If you’ve ever spent half an hour plus peering into a magnifying mirror desperately trying to pick out your blackheads, you’re probably well aware of pore strips. The aptly named fabric face coverings have been used to dislodge pesky blackheads from your pores for years – but there is some debate about whether or not they actually work. Intrigued? Us too. We reached out to top dermatologist Dr Sophie Shotter to discuss exactly what they do, how to use them and whether or not they do what they say on the tin.
What are pore strips?
Regardless of whether or not you have tried them, you can probably make a pretty accurate guess at what they do. “Pore strips are strips of fabric with an adhesive on one side designed to pull out blackheads (open comedones),” explains Dr Sophie. “They do this by gripping onto the oil in the blackheads, pulling them out when you remove them from your skin.”
Who are pore strips best for?
It’s no secret that people with excess sebum and blemish-prone skin types are more likely to get blackheads and spots – and those are who should be reaching for said strips. “They are best for oily skin types,” Dr Sophie confirms. “These tend to be those most prone to blackheads anyway. People with fragile and more delicate skin should avoid them, as they can tear the skin or cause damage in those people.”
Do pore strips really work?
Now, the reason we are all here. They sound great and don’t look too bad either, but is there any evidence to suggest pore strips work effectively? Contrary to our initial belief, Dr Sophie seems to think so. “Yes, in some ways they do work. When used properly they can and do remove blackheads. However, they do not solve the root cause of the problem and are therefore only a temporary fix. What is perhaps more important is incorporating ingredients into your skincare regime to help prevent blackheads from recurring, eliminating the need for pore strips.”
What is the right way to use pore strips?
Ok, so pore strips do work. Exciting as this news may be, there are a few things you to know first before you start sticking them all over your face. To get the best results, you need to follow the steps precisely, otherwise you risk removing a blackhead free strip. Take notes.
Step 1. First thing is first, get your face wet. “Most pore strips need to be applied to damp skin,” says Dr Sophie. “This allows them to stick to the skin.”
Step 2: Apply to the congested area. It might sound like a no brainer, but make sure you place it where there are blackheads. There is no point plastering it across your cheeks and expecting to see results because, in most people, blackheads do not reside here. In most people blackheads congregate on your T-zone, more specifically across the nose and the chin.
Step 3: Let it set. “Leave it on for around 10 minutes, or until it feels stiff. Dr Sophie says.
Step 4: Remove gently. It isn’t a wax strip, so don’t rip it off in an exaggerated way as this can cause damage to your skin. “Slowly peel it away and examining the gunk stuck to the back of it,” says Dr Sophie.
Step 5: You’ve done the hard work, so don’t ruin it by slathering a bunch of rich creams and oils on your face. Dr Sophie suggests following up with an alcohol-free toner to try and close the pores, before using a non-comedogenic moisturiser on the area. “Begin using pore strips weekly – some skins can use them more often, but this will allow you to dip your toe and test how they work for you.”