Why I Don’t Use Pore Strips (And You Shouldn’t Either)

by Gio
why you shouldn't use pore strips

When I was a teen, I inflicted all kinds of damage to my skin.

I didn’t always bother to remove makeup before going to bed.

Sunscreen was something I used only at the beach (and I rarely went there, so I almost never wore it).

I used cheap products with comedogenic ingredients that would leave me with pimples and blackheads. And then, I tried to remove them with pore strips.

Ugh. Sorry, skin!

Of course, back then I thought I was doing all the right things. Pore strips were something that pretty much every magazine recommended (and still do).

And why not? You apply one to your nose, press, remove, and voilà. Your blackheads are gone and your pores look smaller.

But only temporarily. In the long run, pore strips actually make them bigger. True story! Here’s the scoop:

Why You Shouldn’t Use Pore Strips

Here are all the reasons why pore strips are bad for your skin:

1. Pore Strips Stretch Pores And Makes Them Clog Faster

You know what pore strips are made of? Polyquaternium-37. That’s the hairspray-like substance that makes the strip stick to the gunk within your pores.

When you rip the strip off, it stretches your pores. Over time, your pores are so stretched, all sorts of gunk can easily fill them. You know what that means? Yep, a nose full of blackheads.

Related: 3 Science-Backed Ways To Shrink Large Pores

Want a cheap skincare routine for acne that works? Subscribe to my newsletter below and receive The Ordinary Acne Skincare Routine Cheatsheet:

2. Pore Strips Can Irritate And Tear Skin

Pore strips are harsh, my friend.

When you rip off the strips, they can irritate and tear the skin and even bring spider veins to the surface. They are particularly dangerous if:

  • You’ve been having facial peels
  • You’re using Retin-A, Renova, AHAs, or BHA
  • You’re taking Isotretinoin for acne
  • You have naturally thin skin
  • You have rosacea, psoriasis or any other skin disorder

There’s more.

The glue that makes them adhere so well to the skin can get inside the pores, too. That can irritate them and cause breakouts, too.

Related: How To Deal With Rosacea

3. Pore Strips Don’t Remove The Entire Blackhead

But, but, but… seeing that strip covered in gunk feels SO good. The stretching and tearing pale in comparison. Who cares about them? Look at all those blackheads on the strips. Now, that’s satisfying!

I hate to break your bubble, but all that gunk is just the top of the blackheads. You know, the parts there were closer to the opening. The bodies of your blackheads are still well and alive and will haunt you again.

A little push and soon that gunk will reach the surface. Yep, another blackhead. Except, it’s not. It’s the old one you hadn’t removed properly the first time around.

Related: The Right Way To Treat Blackheads

some by mi aha BHA PHA 30 days miracle toner

What Should You Use Instead Of Pore Strips?

If blackheads pay frequent visits to your face, exfoliate regularly with salicylic acid. It can penetrate inside the pores, so it removes the whole thing, not just the head. Bye bye, blackheads!

By the way, salicylic acid doesn’t necessarily need to be in an exfoliant. It can be in a toner, moisturizer, wherever… Just as long as it stays on the skin for hours, it’ll work fine.

Best picks:

The Bottom Line

Pore strips do more harm than good. Stay away from comedogenic stuff and exfoliate often and you won’t have to deal with blackheads anymore.



Trisha July 11, 2014 - 1:48 pm

Wow! I had no idea! Makes total sense though, especially about the pore stretching.

Good thing I almost never use them. It’s been years.

Gio July 11, 2014 - 2:56 pm

Trisha, glad to hear that. They seem so innocuous and such an easy fix, but they can do quite a bit of damage!

anonymus June 28, 2016 - 3:37 am

Can I still use egg white mask? My sister uses it and her skin is moisturised and clean

Gio July 2, 2016 - 1:11 am

Anonymous, I’m not a big fan of it. Salicylic acid is the best thing for blemishes.

Jess July 18, 2016 - 3:31 pm

Can we use glue. People use toxic free glue on their face and when it dries they peel it off gently I’ve seen a couple YouTube videos on it.

