Why Pore Strips Don’t Cut It—and How to Really Banish Blackheads for Good

June 28th, 2016

There’s something utterly satisfying about using pore strips—peeling it off to reveal all the tiny blackheads and sebaceous filaments that have just been extracted from your nose. The payoff is too good (even if it is a little gross).

But do they really work?

In short, no. To fully understand why, it’s helpful to know a little bit more about blackheads. These little black dots crop up (particularly on the nose) due to a buildup of excess sebum, the natural oil produced by the skin, in the pores. When pores get clogged, sebum breaches the skin’s surface and then oxidizes and turns dark, leaving them visibly enlarged.

It’s tempting to reach for one of those infamous strips to solve the issue. Why not? Seeing blackhead remnants stuck to it post-extraction is one of life’s simple pleasures—and also cold, hard proof it worked, right? Not quite. It’s a short-term solution, at best. According to the experts at Beautypedia, you may have successfully removed the top layer of blackheads, but the root of the problem—the excess oil—remains, and they’ll probably just recur.

Repeatedly using strips may even rob the skin of natural oils and lead to dryness, which can ultimately exacerbate breakouts. To help them adhere to skin, these products are typically coated with polyquaternium-37—a film-forming agent that’s also used in hairsprays, which could penetrate the pores and cause irritation.

To spot treat blackheads you can try an extraction tool. (Follow the instructions on the package.)

But the best way to actually get rid of them is to regularly deep-clean the pores. A bentonite clay mask is one of the most powerful weapons to get the job done. Try this regimen once a week (or every other week if you have dry skin):

  1. Steam: Open up your pores with steam. All you need to do is boil some water then transfer it to a ceramic or glass bowl. Drape a towel over your head and hold your face about six to eight inches above the steaming water. Do this for 10 minutes.
  2. Mask: Mix equal parts (about 1 to 2 tablespoons each) bentonite clay powder and apple cider vinegar. Apply to oily areas (or all over the face) and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes until it dries. Rinse off with cold water and a gentle washcloth.
  3. Moisturize: Hydrate with a replenishing, skin-balancing oil like rosehip seed.

Effective skin care is a long game. Rather than acting on an impulse and expecting instant results, have some patience and treat your skin right. You’ll beat those blackheads in the end.

Photo credit: Alicia Cho

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This article is related to: Beauty Secrets, Beauty Tips, Skin Care, Tips

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Dana PobleteDana's love for all creatures under the sun (bugs, too) drives her in her advocacy for ethical eating, environmental sustainability, and cruelty-free living. A natural born islander, she surfs when she can, and writes, always.

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