- Pore strips can be an effective way of dealing with blackheads.
- They work by removing oil and dead skin cells from the top layer of skin.
- Pore strips can damage your skin if they are used incorrectly or if you have particularly sensitive skin.
Pore strips are widely used in many people’s regular beauty routine. Cheap, affordable and available just about everywhere, they are a very popular way of removing blackheads and improving overall skin tone.
However, pore strips are not without their issues. The sticky strips can trigger breakouts and irritate sensitive skin, and some people find them ineffective for removing blackheads that lie deep beneath the surface of the skin.
To get the best results with pore strips, it’s important to perfect your technique and only use products you can trust. Read on to learn more about how pore strips work and which brands offer the best results.
What are Pore Strips Used for?
Pore strips are primarily used to remove blackheads. Blackheads occur when a hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells and/or sebum, a type of oil that helps lubricate your skin and hair. This produces a small bump known as a comedo. If the skin around the clogged pore can’t close over, air gets into the comedo and oxidizes the sebum and dead skin cells, turning the comedo black.
How do Pore Strips Work?
There are dozens of different products on the market, but they all work in more or less the same way. A pore strip contains ingredients that react with water to create an extremely sticky adhesive. As it dries, the strip hardens and attaches firmly to the top layer of skin cells and the oil glands in your pores. When you tear off the pore strip, it removes anything lying near the surface of your skin, whether it be dirt buildup, oil, dead skin cells or blackheads.
Do Pore Strips Work?
If you’ve ever used a pore strip, chances are you examined the sticky underside to discover an interesting collection of what appears to be dirt, gunk and blackheads. However, you may be surprised to learn that most of this is actually just a mixture of sebum and dead skin cells known as sebaceous filaments.
Which begs the question: do pore strips actually remove blackheads?
The answer is both yes and no. Pore strips, when used correctly, can be effective at removing the superficial portion of a blackhead. They are also great for removing some of the superficial debris that might be clogging up your pores.
However, pore strips cannot treat deep blackheads, nor can they remove deep-down dirt and hardened sebum that lies far beneath the surface of the skin. And while pore strips can temporarily make your skin feel softer and smoother, they do not treat the underlying cause of blackheads.
While pore strips are most commonly used around the nose area, they can also be used on the chin and forehead. Ideally, you should look for a product that is made specifically for the area you wish to treat, but most nose strips will work reasonably well wherever you place them. Just remember to follow the instructions carefully to ensure the strip adheres correctly to your skin.
» Learn more about home remedies to remove blackheads from your nose, chin, and back
Best Pore Strips for Your Nose
CalMyotis Nose Pore Strips
Best at: A deep and gentle cleanse
What makes it stand out: No additives
- No preservatives, dyes, fragrances or fillers
- Very gentle on the skin
- Good for all skin types
- Take longer to work
- Not very sticky
Auslka Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strips
Best at: Dealing with tough skin and stubborn blemishes
What makes it stand out: High active charcoal content
- Good for stubborn acne and oily skin
- Extra thick strips
- Money back guarantee
- Can only be used on the T-zone
- While rare, charcoal residue can linger in pores
Sace Lady Deep Cleansing Nose Pore Strips
Best at: Quick pore cleansing
What makes it stand out: Simple & good for sensitive skin
- Unscented and hypoallergenic
- Good for sensitive skin
- Does not mold to nose shape
- Adhesive sometimes comes off strip.
Best Pore Strips for Your Forehead
Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips for Nose & Face
Best at: General pore cleansing
What makes it stand out: It’s the classic pore strip
Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips come in two varieties: nose and face. Nose strips are designed to match the contour of most noses while face strips are perfect for covering a large area like the forehead. These strips are highly effective at unclogging pores and removing all dirt, oil, and blackheads. They work on all skin types and are hypoallergenic. Visible results are noticeable in only ten minutes. If you’re looking for basic yet effective pore strips, these are for you.
- Good for all skin types
- Dermatologist-tested and oil-free
- Less adhesive than other brands
- Can dry out skin
Anjou Blackhead Remover Pore Strips
Best at: Gently removing impurities
What makes it stand out: It’s all natural and cruelty-free
- Uses all natural ingredients
- Good for sensitive skin
- Higher price tag
Best Pore Strips for Your Chin
Bioré Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strips
Best at: Removing oil
What makes it stand out: Made of natural charcoal
- Great for oily skin
- You can easily see everything they pulls out
- Uses charcoal for an extra effective clean
- Can hurt when peeling off
- May be too intense for sensitive skin
- Can be used for spot treatment
- Good for blackheads and whiteheads
- Patches are invisible — can be worn to bed or under makeup
- Designed for zits more than clogged pores
- Only comes with five blackhead removers
How to Use Pore Strips
- Wash the affected area of skin with warm water and a gentle cleanser.
- Wet your skin with water or a damp towel. The skin must be wet for the strip to adhere correctly.
- Peel the strip off of its plastic liner and place it on your skin, smooth side down. Press firmly to ensure the peel strip makes good contact with your skin and is as smooth as possible.
- Leave the strip on for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove strip, pulling from bottom to top.
- Wash your skin with warm water and a gentle cleanser to remove any residue.
The Risks of Using Pore Strips
The adhesive properties of pore strips make them great for removing debris from the surface of your skin, but they can also cause damage.
When you remove a pore strip, there is a risk of tearing or injuring your skin, especially if you have naturally thin skin or suffer certain disorders like psoriasis or rosacea. This can leave your skin looking flaky, red and inflamed. Pore strips also sometimes induce breakouts in acne-prone skin.
Further, there is some concern that an overly forceful removal of the strip could break capillaries, which would leave your skin looking red and blotchy. However, most dermatologists agree that pore strips don’t produce enough force to damage surface capillaries. Any facial redness or spider veins that you might experience after using a pore strip are usually the result of the strip irritating your skin and stimulating the blood vessels near your nose.
Regularly exfoliating helps remove the dead skin cells that clog up pores and lead to blackheads. Exfoliating serums containing alpha or beta hydroxy acids are great for removing buildup without damaging your skin, making them valuable for both blackhead and acne treatment. Remember to avoid over-exfoliating, as this can lead to red, irritated and dry skin.
» Learn more about the risks and benefits of alpha and beta hydroxy acids
Use face masks
Face masks are also very effective at removing impurities from the skin and preventing clogged pores. Plus, they have the added benefit of improving skin tone and diminishing acne blemishes while leaving your skin looking softer, smoother and healthier.
Invest in a salicylic acid face wash
There are a number of over-the-counter pore cleansers on the market that contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid proven to break down sebum and dead skin cells, thereby reducing the risk of blackheads. Start by using your salicylic acid cleanser once a day and gradually ramp it up to twice a day if your skin reacts well.
Use a retinoid
Retinoids are compounds derived from vitamin A and used widely in skin care products. Retinoids help keep blackheads under control due to their ability to increase cell turnover. They also promote collagen production, which keeps the skin firm and reduces some of the signs of aging. Over-the-counter retinoids are less potent than their prescription counterparts and take longer to work.
» Learn more about Retin-A and at home retinol creams that can help keep blackheads under control
Pore strips are strong adhesives that function by removing the top layer of dead skin cells and the superficial portions of blackheads. While they won’t actively prevent blackheads, they can remove oil and debris from the surface of the skin and reduce the appearance of pores.
Pore strips can damage the skin and may not be effective if used incorrectly. For best results, always follow the instructions as directed. Do not use pore strips if you have thin, sensitive or acne-prone skin.