"The strips pull off anything on the surface of your nose, which includes oil that's been oxidized and turns black (blackheads), dead skin, dirt, and hair — but they only remove a very superficial layer," says Nagler. Sometimes they might only remove the top or half of blackheads.
The pore strip hardens as it dries, and the adhesive attaches to the top layer of dead skin cells, dirt, hair, oil and, yes, blackheads (not to be confused with sebaceous filaments). All of the above is the goo you find on the used strip, and it can create quite the dramatic visual.
Those clogged pores on your nose are sebaceous filaments. Squeeze one of them and a hard piece of yellow gunk comes out, or maybe it's a long string of white gunk? Still sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous filaments are pores with sebum in them.
Pore strips may make your pores appear bigger over time
Pore strips might get you a quick cosmetic fix, but it won't stop enlarged pores from coming back (via Allure).
The white stuff that comes out of your pores like thin strings when you squeeze your nose is called a sebaceous filament. It's mostly made up of sebum (oil that your skin produces) and dead skin cells. This substance typically collects in pores around your nose and chin.
Close the holes temporarily with cold water.
Cold water makes your pores contract, which makes them look smaller. Try splashing some cold water on your face or holding a cold washcloth against the blackhead holes. This won't shrink them permanently, but it works as a good temporary fix.
They work best when they are used right after your skin has been exposed to moisture. Applying pore strips right after a shower or after the skin has been exposed to steam are both perfect times. Moisture helps pores slightly open, loosening the plugs and allowing for easier removal.
Pore strips can damage more sensitive, thin skin and even pull out both skin and hair. That's why there's a warning within the instructions to only use nose strips about once a week. Overusing nose strips can make your skin actually look worse. Pore strips can be abrasive, causing skin irritation and turning red.
While you might not be able to rid your skin of pores, it's true that nose strips can temporarily make pores look smaller. By removing blackheads, the strips clear out the black- or brown-colored blockage. This can make pores appear as if they're smaller or gone.
A sebum plug can look like a tiny bump under the surface of the skin or it may stick out through the skin like a grain of sand. When a sebum plug forms, bacteria that normally lives harmlessly on the surface of your skin can start to grow within the follicle. Inflammation follows, causing a breakout.
Nazarian recommends exfoliating with topical medications, such as glycolic acid, retinoids, and salicylic acid, to break down the plugs and dissolve them.
A sebum plug is an infrequently used term for acne. These plugs occur when sebum (oil) from your sebaceous glands become trapped in your hair follicles. Dead skin cells and then inflammation creates acne lesions. Sebum plugs may come in the form of inflammatory acne, such as pustules and papules.
So your pore strip can really adhere to blackheads instead of any surface oils, Jeong says it's important to always start with totally clean skin. A quick way to do this is to run some balancing or purifying toner over your nose or any other area before applying a pore strip.
Since the strip only sticks to the surface of your nose, it misses all the debris and oil hiding deep inside your pores that can build up and lead to pimples or blackheads, Nagler explains. So while they may leave your skin looking and feeling super clean, they don't provide a real deep cleansing.
Are Pore Vacuums Effective at Clearing Pores and Blackheads? “Pore vacuums certainly can be an effective tool in helping to regularly clear pore congestion, however they're not essential component to a skincare routine,” says Dr. Reszko.
King recommended applying moisturizer to the skin after using a pore strip, which can help combat dryness.
According to the experts at Beautypedia, you may have successfully removed the top layer of blackheads, but the root of the problem—the excess oil—remains, and they'll probably just recur. Repeatedly using strips may even rob the skin of natural oils and lead to dryness, which can ultimately exacerbate breakouts.
While cellophane tape could possibly remove surface dead skin cells, it's unclear how effective this method is in removing clogged gunk in your pores. Don't use masking, duct, industrial, or any other type of tape that could be harmful to your skin.
The Skin-Compromising Consequences
“Squeezing, picking, pulling, prodding—all of that can stretch the elastic around the pores, which makes them wider and larger, and they won't bounce back into shape. Ultimately, your pores will look larger and become increasingly more visible.
It can be very tempting — and satisfying — to squeeze out or pop blackheads. However, squeezing out blackheads can create several problems: You may not remove the entire blackhead. You may even push the blackhead further into your skin, which can cause painful irritation.