Pore strips are a sort of pseudo-guilty beauty pleasure. The deep, almost perverse, satisfaction-slash-disgust that you get from looking at your used, gunked-filled pore strip is so wonderful, it’s almost guilt-inducing. And, for a long time, the cult-classic Biore strips were the only game in town when it came to getting your weekly peel-off fix. But thanks to an influx of beauty products from the pore-passionate Korean skincare scene, the internet is now filled with new—and sometimes bizarre—innovations for all you pore-strip aficionados. And because we care about your pores, we found the very best and most-effective strips to fulfill all of your guilty pleasures. But before we let you loose, we must first give you a little biology lesson that is about to destroy your whole brain: The mountains of gunk sitting on your pore strip aren’t actually blackheads.
We know; your whole life is a lie. Those little yellow spikes you spent hours eradicating in high school are, for most people, just sebaceous filaments—accumulations of your skin’s natural oil in the tiny hair follicles all over your face. Sure, they look like blackheads and act like blackheads, but unlike blackheads, which are caused by oxidized oil and dead skin cells in your pores, sebaceous filaments are just a natural part of how your skin works. Which means that they should, ideally, be left alone.
But if the smattering of dots on your nose is something you just can’t deal with, pore strips can be a good, albeit temporary, solution (those filaments are genetic, so they’re just going to keep coming back after each strip). If you are planning to add strips into your weekly routine, make them more effective by exfoliating the skin, first. “Gently removing dead cells from the skin’s surface may actually help make pore strips work better,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. “Just make sure not to overdo it, because over-exfoliating may increase your risk for irritation.”
Alright—you may now return to your regularly scheduled, pore-obsessed reading. We wish your sebaceous filaments well, and may they RIP.
Skinfood Egg White Peel-Off Pack
Since your T-zone tends to produce more oil than the rest of your face, clogged pores tend to be more noticeable on your forehead, nose, and chin...which is a lot of skin to cover with a nose strip. So Skinfood solved the dilemma with a set of three pore strips: a classic one for the nose, and triangular ones for the chin, and another for that tricky spot between your brows.
Skinfood Egg White Peel-Off Pack, $7; at Ulta
Tony Moly Runaway Strawberry Seeds 3-Step Nose Pack
Three-step pore strips aren’t the norm on American drugstore shelves, but the product trifecta—which typically includes an exfoliator, a pore strip, and a moisturizer—is huge in K-beauty. This one from cult-favorite brand Tony Moly is infused with a fruity jolt of strawberry that makes the whole pore-expunging process feel indulgent, rather than clinical.
Tony Moly Runaway Strawberry Seeds 3-Step Nose Pack, $4; at Tony Moly
Skinmiso Pore Beauty Nose Pack
For the truly dedicated, we bring you a Costco-worthy supply of pore cleansers. Skinmiso’s system comes with ten exfoliating treatments, ten strips, and a tube of oil-controlling essence that works to prevent buildup, all of which is enough to get you through ten weeks of fun. But lest you be tempted to use one each day (zomg, such clean pores by day 10, right!? Wrong), know that using more than one strip a week can leave your skin seriously raw and irritated, which can cause damage to your pores.
Skinmiso Pore Beauty Nose Pack, $22; at Soko Glam
Benefit The Porefessional Instant Wipeout Masks
And here, we see the result of what would happen if a sheet mask and a pore strip had a baby. Since the strip was designed to be used in all problem areas, it fits as comfortably over the nose as it does on the chin or forehead. And because each strip is pre-soaked in a mushroom-extract-infused serum, they won’t dry out on your face. After leaving one on your skin for ten minutes, peel it off, flip it over, and use nubby side to gently exfoliate your pores before rinsing.
Benefit The Porefessional Instant Wipeout Masks, $32; at Benefit Cosmetics
Holika Holika Pig Nose Clear Blackhead 3-Step Kit
We’re honestly not sure what K-beauty has against pig noses (a surprising number of pore purifiers refer to gunked-up noses as “snouts”), but we can guarantee there won’t be anything porcine about yours after this three-strip pack, which is formulated with sugar cane extract, witch hazel, and peppermint extract to gently exfoliate and clear pores.
Holika Holika Pig Nose Clear Blackhead 3-Step Kit, $3; at Peach and Lily
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Nose Pack
Fun fact: Volcanic ash is an age-old ingredient used to draw impurities from the skin. And the volcanic ash in these strips is no different. Each pore strip is packed with ash originating from Korea’s Jeju island (which is essentially a magical skincare wonderland where every fancy, beautifying ingredient you could ever hope for exists), so they gently, yet effectively, pull dirt and oil from your pores.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Nose Pack, $6; at Glow Recipe
Secret-A Gold Nose 3-Step Story
The sad news first: This pore strip isn’t actually made of gold. But by the time you’re done with this kit, which includes an exfoliator, a strip, and a hydrating mask, your skin will be so glowy that you won’t even be mad about the lack of gild.
Secret-A Gold Nose 3-Step Story, $3; at Memebox
Boscia Pore Purifying Black Strips
Charcoal has had such a moment these last few years that we hardly need to tell you how its craggy molecular structure draws dirt and oil out like a magnet, making it perfect for pore-clearing applications. As an added bonus, the inky shade of these strips is perfect for ultra-chic pore strip selfies, Spa Day Batman cosplays, or anyone who finds blue jeans to be too colorful.
Boscia Pore Purifying Black Strips, $28; at Boscia