing around to chat with co-workers in passing, walking to class, to your car, running to catch a train, exercise, etc., it’s no wonder our soles are strong enough to take in undiluted oils as well.

The act of massaging the oils into your feet could be another reason why this method is so effective.


Who doesn’t love a deep foot massage after a long, trying day? Well, besides all of you who hate touching or having someone else touch your feet. I digress.

Giving your body a little extra TLC by applying pressure to areas like the feet, hands, and ears is referred to as reflexology, and is meant to relax the body and alleviate stress. This might be why during a yoga practice your instructor will have you massage your soles or palms. Add an essential oil like lavender or frankincense to the mix and you might be on to something deliciously soothing.

You see, massaging essential oils into the bottoms of your feet is more than a slippery rub down; it’s a gateway for the oil’s benefits to spread to other parts of your body as well. Mayo Clinic reports that studies sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health found that reflexology could “reduce pain and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and enhance relaxation and sleep,” due to the fact that every one of our nerve linings end in our footing. Interesting, right?

Rubbing essential oils on your feet can offer many benefits from helping you sleep better at night, to making your soles smell good.


My editor recently tested essential oils to help her sleep at night, and because she hadn’t received her diffuser just yet, she opted to rub a few drops into the bottoms of her feet. She described the experience as “the kind of sleep where your body almost feels paralyzed when you wake up the next morning.” It was the “most well rested” she’d felt in months. Coincidence? I think not. In fact, Trudy Collings of Paavani Ayurveda told Well + Good that she recommends applying essential oils like lavender, frankincense and Jatamansi to the bottoms of the feet “to keep you healthy.”

Of course, essential oils are also just fabulous for feet health in general (your soles need some loving too, you know!). Beverly Gray of Aroma Borealis wrote for Alive.com, sharing that essential oils like tea tree, chamomile, and eucalyptus are brilliant for treating ailments such as infections, inflammations, stank, sweat, and itchy feet.

Like I said, don’t ditch your diffuser, and keep applying peppermint oil to your temples to ease an unruly headache. But maybe before bed tonight, try rubbing a few drops of lavender over the soles of your feet and see how you feel come morning. The best part about holistic beauty treatments is testing them out to see if they work for you. If you’re not a foot person, no biggie, but you never know — this method could be great for your sole.

Did you know?

Healthy Skin

Skin Protects Us

The skin, along with hair and nails, is the protective covering of the body. In addition, the skin prevents germs from entering the body and damaging internal organs. Skin supports the life of all other body parts and plays a role in maintaining the immune system.

Skin also helps to regulate body temperature through the sweat glands. When the body becomes overheated, sweat glands give off moisture (perspiration), which cools the body as it evaporates. As the body part responsible for the sense of touch, the skin works with the nervous system to alert the body to potential dangers by detecting pressure, pain, heat, and cold.

When exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, the skin manufactures Vitamin D, an essential vitamin for healthy skin. Vitamin D promotes the body’s absorption of calcium, which is essential for the normal development of healthy teeth and bones.

Skin: The Body’s Largest Organ

Skin is the largest organ of the body. It consists of three layers of tissues: the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous layer. The epidermis is the paper-thin outer layer of the skin. The outer layer of the epidermis consists of dead cells that are always flaking or washing off. These are replaced by new cells manufactured in the lower portion of the epidermis, which move upward to the outside of the skin. As they do so, the cells harden and die. This cycle of cell production and replacement takes about 28 days.

The structure of skin

The epidermis also contains melanocytes, the cells that contain melanin — the pigment that gives skin its color. Skin color is determined by the amount of melanin in these cells, not cell number. The more melanin, the darker the skin.

The dermis, the middle layer of the skin, contains blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, sweat glands and oil glands. It makes up about 90 percent of the skin’s thickness and is made up of collagen and elastic fibers that give the skin strength and elasticity.

The subcutaneous layer, the deepest layer of skin, is mostly composed of fatty tissue. It also contains blood vessels and nerves. The fat insulates the body from extreme heat and cold and provides a cushion to protect the body from injuries.

