The 6 Best Pore Strips That Actually Work on Blackheads
No matter how pristine your skincare routine, sometimes you still get blackheads. And while it may be very tempting to squeeze them out yourself, you can easily damage the skin and push the blackhead deeper inside the pore.
When used correctly, pore strips are a safe and effective way to remove blackheads instantly, as they are more gentle than using pressure and your fingers, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian. And we can't deny how oddly satisfying it is to examine all the gross gunk they pull out from your pores. Since they should be used with care, we asked dermatologists how to select and safely use pore strips. With their advice, we compiled a list of the best pore strips that leave your pores clear without any redness, irritation, or broken skin. Biore has been making pore strips for as long as we can remember, and the brand's Original Pore Strips win the Best Overall spot with its simple design that effectively pulls out blackheads, not skin.
Whether you are looking for pore strips to implement into your regular routine or want to degunk for a special event, these are the best pore strips for the job.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Biore The Original Deep Cleansing Pore Strips
Best Value: Starface Lift Off Pore Strips
Best Splurge: Peace Out Pore Treatment Strips
Best Set: Pacifica Cosmic Vanish Pore Strips
Best Three-Step System: TonyMoly Strawberry Nose Pack
Best Oversized: TonyMoly Tako Pore One Shot Nose Pack
What to Keep in Mind
All pore strips fundamentally function the same, except they have different added ingredients, like vitamin A or witch hazel. Witch hazel is used to soothe irritated and inflamed skin while vitamin A works like a retinol to eliminate debris and oil in the pores. Board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of BalmLabs Dr. Robin Schaffran says that these ingredients can be irritating for certain people, so if you have sensitive skin, you might want to choose patches like those by Hero that just use hydrocolloid to absorb oil rather than pull out blackheads.
Another common ingredient in pore strips is charcoal, which is supposed to further help draw out oil from the skin. However, Dr. Schaffran says it's not clear how effective charcoal really is at absorbing oil. "There is little to no evidence to substantiate the claims that skincare companies are making about the use of activated charcoal in skincare products, and for this reason, I do not recommend pore strips containing charcoal," says Dr. Schaffran.
Size & Shape
While most strips are designed for the bridge of your nose, there are some oversized options that will cover the area in between your eyebrows as well. And if you're looking to remove blackheads and clogged pores on your chin or forehead, consider a set that has strips specially designed to fit on each part of your face.
Your Questions, Answered
How are blackheads formed?
"Blackheads are a result of dead skin cells and oils getting clogged in the pores," says Dr. Schaffran. "When that oil and dead skin cells get exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black, leading to the appearance of blackheads."
How do I use a pore strip?
Using a pore strip is fairly straightforward — you put it on the desired area, wait the recommended amount of time, and then slowly pull it off and stare in wonder at all the gunk it pulled out. For the best results, board dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper, recommends taking a hot shower first to steam your face and open up your pores.
"The prep beforehand is the important thing because if you have dry skin and your blackheads are dried up in your pores, chances are anything you do isn't going to effectively remove them," Dr. Lee once told InStyle.
Some pore strips recommend placing the strip on wet skin so it adheres better. It's always best to check with specific products on how to put them on and when to take them off.
Are pore strips safe to use?
"Pore strips are safe to use; however, I caution against overusing them or being too rough when stripping them off since this can traumatize and irritate the skin," says Dr. Schaffran. She recommends using them up to two to three times a week rather than daily.
Can pore strips make your pores look bigger?
"No. Pore strips won't make your pores look bigger, but they often don't work, so sometimes pores are simply getting larger on their own despite using pore strips," says Dr. Schaffran.
While pore strips can help unclog your pores, they don't prevent them from getting clogged in the first place, so once you remove the blackheads, dead skin and oil can refill the pores.
What can I use instead of pore strips to clear my pores?
Besides physically removing blackheads with a pore strip, you can use certain chemicals to exfoliate dead skin and prevent clogged pores.
"Using topical products that help naturally exfoliate is an alternative but can also be used in conjunction with pore strips. Salicylic acid is a commonly recommended blackhead remedy but can be irritating and drying for adult skin," says Dr. Schaffran. "Instead, I recommend products containing gentler AHAs, like glycolic acid, which can provide daily exfoliation without the risk of irritation."
If you rather keep the pore extraction up to the pros, Dr. Schaffran recommends getting regular facials to treat blackheads.