There’s something so grossly satisfying about using a pore strip. Looking at all the gunk from your skin almost feels therapeutic. It’s why people can’t get enough of viral pore strip removal videos and photos. But, what is the pore strip actually doing (besides providing #content gold)? We asked board certified dermatologists Dr. Purvisha Patel, Dr. Craig Kraffert, and Dr. Jame Heskett for the rundown on everything strip related. Do they actually work? Will they fix our blackhead issues for good? They break it down, ahead.
What is a pore strip?
Pore strips are strips of material with an adhesive on one side to adhere to and pull out open comedones, aka blackheads. Blackheads happen when oil in the pores of the skin is exposed to air and oxidised, resulting in a darkened appearance.
How do pore strips work?
The adhesive truly grabs the oil and pulls it out, voilá—the blackhead is taken out. “The ability of the strip to adhere and clear the pores is a variable factor, and pore strips may not work for everyone, especially those that may have adhesive allergies,” explains Dr. Patel.
Can a pore strip cause more bad than good?
If you have sensitive skin, you should avoid pore strips. They can cause more harm than good. One common myth is that pore strips can break capillaries—it is not true. However, they can tear or injure the skin. When it comes to pulling things off your skin, proceed with caution.
Can pore strips fix blackhead problems?
They can’t fix blackhead problems permanently but they will help give you the appearance of smoother skin. Preventing blackheads after removal is, perhaps, more important than physically removing them. After all, if blackheads aren’t kept away, they’ll need to be removed over and over again.
Do you recommend any pore strips?
“Hands down for overall pore detoxification, the HydroPeptide Bambusa Blackhead Banisher it the most advanced pore cleansing and pore refining nose strip with added dskin soothing ingredients,” says Dr. Heskett. “They use a special formulation of charcoal, antibacterial volcanic ash, and antioxidant-rich bamboo extract to gently and effectively decrease congestion and reduce the look of pores around the nose and nourishing ingredients such as aloe, sacred lotus flower and allantoin to soothe sensitivity and redness.”
How often should you use pore strips?
“While repetitive grooming behaviours can be quite enjoyable when we think about fun things such as a hair trim and highlight session at the hair salon, blackhead extractions are typically less than fun and definitely better off avoided,” says Dr. Kraffert. It’s best to start with once a week and create a plan with your dermatologist. “They are a good tool for occasional use, but if you are finding that you are needing to use on a daily basis then probably your skin care regimen and your environment needs to be addressed,” adds Dr. Heskett.
How can you make pore strips more effective?
Dr. Heskett recommends using a little glycolic acid prior to the process to soften any more tough superficial skin cells trapping the oxidised sebum in the pores to make them more accessible to the resin and come out more easily.
What alternatives should you look for?
Use benzoyl peroxide and, to a lesser extent, AHAs. “These ingredients work best when they are part of a pleasant regimen that is fun and easy to use, as strict ongoing compliance with an anti-blackhead regimen is essential and, people being people, if it isn’t fun, it might not get done,” explains Dr. Kraffert.
This article first appeared on ELLE.