No matter how much time or money you spend on your skincare routine, blackheads will always surface. But despite how satisfying it may feel, removing blackheads without a pore strip takes serious self-control... and might actually save your skin.
Blackheads (also known as open comedones) are pores that fill up with oil or dead skin cells that block the follicle, which causes clogged pores. “They appear black due to the process of oxidation and are not actually related to dirt in the skin as some people may think,” Dr. Marisa Garshick, a New York City-based dermatologist, tells TZR. Blackheads tend to be stubborn because they're a result of irregular skin cell turnover. If the pores are enlarged enough, they may be more likely to fill up with the "bad" stuff, she says. And if your skin is already susceptible to acne, your pores clog faster.
Pore strips, which are shaped to fit the bridge of your nose and come equipped with some sort of adhesive on the back, do get the job done quickly. However, they can do more damage than good according to Dr. Howard Sobel, a New York City dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin. "The strips tend to affect the skin’s laxity and make your pores larger," he notes. Instead, he recommends cleansing your face with a salicylic acid wash each day to help penetrate into the pores and loosen up the dirt and oil. "You can also use a salicylic acid mask or peel to speed up the process, anything you can leave on, so it gets a chance to work longer,” Dr. Sobel explains.
Replacing your pore strips with beneficial products like an efficient exfoliator that contains salicylic acid, charcoal-based masks, and retinoids (which increase cell turnover) won't just remove them — but they'll prevent that fleeting moment of pain that occurs once you snatch the strip off. Post-cleansing, try using non-comedogenic or oil-free moisturizers to keep your pores open. "Removing the blackheads is just as important as what can be done to prevent them," Dr. Garshick says.
Ahead, shop the best blackhead fighting options that will send your pore strips into extinction.