Hair & Nails Protect Us, Too

Hair and nails also protect the body. Hair keeps the head warm, while eyebrows and eyelashes protect the eyes from direct light. Hair also serves as a barrier to keep dirt from entering the eyes and nose. It is made up of keratin, a type of non-living protein made by living skin cells. Hair grows out from hair follicles.

Nails are protective structures made of hard keratin, a type of non-living protein made by living skin cells. Their job is to protect the sensitive area of the toes and fingers and to give the fingers and hands a grasping function. Nail cells form at the base of the nail in an area called the nail matrix (the lighter “half moon” on our fingernails).

The Importance of Making Healthy Choices

Your skin reveals to the world how healthy you are – and how old you are. Positive lifestyle behaviors keep you healthy and your skin looking younger. The following lifestyle behaviors can impact the skin:

Body Piercing
Hair Products
Nails & Manicures
Nutrition & Water
Seeing Your Dermatologist
Sun Safety & Indoor Tanning


Drinking alcohol enlarges a person’s blood vessels, which can temporarily redden or flush the cheeks. When blood vessels are severely damaged by chronic drinking, the palms and soles also become reddened.

Chronic drinkers develop larger oil glands and blood vessels. This process results in the enlargement of the skin’s pores, particularly of the nose and chin. Chronic drinking can cause liver disease, including cirrhosis, which changes the skin color to yellow.

Body Piercing

Much of the same advice about tattooing applies to body piercing. Infection is possible if the piercer does not follow proper health procedures, such as washing hands, wearing gloves, disinfecting surfaces, and using a new sterile needle. Infection is also possible if the individual does not care for the hole properly. About 15% of the population is allergic to nickel, a material common in body jewelry. These people may experience rashes as a result of exposure to the metal.

Depending on where jewelry is placed, body piercings can cause problems with speech, eating, hearing and other body functions. For example, body jewelry can be torn out during contact sports. Dentists are particularly concerned about the dangers of tongue piercings. Among the things that can go wrong as a result of tongue piercings are swelling of the tongue that can interfere with breathing, cracked teeth, choking on loosened or unscrewed jewelry, and infection with hepatitis, HIV or bacteria.


Exercise contributes to weight maintenance, which helps maintain the smooth appearance of the skin. However, some forms of exercise can also damage the skin. For example, weightlifting to increase muscle size can produce “stretch marks” because of breaks within the connective tissue of the dermis. When a person loses weight too rapidly, his or her existing stretch marks will grow.

Exercise also increases sweating and skin temperature. Infections caused by bacteria and/or fungi may occur if proper hygiene is not performed after exercise. In addition, some clothes and shoes used while exercising can lead to blisters on the hands, feet or body.

Hair Products

Some hair dyes can cause allergic reactions. Be sure to test the dye on a small area of your skin (behind the ear or inside the elbow) and wait 48-72 hours before making a change in your hair color with these products.

Permanent waves can damage the hair, so take care not to perm your hair more often than every three months. If the perming solution is left on too long, is too strong or is applied to hair already damaged by dyes, the hair could break and the scalp could become irritated. Frequent tight braiding or tight ponytails, as well as hair straightening agents, flat irons, curling irons, and hot rollers, can also cause hair loss or broken hair.


Hygiene impacts the health of the skin. A basic hygiene routine includes washing the face in the morning and before bed with soap/cleanser, warm water and a clean wash cloth, taking a shower or bath daily using warm water, soap and a clean wash cloth, cleaning nails, and washing hair regularly (e.g., every 2-3 days).

Nails & Manicures

If you manicure your own nails, be careful not to cut, remove or injure nail cuticles. Their job is to prevent infection and protect nail-forming cells.

Nail polish and nail glue can cause allergic reactions. Use a polish that is labeled “hypoallergenic” and nail polish remover that is acetone-free.

Sculptured nails – those that are custom-made to fit permanently over your natural nails – can cause severe and painful reactions. Doctors recommend that people who wear artificial nails take them off every three months to allow their natural nails to breathe.

