Pore Strips and Blackhead Vacuums: Yay or Nay?

The right (and wrong) way to purge your pores

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Curology Team
Jun 15, 2018 · 3 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Purge those pores

It may be gross, but we totally get it: that sick satisfaction of peeling off a pore strip. Ew, but awesome. In theory, extracting blackheads this way is safer for your skin than using your fingers or other DIY methods — but is it really good for you?

The thing about pore strips is, like any form of physical exfoliation, they can irritate your skin. Especially if your skin is sensitive — or if you’re using certain topical products, such as retinol, that can make your skin more sensitive. If you aren’t careful, peeling off that pore strip could result in redness and irritation.

How to use pore strips without irritating your skin

  1. Give your skin a break from topical products such as retinol for a day or two before using a pore strip.

  2. Don’t use really hot water to “steam pores open”. That’s not really how it works — pores don’t open and close! Even though the pores look “open,” it’s really just that the surface dead skin cells have been sloughed away, and the cells around the pores swell, making the pores appear smaller. But that isn’t necessarily a good thing! Using hot water or steam will burn or irritate your skin. Washing your face with comfortably warm water and a gentle cleanser before applying the pore strip should do the trick.

  3. Don’t use pore strips more often than directed: once every 3 days, max.

Blackheads suck

What about those pore vacuums? Newer to the market, the blackhead-removing tool is one of those Korean skincare trends that has crossed over to North America. You may have seen an ad on social media with a disgusting (but oh-so-tempting!) video of pore gunk being suctioned out in seconds. The video makes it look legit, but does it really work?

Don’t get your hopes up, our skincare professionals say. If the suction is intense, you’re likely to end up bruised, your skin irritated — without very good blackhead-clearing results.

Our advice, if you must try one? Go to a professional, such as an esthetician. Any at-home device you can buy won’t work as well as a professional tool in professional hands. Plus, a pro will know how to do it right so you don’t end up with hickeys all over your face!

Back in black(heads)

The thing about either of these pore-unclogging tricks is that they’re only temporary. To help keep your pores blackhead-free, you need a regular skincare regimen like Curology, which is designed to improve your skin’s cell turnover, reduce bacteria and inflammation, and the other myriad factors that contribute to acne. We hate to sound like a broken record — but you really should trust the experts! We promise we won’t bite.

For more tips, tricks, and need-to-know info, check out our Guides and our Blog. Also, Curology members: talk to your provider to find out how your own personalized formula can help unclog your pores and prevent blackheads!

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