Do Pore Vacuums Really Work? A Derm Weighs In

If there are two things the YouTube community can’t get enough of, it’s removing blackheads and testing out trendy skincare gadgets. Pore vacuums—which are exactly what they sound like—combine both of these things for a can’t-look-away tool that will leave you asking both “does that really work?” and “Do I need one?” In addition to compiling some of the most-viewed review videos the internet has to offer, we called on Dr. Anetta Reszko, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon to help understand what exactly pore vacuums are, if they accomplish what they claim, and if you really need one in your skincare routine.

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. Because pores will naturally clog again, she adds that they’re are “a temporary solution” and “should be used occasionally in conjunction with a proper skin care routine.”

How Do Pore Vacuums Work?

Unlike topical skincare products that exfoliate or dissolve the sebum, dead skin, dirt, and other impurities, pore vacuums use suction to physically extract the gunk before your eyes. (If you can stomach the YouTube videos, they’re worth seeing in action.)

Before using the pore vacuum, you’ll want to gently steam your skin either with a warm, damp towel or in the shower. (Although pores don’t technically “open” or “close,” this step helps loosen the sebum.) Then, place the pore vacuum on an area of the skin with congested pores—the nose, for example—starting on the lowest setting.

Are There Possible Side Effects of Using a Pore Vacuum?

If you watched the YouTube videos, you probably saw that some users were left with some redness—or worse. Pore vacuums are generally safe to use, but be sure to use appropriate settings depending on your skin,” says Dr. Reszko. In other words, cranking the vacuum up to the highest setting won’t necessarily extract more blackheads—but it may just leave you with your first hickey since high school.

If you have skin issues like rosacea, proceed with caution. “Some underlying skin conditions may be exacerbated by the suction from the vacuum, and it is possible to see side effects such as bruising and broken capillaries,” warns Dr. Reszko. She adds, “If you have rosacea, telangiectasias [spider veins], reactive/sensitive skin, or you bruise easily, be sure to use the low setting.” As with any product, if you experience pain, stop using the tool right away.

Pore Vacuums to Shop Now

What Are Some Other Ways to Clear Blackheads?

Your first priority should be a good cleanser, whether you make a pore vacuum part of your weekly routine or not. “I always strongly urge my patients to use a daily cleanser that is tailored to their skin type, and to incorporate an exfoliating toner that contains AHAs and BHAs,” explains Dr. Reszko. “AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid remove the superficial pore congestion, and BHAs like salicylic acid penetrate deeper into the pores and efficiently dissolve oil buildup.”

Shop These Other Pore-Clearing Products

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