Nutrition & Water

Eating a well-balanced diet helps insure that your body gets all the vitamins it needs to maintain healthy skin. The following nutrients help the life of your skin:

  • Vitamin A – Helps maintain healthy, smooth skin and hair
  • Riboflavin (B1) – Helps prevent skin disorders, especially around the nose, lips and mouth
  • Niacin (B3) – Helps prevent skin disorders, especially on parts of the body exposed to the sun
  • Vitamin B6 – Helps prevent skin disorders and cracks around the mouth
  • Vitamin C – Helps in healing of skin
  • Vitamin D – Helps keep skin healthy. (This “sunshine vitamin” is also manufactured by the skin with the help of sunlight.)
  • Water is the most important nutrient we consume. The human body is anywhere from 55 to 75 percent water. Without water, we could not survive. It is recommended that people drink 8 glasses of water a day.


Through the skin’s process of sweating, the water we drink helps to cool our bodies in warm weather. When the body gets too warm, water seeps out through the sweat pores of the skin. Sweat evaporates from our skin using heat from the body to turn the liquid into vapor. It is harder for the sweat to evaporate quickly on a humid day, which is why we feel warmer than we do on a dry day at the same temperature.


Smokers have more wrinkles around their eyes and mouths, especially since they’re continually tightening their lips around cigarettes. Tobacco and cigarettes can cause the skin to turn an unhealthy, unnatural color.

Smoking and chewing tobacco can also hurt the skin through the development of lip cancer, mouth cancer and/or emphysema. When emphysema in the lungs causes shortness of breath, the skin may turn bluer due to lack of oxygen.


Stress plays a role in skin care, especially because many habits associated with stress hurt the skin. For example, lip biting can tear and damage skin. Rubbing and scratching the skin can cause a skin condition called dermatitis. Picking at the cuticle skin around your nails can also produce infection. Additionally, if you shower with very hot water to relieve stress, your skin may become dry and itchy. Stress can also play a role in the development of various skin ailments.

Sun Safety & Indoor Tanning

Limiting your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation while protecting your skin is the single most important thing you can do to maintain healthy skin.


Tattooing has been performed as a decorative art form since ancient times. Today, it is growing in popularity and is also being used as a form of permanent make-up.

Tattooing involves injecting dyes into the skin with multiple injections from one or more needles. It can take several hours to complete a tattoo and the procedure may be painful. It may also cause some bleeding. It takes about 7 to 10 days for the tattoo to heal.

Tattooing received a bad reputation in the past due to tattoo artists who neglected health and safety concerns. This resulted in outbreaks of infectious diseases and banning of the practice in some states and localities.

The two biggest risks in getting a tattoo are allergic responses to the dyes and exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The dyes are made from chemical compounds ranging from metal oxides to synthetic organic dyes. The most common infectious diseases associated with tattoos are atypical mycobacteria and hepatitis B, although hepatitis C and HIV are also possible. Proper disinfection and sterilization procedures must be followed. Someone thinking of getting a tattoo should check with the state or local health department to see which regulations exist in the area, such as a requirement that only new sterile needles be used. Also, check to see if the tattooist has been certified by the Alliance for Professional Tattooists.

Dermatologists report that over 50% of the people who get tattoos eventually seek to have them removed, usually after they have entered the work world. Although tattoos can be removed, the process is very expensive and painful. It may take several months and could result in scarring.

Seeing Your Dermatologist

We’ve seen that our skin is our body’s largest organ. Our skin works 24/7 to take care of us, protect us, and keep us healthy. And we have a responsibility to take care of our skin. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to schedule regular visits with a medical skin care expert – your local dermatologist. Your dermatologist has the training and expertise to help keep your skin healthy throughout your life.

To find a dermatologist in your area, please visit American Academy of Dermatology’s “Find a Dermatologist”.

For every hair on your body, there is a corresponding skin pore. Although we can’t see all of these pores, we can see some of them. The same holds true with hair; while we share the same number of hairs with apes, human hairs are much less coarse, and most are so wispy they can’t easily be seen.

The average adult has around 5 million hairs on his or her body, so if you think you have large pores and feel low about it, take heart in the fact that 4.9 million or so of your pores are nice and tiny and that only a proportionately small number of them are causing you grief.


