Do Pore Strips Work & Are They Safe?
The other day I was out for a walk with a friend, when we got on the topic of pore strips. He was talking about how gratifying it was to rip out those blackheads (they were probably sebaceous filaments, anyway) - and I couldn't help but think about the mechanics of essentially applying a type of "glue" to your skin, and then ripping it away really fast, kind of like waxing. So I decided to do a blog post on it. And so here we are!
Something you're probably wondering if you've never tried a pore strip to clear up the brown & black specks that cluster on your nose, is - do they actually work? Generally speaking, yes, they do. You simply apply it to your nose, press down, remove it, and you get to see the forest of plugs staring back at you from the strip. So, they do actually deliver on their promise in a superficial way.
But what we really want to know is - are they safe? Who cares if they work - safety first, am I right?
Are Pore Strips Safe?
One of the first issues that comes to mind when I think of pore strips is the fact that the adhesive products that they put on the pore strips could actually become stuck in the pores even after removal, leading to breakouts and irritation. There's always that potential, but if you're willing to trade up a nose full of black spots for a pimple or two, maybe this isn't that big of a concern for you.
But something you'd probably be concerned to learn is that, in the long run, using pore strips might even make your pores larger?! Ick! Pore strips' very adhesive substance's purpose is to stick to the plugs of debris in your pores and pull them out when removed. However, when you rip the strip off, you're actually stretching your pores, and over time this could lead to a noticeable enlargement of the pore. This is commonly why people complain of large pores around their nose. Larger pores = more room for debris and dead skin to collect = the potential for larger, recurring blackheads/sebaceous filaments. What?!
You're probably sitting there, now, thinking about all the times you used a pore strip as a teenager and how your pores have progressively gotten worse as you got older, and you're probably kicking yourself over it, too.
What could be worse than large, stretched pores?! Well .. torn and damaged skin! Have you ever tried a pore strip and noticed a spider vein / broken capillary appear, or the skin became sensitive, easily irritated, dry and flaky? Yep, that could be caused by your use of pore strips, too! And the last thing you probably want to be doing in an attempt to have beautiful, clear skin is damaging it!
Yikes. So essentially, the pore strips have the potential to do a lot of damage to our skin!
Oh, well, at least they work ...
If the only chronic skin condition you have is blackheads on your nose, or in your T-zone, you're probably thinking that the benefits of pore strips still far outweigh the risks and side effects. Blackheads are unsightly, after all!
Well, think again.
All these pore strips really do is remove the black part of the plug that we can see, they don't remove the plug at the root, and eventually those plugs will resurface and oxidize to turn back into the blackheads we know and hate.
So, what, then? Am I doomed to suffer forever? What's a person to do? Pore strips do "work" on some superficial level, that's why people use them! If they're so damaging, what other option do we have? Surely we don't need to just suffer with this skin issue, right? Right!
Alternatives to Pore Strips
Rather than potentially tearing, damaging and enlarging your pores, opt for a topical treatment like Paula's Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA. This is one of the more effective treatment options, and it's gentle enough to use all over the face - it even helps with milia!
Unlike pore strips, a topical treatment like the one mentioned above contains salicylic acid which actually penetrates deep into the pore and dissolves the crud using a chemical action rather than a mechanical one. Generally speaking, using a treatment like this, you should see a marked improvement within a few weeks, one that lasts and doesn't cause the same damage as pore strips.
Extractors are also an option but not one you should choose often. They can also damage and enlarge the pores if not done properly.
At the end of the day, it's more important to do what's best for your skin overall than to do what is minimally effective only temporarily. It's important to establish a good skin care routine with good products that will help prevent blackheads from re-occurring, and to try to treat the root cause (hormonal, dietary, environmental/external, etc) along the way.
Do you use pore strips? What are your thoughts on them, and have you noticed any damage from them? Leave your comments below!