My beauty desk is always full, the vanity peppered with products that, in my head, are segregated into the tried, to try and didn’t like piles. Despite having scores of products with convoluted instructions, I still haven’t solved the mystery of pore strips. There’s something oddly satisfying about watching a pore strip being yanked off someone’s nose with all the gunk of whiteheads and blackheads coming off. I mean, Dr. Pimple Popper on Instagram is living proof of this. To get rid of these nasty whiteheads and blackheads, I’ve done the unimaginable. I’ve used the infamous walnut scrub and practically peeled the skin of my nose off, I’ve tried the wackiest DIYs with ingredients that shouldn’t be applied to your skin and I’ve also applied a thin layer of Fevicol on my nose when I could’ve just used pore strips.
I’m going to be honest here, I’ve never been entirely convinced about the efficacy of pore strips. I mean, can a tiny strip of paper actually be effective at removing stubborn blackheads and whiteheads? I decided to get this million-dollar question answered by experts.
Understanding How Pore Strips Work
Pore strips are essentially paper strips that are meant to extract clogged pores with whiteheads and blackheads. “These are designed to extract buildup from the pores or the hair follicles of the skin, particularly in the nose area where they tend to be more visible,” explains Dr Manasi Shirolikar, consultant dermatologist and founder of online consulting brand drmanasiskin.com.
She further elaborates that these strips contain an adhesive material that, when applied to the skin, adheres to the surface and hardens as it dries. This hardening action creates a strong bond with the sebum, dead skin cells and debris trapped within your pores. Dr. Manasi explains, “When the strip is finally peeled off, these dead skin cells and the debris is lifted away, making your skin look temporarily cleaner and smoother.
Do They Effectively Remove Whiteheads and Blackheads?
Compared to using your fingers to poke and prod over unwanted whiteheads and blackheads, pore strips pose themselves as a safer way to eliminate pesky skin cloggers. Dr Nishita Ranka, an internationally acclaimed dermatologist, medical director and founder of Dr Nishita’s Clinic for Skin, Hair and Aesthetics elaborates, “Pore strips can be effective at removing certain blackheads and whiteheads, particularly those near the surface of the skin.” However, she warns that their efficacy is extremely subjective, and varies from person to person depending on the type of skin, depth of impurities and the type of pore blockages present.
Are They Safe To Use In The Longterm?
As a concerned beauty consumer, I’ve always wondered about the safety of the adhesive material that makes these pore strips what they are. Experts unanimously agree that pore strips are safe for occasional use when applied correctly. Dr. Manasi cautions us that these strips shouldn’t be used by individuals with sensitive skin since the adhesive present along with tugging of the script can cause redness or even broken capillaries.
However, in the long run, pore strips shouldn’t be what you rely on for getting rid of whiteheads and blackheads. “Frequent and prolonged use of these strips can have long-term side effects such as skin irritation, a disrupted barrier and even increased sensitivity,” explains Dr Nishita. She further warns us that the physical action of stripping can potentially cause microtears in the skin, making it vulnerable to further damage.
What Should Be Used Instead?
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As satisfying as removing a pore strip from your nose can be, its benefits are only temporary with potential side effects. Dr. Manasi says, “Instead of relying solely on pore strips for exfoliation, consider gentler and more effective methods. Chemical exfoliants containing salicylic acid or betaine salicylate are better suited for unclogging pores and promoting a healthy turnover.” She adds that apart from this, adding a weekly clay mask to your skincare routine can help absorb excess oil and remove buildup without the risk of physical damage.