For many of us, pore strips have been a skincare staple since our teen years. It’s possible these sticky strips were your introduction to skincare, as they’ve been an affordable go-to for blackhead removal and pore reduction since the 1990s.
Pore strips might seem like the perfect solution to help get rid of unwanted blemishes, but could they be bad for your skin? If you use pore strips, you might be doing more damage than good.
Pore strips can be effective when fighting blackheads because they remove top layers of dead skin cells.
According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, blackheads form when dead skin cells and oil clog a pore. The material inside the clogged pore oxidizes and turns black when exposed to air, hence the name blackhead.
Visible blackheads are no match for most pore strips because the adhesive strip pulls out the accumulated dirt.
Someone with normal to oily skin who is blackhead prone will find that pore strips are a great one-and-done option for getting rid of blackheads. But pore strips aren’t a permanent solution, and they aren’t the best option for everyone.
Pore Strips Can Damage Sensitive Skin
For those of us who have sensitive skin — including anyone with rosacea, eczema or seborrhea — pore strips could damage your skin.
“Those with sensitive or fragile skin may experience more irritation or trauma to the skin with pore strips, so I would not recommend them for these skin types,” Dr. King explained.
Board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo M.D. adds that acne-prone skin types should also skip the pore strips.
“If you have a combination of blackheads, whiteheads and red pimples, pore strips are probably way too aggressive for you,” Dr. Ciraldo explained. “Red, inflamed acne lesions will also get more irritated.”
Dr. Ciraldo also noted that those of us who use topical retinoids or other potent skin care products should avoid pore strips completely.
Alternatives To Pore Strips
If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin and need to get rid of blackheads or reduce the size of pores, there are some alternatives to pore strips. One great choice is a chemical exfoliant that uses active ingredients to dissolve dead skin cells.
There are serums, cleansers and toners that you can easily add to your beauty routine. Like Tula Instant Facial Skin Reviving Treatment Pads, Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution from The Ordinary, and COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid.
The key ingredients to look for in these products are alpha hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, and beta hydroxy acids, like salicylic acid.
Not every skincare product is one-size-fits-all, though. So definitely talk to your dermatologist if you have any questions or concerns.