Do Pore Strips Actually Remove Blackheads?

April 22, 2021
Jessica Harrington
By: Jessica Harrington | by L'Oréal
Do Pore Strips Actually Remove Blackheads?

Most people are fascinated by their pores — expelling debris from them, making them appear smaller — all in an effort to achieve a smooth, imperfection-free complexion. Case in point: pore strips. These tiny adhesive strips are applied to your nose to work their magic and visibly pull dirt and oil from your pores when removed. There’s something so much more satisfying about them as compared to detoxing mask treatments, but there’s some conflicting reports out there that claim they might be doing more harm than good. So, what’s the deal with using pore strips? Do they actually work to clear your pores and bust blackheads and, most importantly, how do they affect your skin? Keep reading to find out.

How Do Pore Strips Work?

Pore strips seem pretty self-explanatory. Each strip is coated with an adhesive that bonds to skin. To apply, you typically wet your nose, place on the strip, wait 10 to 15 minutes and then slowly peel it off. What’s stuck to the strip is a combination of sebum and dirt extracted from your comedones or blackheads. “Blackheads happen when oil in the pores of the skin is exposed to air and oxidized, resulting in a black appearance,” says Dr. Purvisha Patel, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare

It’s important to keep in mind that different people will see different results when it comes to using pore strips for blackhead removal. “If the adhesive truly grabs the oil and pulls it out, voilá — the blackhead is taken out,” says Dr. Patel. “But the ability of the strip to adhere and clear the pores is a variable factor.”

The main catch (because there always is one) is to not overdo it. Pore strips are a form of exfoliation — they remove dead skin cells and debris from your skin’s surface — and like all exfoliation products, you need to use them in moderation. By over-exfoliating and over-using pore strips, you run the risk of dehydrating your skin, which can cause your sebaceous glands to overcompensate by producing excess oil. 

Other Ways to Minimize Pores and Remove Blackheads 

As much as the adhesive strips are fun (and extremely satisfying) to use, there are better ways to minimize the appearance of pores and address blackheads, as pore strips don’t offer any long-term benefits. Instead, Dr. Patel advises putting a focus on your cleansing routine to see better results than ever possible with a pore strip. 

That is to say, preventing blackheads in the first place is far more effective than trying to remove them after the fact. “After all, if blackheads aren’t kept away, they’ll need to be removed over and over again,” says Dr. Craig Kraffert, a board-certified dermatologist and president of Amarte Skin Care

When searching for a cleanser that will help prevent blackheads from forming, look for ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These acne-fighting ingredients unclog pores and help to chemically exfoliate the skin to keep dirt and dead surface skin cells from building up in the first place. 

We like the SkinCeuticals Clarifying Cleanser, Visha Skincare Advanced Purifying Cleanser and CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser.

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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