Most of us have tried them. We’ve applied the papery strips to our nose, flipped through a magazine, or caught up on some Netflix while it dried, then peeled them off and closely examined the sebaceous cactus before us. But while pore strips may be satisfying as hell, they are unnecessary and doing your skin more harm than good.
Aside from the fact that you are likely not ogling an actual blackhead forest when you tear off your pore strip, what you see before you is actually better off left in your pores. Most of those little prickles you’re seeing on your strip are the natural oils your skin produces to keep itself moisturized. Stripping all of it off at once is just sending a signal to your body that it hasn’t produced enough oil. Excessive oil ends up being produced, leading to more breakouts than you were originally dealing with.
Carly Walter, esthetician at Spa in the Valley and owner of Baltimore Beauties Makeup and Microblading, wants you to think of your pores “like tiny tubes of toothpaste.”
“When your pores are clogged, it means that they are full of natural oils, waxes, skin cells, and even hair.” Walter says that a pore strip “only stick[s] to the surface of the clog, removing just the tip, and leaving behind the rest of the clog that will normally erupt into a breakout soon after.”
The supposed benefits of using pore strips might tempt you, like your skin feeling smoother, but that is only because the strip is pulling the oil and dead skin from the surface, much like a piece of duct tape would. Be aware that you could be doing real damage to the skin on and around your nose.
“Even if you pull the strip off gently, you are still tugging and potentially stretching your skin, which is a big anti-aging no-no,” Walter warns. All this without doing anything to actually treat the cause of blackheads. She also cautions that skin can be left red, flaky, inflamed, and even with broken capillaries where the skin is thinner. The corners of your nose and the skin below your eyes are prime spots for this to occur.
In lieu of pore strips, exfoliating is your best shot at preventing and treating blackheads. But while we are on the subject of shit to step away from, do not immediately reach for that harsh peach scrub by The Brand Who Shall Not Be Named.
Unless you’re reaching to throw it in the garbage.
When using a mechanical exfoliant (scrub), you want to use something gentle, and smaller is better when it comes to the granules doing the scrubbing. A chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid is my personal favorite. Chemical exfoliants do not come with the risks of creating micro-tears in your skin, prime real estate for bacteria to collect and breakouts to occur. You don’t get to scratch your skin and may have to get over that “freshly scrubbed” burn, but it’s for the best. Trust me, please.
Ditching most anything that involves ripping, tearing, or pulling your skin is going to result in happier faces in the long run. Do your dermis a favor and get those adhesive pain strips out of your skin care regime, stat.