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Here's What You Should Know Before Using Pore Strips

They're incredibly satisfying — but do they actually help your skin?

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If you've ever used pore strips, you know how gross and satisfying they feel.

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There's nothing better than ripping that strip off your nose and seeing a little forest of pore junk. And the internet definitely agrees — pictures of used pore strips continue to go viral. Like, really viral.

But what do pore strips actually do to your skin? And is this helping or maybe hurting?

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We spoke to Dr. Arielle Nagler, a dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, to find out if pore strips are as beneficial as they are satisfying.

While pore strips do remove a good deal of dirt, oil, and dead skin, they only pull off a very superficial layer — so they don't truly clean your pores.

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Let's quickly go over how pore strips work. "The strip is usually a woven material with an adhesive or polymer on one side, that sticks to your nose when wet," Nagler told BuzzFeed Health. Then you leave it on until it dries (usually for 10 or 15 minutes), and when you pull it off anything stuck to the strip comes off too — that's the really satisfying part.

"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.

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.

They won't reduce pore size or prevent you from developing blackheads, either. So they aren't beneficial in the long term.

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If you're using pore strips to remove blackheads, the benefit will be very short-term. "Within 24 to 48 hours, all that junk that you removed with the pore strip will reaccumulate — and your skin cells are constantly turning over, so the dead cells get trapped inside the pores," Nagler says. In other words, pore strips won't make blackheads totally disappear, so they will keep coming back.

"Some people also think that pore strips can be used to reduce pore size, but that isn't possible — even if your pores look less noticeable after using pore strips, they haven't changed in size," she says.

You'll need to use other products — like chemical peels or retinoids — to really clean your pores and prevent nose blackheads and breakouts in the future.

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"I recommend products such as chemical peels, retinols, and retinoids to really clean the pores and prevent blackheads and breakouts in the long term," Nagler says. Most of these come as creams or serums, and can either be purchased over the counter or obtained with a prescription from a dermatologist.

These products can either be used on their own or in conjunction with pore strips (as long as there's no irritation) to improve results. And what about pore size? "We usually do some gentle laser treatments to reduce pore size," she says.

If you aren't into chemicals, there are other options like oil cleansing that can be used to clean nose pores. But a dermatologist is still your best resource when it comes to deciding what's right for you and your skin.

That being said, pore strips probably won't harm you or cause serious damage, like ripping off a layer of skin or breaking capillaries.

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As long as you're following the directions on the box and you don't notice any issues pore strips won't do any harm. And while they can remove some healthy skin cells, Nagler explains, most of the skin they're removing is dead and ready to come off. "The force of pulling it off just isn't strong enough to really pull off skin and cause serious damage," says Nagler.

"Some people are worried that pulling the strips off will break capillaries or permanently damage the complexion but this is not likely, since the force of pulling the strip off just isn't that strong — especially compared to trauma that can occur to your skin when you forcibly squeeze a pimple," she says.

But they can cause irritation if you use them too frequently, or have sensitive and allergy-prone skin.

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"Very often I'll see patients with irritation, often from using the strips too frequently, and they'll develop redness just because of the trauma of repeatedly ripping the strip off," Nagler says. So she recommends using pore strips no more than once a week, and discontinuing use or seeing a dermatologist if you notice serious issues after using them.

"People with conditions that make their skin more sensitive or prone to damage, such as eczema or rosacea, probably shouldn't use pore strips — and people who have allergies to cosmetics or adhesive should just be careful and maybe test the pore strip on their arm first before putting it on their face," she says.

So if you do use pore strips, make sure you do so responsibly. Don't use them more than once a week, follow the directions, don't leave them on for too long, and rinse your face thoroughly afterwards.

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"After you pull the strip off, there's usually some adhesive still stuck to the nose and you want to make sure you really wash that off since it can cause irritation," Nagler says.

Another tip from Nagler is steaming your face beforehand, since that will open your pores so the strip can grab a bit more dirt and oil and give a better clean than normal.

TL;DR: Pore strips don't sufficiently clean your nose pores and you'll need other products to do the job, but they probably aren't gonna harm you, either.

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"I mean I get it, they're so satisfying to use — even I've used them sometimes," Nagler says.

Watch Nagler break it all down in the video below!

View this video on YouTube

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