Gio July 23, 2016 - 10:39 pm

Jess, no, don’t! Glue poses the same problems. It stretches the pores unnecessarily and only removes the superficial part of the blackhead. The rest of it will remain in the pores and soon cause more blemishes. Stick to salicylic acid. It’s gentler than glue and can remove the whole thing.

Michelle November 27, 2016 - 9:24 am

I wish I saw this sooner. Ive been using pore strips for about 2 tines a month for 6 months and my pores have gotten more visible. 🙁 I am never using then again but do you think my pores will shrink after a while of not using pore strips or am I doomed. If not, do you have any recommendations or tips on how to shrink them?

Gio December 4, 2016 - 10:14 pm

Michelle, oh no! Are you using retinol serum? That should help get your pores back to normal more quickly.

nat May 19, 2017 - 1:32 pm

I just bought a pack of pore strips for the first time, whoops! Is it too bad if you only use them occasionally (i.e. before a photo day for a quick fix?)

Gio May 21, 2017 - 9:44 am

Nat, I understand you want to use them and no, occasionally they won’t do so much damage. But, they’ll only remove the superficial part of the blemish so they’ll spring up again pretty soon.

Jenny @ Support Your Beauty May 29, 2017 - 5:40 pm

I’ve tried almost every drug store pore strip, but you are right, it only lifts my deep-seated blackheads but not totally remove it. I end up doing the process 3 or 4 times just to get a so-so result. Thanks for sharing!

Gio June 3, 2017 - 3:44 pm

Jenny, it’s frustrating, isn’t t? Get yourself a bottle of salicylic acid. It will remove the whole thing.

Wendy September 8, 2017 - 2:58 am

Hi Gio,

I have used Biore Pore Strips and I had to repeat twice to see the result. I apply it at first and not contented at all so I had to try again :). I think using these strips will take time to see an effective result but I am enjoying using the product. I am giving it a thought that this one is not suitable for my skin type and just a bottle of salicylic acid is one best solution. Thanks.

Gio September 8, 2017 - 9:41 pm

Wendy, the problem is that the strip can only grab what’s on the surface, not what’s deep inside the pores. That’s why those blackheads keep coming back. I think it’s best to use salicylic acid. It can get rid of the whole beast once and for all.

Wendy September 9, 2017 - 9:50 am

Hi Gio,

Thanks for the reply. So that’s the reason why this strip can’t get rid of my blackheads. It is best not to use this product. Thank for your suggestion, I’ll switch to salicylic acid. Do you think it is best to use salicylic acid before bed time?

Gio September 17, 2017 - 9:02 am

Wendy, yes, I know it’s satisfying to see all those gunk on the pore strips, but the feeling doesn’t last long as pretty soon they come back. 🙁 I prefer to use it in the morning but you can definitely use it before bedtime.

Nicole Gaston November 29, 2017 - 6:33 pm

I just bought a pack of pore strips for the first time whoops! It is too bad if you only use them occasionally.

Gio December 3, 2017 - 6:55 pm

Nicole, I wouldn’t say using pore strips every now and then would ruin your skin. But they don’t get rid of the problem at the source so it’s kinda pointless.

Mercy Wright December 3, 2017 - 6:19 pm

Just had a horrible reaction! Nose numb for a good 30 mins, burning sensation inside nose as well as outside, black stuff left residue that was hard to remove. Skin on nose felt weird, dead. Never again. Also hard to breath through nose for 15 minutes. They used to have white strips that were not this strong. Had to take allergy medicin; almost grabbed my epipen.

Gio December 10, 2017 - 2:24 pm

Mercy, how awful! So sorry to hear this has happened to you. Better stay away indeed.

Jay July 2, 2018 - 2:20 pm

I just used a pore strip last night and I woke up with an itchy red rash on my nose and forehead. This has happened to me before all over my face but I thought it was because of a moisturizer I had just started using. Either way I would like to know why exactly I’m allergic to so I can avoid it in the future.

Gio July 5, 2018 - 8:21 pm

Jay. it’s probably something in the “glue” but without an allergy test it’s hard to know for sure.

Comments are closed.