Sales of blackhead remover vacuums are up 40,000% on Amazon—but are they actually safe to use?


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Photo: Getty Images/ Inti St Clair

There has truly never been a more satisfying beauty phrase than “vacuuming your pores.” Just typing the words makes me giddy, the way I imagine other people feel when they watch ASMR videos  or listen to Maggie Rogers songs. And apparently, I’m not the only one, because pore vacuums are currently trending on Amazon.

But let me back up a second and first describe what a “pore vacuum” actually is, aside from “exactly what it sounds like.” These K-Beauty devices work to suck up the gunk from your pores (giddy),  getting rid of blackheads, and in theory leaving it smooth and clean and gorgeous and glowing, etc. etc. But considering that approximately 50 different dermatologists have told me to leave blackhead removal to the pros, I’ve recently been wondering: Are pore vacuums generally safe and okay to use on your own?

According to board-certified dermatologists Joshua Zeichner, MD and Lily Talakoub, MD, the answer is generally yes. “Pore vacuums offer mild suction to help remove blackheads from the skin,” Dr. Zeichner explains. “They may be effective in clearing mild blockages, but may not be enough if you have large or deep rooted blackheads.” In other words, they can help clean up things on the surface, but you’ll still want to leave those really hardcore suckers to the professionals.

And one more thing to note: Be careful if you’re using any sort of pore vacuum with a retinoid or hydroxy acid, both of which make the skin more sensitive, or if you have sensitive skin. “The skin can get microscopic tears, which would cause redness and irritation,” says Dr. Talakoub.

Also, as our editor discovered when she tested out a pore vacuum for herself, the process can be very drying (which I guess makes sense considering you’re basically sucking up everything from beneath the surface of the skin), so you’ll want to follow it up with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. I, for one, will be ordering my own and going in on my pore gunk. And obviously, am giddy just thinking about it.

If you’re going to remove a blackhead without a pore vacuum, here’s how to do it. Plus, why gua-sha might be the secret key to preventing and treating them once and for all.  

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