Pore Strips For Blackheads: Do They Really Work?

Written by Monomita Chakraborty

Pore strips are commonly used to remove blackheads, dirt, and debris from the skin pores and improve their appearance. The adhesive in these strips helps clear dead skin cells and make your skin smoother. You might have used pore strips for your nose, chin, and forehead – the common spots for blackheads. But are they doing more harm than good? Keep reading to find out the answer and learn everything about pore strips.

How Do Pore Strips Work?

According to Cassandra Bankson, skin care expert and medical aesthetician, “Pore strips are usually made of adhesive applied to the skin, generally on the nose where pores are largest. These strips occasionally contain ingredients, such a salicylic acid to help with blemishes and blackheads. These strips adhere to the sebaceous filaments and blackheads inside the pores, and pull them out, along with top layers of the dead keratin cells called corneocytes. In other words, pore strips exfoliate and extract.”

However, pore strips do not diminish the size of pores or prevent blackheads from forming. Here is a guide for using them properly.

How To Use Pore Strip For Blackheads

Step 1: Wash Your Face

Wash your skin well with a face cleanser to clean the grime and grease off your face.

Step 2: Steam

Steam your face for around 3 minutes, or use a hot towel for 5 minutes to loosen the sebum, dirt, and debris inside the pores.

Step 3: Apply The Strip

Before using the pore strips, read the instructions and guidelines. Remove the plastic cover and place the smooth side on your nose. Gently press it to ensure proper application. Simultaneously, apply the strips to your chin, forehead, and other places prone to blackheads.

Step 4: Let The Strip Dry For Few Minutes Until It Feels Stiff

Wait for 15-20 minutes until the strip feels stiff. This ensures the strip attaches to the skin properly and pulls out as much gunk as possible.

Step 5: Peel The Strip Off

Start removing the strip from the edges slowly and carefully. Do not pull or rip it off as it may damage the skin. You can wet the strip before removing it. The blackheads should be visible on the pore strip once you remove it.

Step 6: Wash Your Face

Rinse your face with water to remove any remaining adhesive residue. You can also apply an ice cube wrapped in a cloth to reduce redness and swelling (if any). Finish off with a toner. However, you are not done yet. Aftercare is equally important to ensure clear and smooth skin.

Aftercare

Cassandra Bankson says, “Make sure you are protecting the skin! Use a serum containing salicylic acid to prevent the reappearance of blackheads and acne. It also prevents the pores from filling up with more sebum or oil.” She adds, “You must use sunscreen. Pore strips are exfoliating. Protect your nose with sunscreen as this is a common area that skin cancer can form, and remember that exfoliation should always be followed up with protection.”

Although pore strips are widely used for blackheads, dermatologists usually do not recommend using them. Keep reading to find out why.

Do Dermatologists Recommend Pore Strips?

No. Dermatologists usually do not recommend pore strips. It is because they can rip the skin, causing irritation and injuries. Pore strips also do not prevent or effectively treat a condition. Instead, they are a quick fix to clear gunk from deep within a pore.

That is why most dermatologists recommend using salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, as it tackles the present problem and prevents future blackheads. However, if you are in a hurry or looking for a quick solution, you can use pore strips. Here are a few things to keep in mind while buying them.

How To Buy The Best Pore Strips

When buying pore strips, ensure that you:

  • Check the ingredients and avoid chemicals like parabens, alcohol, and phthalates. Also, keep an eye out for potential allergens like essential oils and fragrances.
  • Get a pack that includes chin and forehead strips if you wish to utilize them on other parts of your face.
    Also,
  • Never use pore strips on inflamed or damaged skin.
  • Seek advice from a dermatologist if you are unsure where to begin. They might be able to recommend a product depending on your specific skin concerns.

Cassandra Bankson states, “People with sensitive skin should avoid pore strips altogether. People with oily and acne-prone skin should look for pore strips with BHA to help with excess oil production. Those with dry skin should be careful with pore strips and follow up with moisturizers. Always go for a pore strip with soothing and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid.”

Caution: Avoid pore strips if you have existing skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. Pore strips can further aggravate the conditions.

While the strips are satisfying to use, there are better alternatives to reduce the appearance of pores and eliminate blackheads. Check them out.

Other Ways To Remove Blackheads

1. Exfoliation

Exfoliating the skin eliminates dead skin cells and clears clogged pores. You can use a cloth or a soft brush to exfoliate your skin with your regular cleanser. You may also use a face scrub. Exfoliate your skin once or twice a week or less frequently if your skin is sensitive.

2. Use Clay Mask

Clay masks can also help to remove dirt and grime from the pores. Look for a product that contains activated charcoal for better results. If you have sensitive skin, always follow up with a moisturizer.

3. Apply Retinol

Retinol is an effective acne-fighting agent (1). It aids in cellular proliferation, allowing dead skin cells to be pushed out of your pores and off your face. It may irritate the skin initially, so start with the lowest percentage of retinol. Also, apply it at night as it can also make your skin more susceptible to the sun.

You may also consider these professional treatments for acne and blackheads:

1. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a non-surgical facial resurfacing method widely utilized in the beauty industry. This procedure removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells to improve the appearance of pores, reduce excess sebum, and prevent blackheads and whiteheads (2).

2. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels for acne are keratolytic and can exfoliate the skin to remove dead cells and debris and prevent acne and blackheads (3). They also reduce the probability of future breakouts.

3. Laser and Light Therapy

This treatment uses concentrated lasers to target and eliminate acne, whiteheads, blackheads, and nodules. The lasers can kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation, and control excess sebum production to minimize breakouts (4).

The Takeaway

Pore strips are commonly used to extract blackheads and clear dirt and grime from the skin pores. While they are easy to use and give quick results, use them with caution. Excessive and improper use of pore strips increases the chances of skin damage and bruises. Moreover, they are harsh on sensitive skin. You can use salicylic acid to eliminate blackheads safely. However, if you ever decide to use pore strips, always follow the instructions for application and proper removal to prevent skin damage.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What happens when you leave pore strips on for too long?

Pore strips are tough to remove if left on the skin for too long. It may peel the skin and damage it.

How often can you use pore strips?

Use pore strips not more than once or twice a week.

Do pore strips make your pores bigger?

No. Pore strips do not affect the pore size.

Why are pore strips not working for me?

If you have sebaceous filaments instead of blackheads, pore strips may not be effective. Strips can’t hold them because they are sebaceous strings.

4 Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Topical retinoids in acne an evidence-based overview
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18479477/
  2. Microdermabrasion: an evidence-based review
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20048628/
  3. Chemical peels in active acne and acne scars
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28274356/
  4. Light-based therapies in acne treatment
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4439741/
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