Maintaining clean, healthy skin pores is important for maintaining healthy (and healthy looking) skin. Dirt and oil on your face collect around your pores like leaves and debris collect around a storm drain. When those pores get clogged, it creates a pile-up of oil and dead skin cells in the follicle. Soon, bacteria make their way to the blockage, and the growth in bacteria causes inflammation.

Now, someone on the other side of the blockage is ham-fistedly squeezing, poking and rubbing the blocked pore, which doesn’t help matters one bit. It only adds more hand oils, dirt and unwelcome physical pressure — all the things a zit needs to make it in this world. Worse, you may just make those pores stretch out more.

The bad news is that you can’t do anything to permanently shrink large skin pores. The good news is that there are ways you can make them look smaller.

To learn everything you need to know about skin pores, quit touching your face and keep reading.

I can not seem to find good answers for these questions on the internet or books from the library. I cannot find any references to the subject that is supported by actual scientific research or even scientific knowledge.
My specific questions are about the molecules in essential oils,
Are essential oil molecules small enough by molecular weight or mass to pass through the skin and enter the bloodstream? I have read that most essential oils molecular weight or mass is less that 500 daltons?
One article I read said that 500 daltons was the number for a molecule to pass through the lipid matrix of the dead cells on the surface of the skin. Another says 700 daltons. To me this is a big difference since most essential oils have a molecular mass of 500 and some carrier oils used like coconut and jojoba oils are between 500 and 700. Are either really absorbed into the layers of the skin and ultimately picked up into the bloodstream?
And even if the are absorbed do they pass into the blood stream through the capillary ends in dermis layer (is that where they are?)?
What happens when you mix essential oils with heavier molecular weight molecules in cold pressed vegetable and nut oils?
Do they adhere to the fat molecules and then become to heavy to be absorbed by the skin and thus never enter the blood stream?
Do essential oils molecules seek out and attach themselves to fat molecules? Then they would be stuck in that lipid layer of dead cells in the skin with all the fat content. Is that even a correct assumption?
There is so much conflicting information in aromatherapy that seems to never be backed up by simple biology and chemistry of the body. It is widely taught in aromatherapy classes and books that the pores on the feet are larger than any other part of your body and that when you put essential oils on the soles of your feet you are able to get to the bloodstream the fastest (second only to inhalation). I just don’t see the Biological or Chemical proof for this theory. It is often stated as fact. I only see from basic anatomy that the sole of the foot has five layers of skin no hair and the largest amount of sweat pores so yeah if you want the essential oils in your sweat glands? I just can’t find any medical or biochemistry knowledge to support this theory.
I hope someone who has a better knowledge of the skin absorption and molecules can help me understand if these aromatherapy claims are true or not. Medicine is delivered in skin patches so seems if the molecules are small enough in essential oils it would work but I have never heard of putting a nicotine patch on the sole of your foot for quick absorption!

Skin is more than a fleshy surface for pimples, tattoos and wrinkles. Skin is the body’s largest organ, and along with hair, nails, glands and nerves, is part of the integumentary system, according to Oregon State University. This system acts as a protective barrier between the outside and the inside of the body.

In adults, skin accounts for about 16 percent of total body weight and covers a surface area of approximately 22 square feet (2 square meters).

There are different thicknesses and textures of skin on different parts of the body. For example, skin is paper-thin underneath the eyes, but is thick on the soles of the feet and palms of the hand, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.

Three layers of tissue

Human skin is composed of three layers of tissue: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


The epidermis is the top, visible layer of skin and it’s constantly being renewed as dead skin cells are shed on a daily basis. The main functions of the epidermis include:

  • Making new skin cells. New skin cells form at the bottom of the epidermis. As these newer cells form, it takes them about one month to reach the top layer of the epidermis. The new cells will replace the old cells found on the skin surface, which are dead and continuously flake off.
  • Giving skin its color. The epidermis contains melanocytes, which are cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin is also responsible for suntans and freckles.
  • Protecting skin. Keratin, a protein made by cells found in the epidermis, gives skin its toughness and strength, and protects skin from drying out.


