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The Effectiveness of Pore Strips: Are They Worth Using?

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

Like indulging in the satisfying act of popping bubble wrap or enjoying a soothing ASMR video before bedtime, there are few things in life that can compare to the gratification of peeling a pore strip off your nose. And unlike most skincare treatments that require waiting weeks or even months for results, the visible removal of gunk is instant. (Let’s be honest, those before-and-after results with pore strips are simultaneously disgusting and incredibly gratifying.)

However, nose strips have gained a negative reputation for being harsh on the skin, with some people believing that they do more harm than good. Here, dermatologists clarify the situation by explaining how pore strips work and whether they are truly safe to use.

How Do Pore Strips Work?

Pore strips are designed to extract blackheads, which are essentially blocked pores. According to Dr. Robert Anolik, a certified dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, pores become clogged due to skin oils, debris (dead skin cells), and dirt. The clog itself can either appear black or create a shadow-like effect, making the surface look dark.

To release a clogged pore, a strip or cloth with adhesive adheres to the sebum, dead skin, and dirt trapped within your nose pores and effectively suctions it away from the skin’s surface. As explained by Dr. Sapna Palep, a dermatologist and the founder and medical director of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, the adhesive acts like a magnet. So when you peel off the cloth, it takes along all the gunk that has become embedded in your pores, resulting in a mountain-like stalactite formation on the strip.

Do Pore Strips Actually Remove Blackheads?

Do pore strips truly deliver the expected results? In short, yes – with a small caveat. While they are capable of removing surface-level impurities, they cannot eliminate the deeper components of blackheads residing within the pores. This means that you may still notice some dark spots along your nose after peeling off the strip, as noted by Dr. Anolik. Additionally, pore strips do not prevent new blackheads from forming. This implies that even if you use a pore strip on Monday morning, you might find yourself in need of another one by Wednesday to address a fresh crop of dark dots.

Another drawback of pore strips is that their adhesive removes not only pore-blocking substances but also the hydrating oils from your skin. Consequently, your skin compensates for the lost oils by producing more oil, potentially leading to a vicious cycle of increased blackheads. In simpler terms, using pore strips too frequently could result in creating the very problem you were trying to fix.

How Often Should You Use Pore Strips?

The Top Picks for Pore Strips

Both dermatologists observe that pore strips can safely be applied once or twice per week. Just exercise caution if you have sensitive skin, and abstain completely if you have active skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or sunburn, as they could exacerbate those concerns.

When utilizing them, ensure that you cleanse your face with a mild, moisturizing cleanser beforehand to prevent excessively depleting your skin of beneficial oils; you’ll then desire to proceed with a moisturizer that contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid or glycerin to restore the hydration barrier. Two products that receive Dr. Palep’s seal of approval: La Roche-Posay Toleraine Double Repair Moisturizer (Purchase It, $21,, which includes ceramides, moisturizing glycerin, niacinamide, and the brand’s prebiotic thermal water to calm and attract moisture to the skin; and EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex (Purchase It, $45,, which features ceramides and essential lipids to replenish moisture, enhance tone and texture, and illuminate the skin.

Superior Pore Strips to Experiment With

Blackheads are a variant of acne, and without proper treatment, they can evolve into a more significant issue than necessary, states Dr. Anolik. Keep in mind: Pore strips are not a lasting solution, nor are they the initial stage in the process of removing blackheads.

If you’re searching for a more enduring solution, it’s preferable to address blackheads through your skincare regimen. Take into consideration employing the assistance of products with salicylic acid to avoid pores from clogging initially, as recommended by Dr. Anolik. Dr. Palep also approves of glycolic acid cleansers to aid in the treatment of blackheads and retinol or retinoids for long-term management.

Once you’ve established an acne-fighting skin-care routine, you can then use pore strips for touch-ups and maintenance of clear pores. For example, if you have a work presentation or party coming up, feel free to apply a pore strip as a quick solution to clear your skin.

Here, the top pore strips to eliminate those bothersome dark specks on your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead.

Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Strips


The original pore-unclogging expert (and possibly the most popular), Bioré strips have withstood the test of time because they genuinely work. The brand claims its strips are twice as effective in just one use compared to other alternatives available, and they effectively remove buildup, dirt, oil, cosmetics, and blackheads instantly. To use, simply dampen your nose and apply the strip, using your fingers to lightly press down and smooth it over your skin. After leaving it on for 10 minutes, peel it off.

Miss Spa Extract Pore Strips


While blackheads are most commonly found on the nose, they can also appear in other areas. Miss Spa offers a kit that includes butterfly nose strips and triangle-shaped strips that can address any area of your face that is causing concern, including your cheeks, chin, forehead, and jawline. Just be aware that when applying strips to your forehead or between your eyes, the skin becomes more sensitive as you get closer to your eyelids, as pointed out by Dr. Anolik.

Boscia Pore Purifying Black Charcoal Strips


Dr. Palep is a fan of the ingredient activated charcoal for eliminating excess oil and clearing pores, and this strip harnesses its powers to remove blackheads quickly. In addition to charcoal, the strip also contains witch hazel and peony root extract to eliminate bacteria that cause blemishes, tighten pores, and help prevent the appearance of blackheads and whiteheads.

Peace Out Oil-Absorbing Pore Treatment Strips


With over 500 five-star reviews on Sephora’s website, you can say goodbye to blackheads with these hydrocolloid-packed strips. They not only absorb sebum, oil, and dead skin trapped in your pores, but also utilize vitamin A to minimize the visibility of large pores. Keep in mind that these are not an instant solution, as the instructions suggest wearing them for at least six hours or overnight for optimal results.

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