If my teenage self was reading this now, she’d probably have an epic meltdown. Everyone used pore strips growing up whether we really needed them at the time or not, the gross, but exciting moment when you pulled it off (rip is probably a more accurate verb because those suckers hurt) and saw all the gunk that came from your pores was a totally iconic teenage moment. Sigh. I miss those days and those cellulite-less legs, but I digress. Some people still swear by pore strips, but are they actually helping?
Why should we ditch the nostalgia?
In theory, pore strips are designed to pull out the blackheads and clean out the pores. The reality is that they aren’t powerful enough to actually clean out the pores, and even when they do remove the blackheads, the pores will fill up again because the act of stripping off the pore strip can actually stretch your pores in the long run. Plus, you’re not treating the underlying issue (large pores and overactive oil glands). Which we know from previous blogs (you better know!) that large pores aren’t really something you can actually shrink. Don’t worry though, there are alternatives to cleaning out your pores!
Pore strips are made with adhesives and Polyquaternium-37 (hairspray-like sticky substance), and sometimes contain alcohol or astringents which can cause skin irritation. Even those without sensitive skin can have issues with pore strips. The adhesives can also be removing more than just what they are advertised to do. Sure, it might be removing the gunk, but it could also be pulling up parts of your epidermal skin layer. This layer of skin is meant to protect the deeper layers from bacteria and other harmful things from the environment. If you’re removing that unintentionally, you could be doing more harm than good. You could be at more risk for dryness and skin infections if the epidermal layer is removed. Yikes! No thanks. But wait, there’s more! Ugh, I know, like I didn’t already give you a laundry list of cringy side effects. Removing the pore strips can also cause small blood vessels in the nose to break and you can totally see this when it happens. Not to mention the fact that if you already have skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or acne, using pore strips can compromise your skin barrier and make all of those issues infinitely worse.
What are some alternatives to pore strips?
Okay, so not everyone thinks that pore strips are bad all the time, but with so many concerns I think it might be safest just to avoid them especially because there are many amazing products that effectively clean out your pores, albeit maybe somewhat less satisfying than actually seeing the nasty stuff on a pore strip.
Me saying to have a solid skincare routine may start to sound like a broken record, but it’s usually the first step in correcting any skin issues you might have. Cleansing the face and making sure you remove makeup every night is the bare minimum, but oh so important.
Instead of using pore strips to help with cleaning out the pores, try using a chemical exfoliator. It might be the least satisfying of the trio (pore strip, physical exfoliators, chemical exfoliators) in an “I can see the results” kind of way, but it’s actually the safest and most effective option for removing dead skin cells and cleaning out the gunk. Retinols are also a good way to clean out the pores and help prevent them from clogging up again.
So, it’s not the same as a pore strip and you don’t get the tingly wave of nostalgic teenage bliss, but your skin will definitely be better off if you move on to more sophisticated skin care methods (yes I said this in a snooty accent while sipping some tea).
By Sadie Young