The dermis is the middle layer of skin, found underneath the epidermis. It is the thickest layer of skin and contains nerves and blood vessels. It is also home to the sweat glands, oil glands and hair follicles. The dermis gives skin its flexibility and strength, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. It is made up mostly of a protein called collagen that makes skin stretchy and strong.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the roles of the dermis include:

  • Sensing pain and touch. Nerve endings in the dermis contain receptors that transmit sensations, such as pain, pressure, touch, itchiness and temperature to the brain.
  • Producing sweat and oils. Sweat glands help to cool the body, and sebaceous glands make the oils that keep skin soft and moist.
  • Growing hair. Hair follicles found in the dermis grow the hair on your head, face and body. That hair also helps to control body temperature and protect the body from injury.
  • Bringing blood to the skin. Blood vessels found in the dermis nourish the skin and help control body temperature. When skin becomes too hot, blood vessels enlarge to release heat from the skin’s surface, while cold constricts blood vessels so they retain body heat.
  • Fighting infection. Lymphatic vessels, which drain fluid from the tissues and are an important part of the immune system, are housed in the dermis. They help ward off infections and other harmful substances.


The hypodermis — also called subcutaneous fat — is the deepest layer of skin. This layer is made up mostly of fatty tissue, which helps to insulate the body from heat and cold. The hypodermis also serves as an energy storage area for fat. This fat provides padding to cushion internal organs as well as muscle and bones, and protects the body from injuries, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.

Common skin conditions

Dermatologists are physicians who specialize in treating diseases, disorders and injuries of the skin, hair and nails. They treat common conditions such as acne and warts; chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis; and more serious diseases like skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Warts and moles

Warts are benign (noncancerous) growths on the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), according to the AAD. They often occur on the hands and soles. Sometimes, tiny black dots will be visible in a wart.

“These are blocked blood vessels, which are a common occurrence with a papilloma viral infection,” said Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and medical director of Crutchfield Dermatology.

The best treatment for warts is to cause a mild irritation of these skin growths — usually by freezing them, applying a chemical such as salicylic acid or using lasers — so the immune system can recognize the viral infection and get rid of it.

Moles are another type of common growth on the skin. They’re most often brown or black, but some can be red or skin-colored, and they may appear flat or raised. If a mole starts changing in size, color or shape, or if it bleeds and doesn’t heal on its own in three weeks, it should be evaluated to make sure it’s not turning into skin cancer, Crutchfield said.

Acne and eczema

Acne, a disorder of the hair and oil glands, is among the most common skin conditions treated by dermatologists, Crutchfield told Live Science.

Acne occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition presents itself as red bumps and pimples on the face, chest and back, Crutchfield said. Treatments for acne include vitamin A products (retinols prevent plugging of hair follicles), salicylic acid (to unplug pores), benzoyl peroxides (to decrease bacteria) and antibiotics (to reduce inflammation).

Eczema looks like patches of red, itchy, bumpy skin, and the most common type is known as atopic dermatitis. The condition can occur anywhere on the skin. Sometimes, it flares up on its own, and at other times, it is caused by a specific trigger, such as a skin irritant like poison ivy, or exposure to an allergen, according to Crutchfield.

Eczema is best treated with topical anti-inflammatory creams and ointments, which can reduce itching and redness. For mild symptoms, over-the-counter medications work well, but a prescription-strength cortisone product may be needed for more severe cases.

Skin cancer

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells, and the most common type is basal cell carcinoma, Crutchfield said. More than 4 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. This type of cancer is skin colored, pink or has a slight pearly white color to it, and usually appears on sun-exposed areas of the face, ears or neck, according to the Mayo Clinic. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body, but it can be very problematic if it’s not treated, Crutchfield cautioned.

The second most common type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. It may appear as a pink or white bump, a rough, scaly patch or a sore that won’t heal, according to the AAD.

The most serious skin cancer is melanoma, which looks like a dark, changing, bleeding skin spot, Crutchfield said. This cancer begins in the skin’s pigment-producing cells, and although it is the rarest form of skin cancer, it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

Additional resources:

  • National Library of Medicine: How Does Skin Work?
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine: Anatomy of the Skin
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protecting yourself from skin cancer

This article was updated on Oct. 22, 2018 by Live Science Contributor, Cari Nierenberg.

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