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“Don’t squeeze it!”
Chances are, that’s the advice you’ve gotten when you have a blackhead — and it’s good advice.
Blackheads are technically a kind of acne, dermatologists say. They form when a hair follicle becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells, which appear black when exposed to the air.
This type of dark-colored, pus-filled pimple doesn’t respond well to squeezing unless it’s done by an expert. In fact, you’ll probably end up with a stubborn bump that lasts longer if you try it yourself. You might even cause a scar.
So what do you do about pesky blackheads? One solution is to use a pore spatula, which is also called a skin scrubber or a face spatula.
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What’s a Pore Spatula?
A pore spatula is a skincare tool that loosens and extracts oil and dirt from your pores. They generally have a handle and a tip that’s flat like a spatula. They create vibrations that can help to loosen and remove impurities from your skin and may have different modes for deep cleaning, exfoliation and more. And they’re not too expensive; you can get one for under $20, although pricier ones exist.
“These devices utilize ultrasonic vibrations to remove stubborn impurities, often providing instantly visible evidence of their effectiveness,” says Dr. T. N. Rekha Singh, a dermatologist at Oliva Skin and Hair Clinic.
While topical skincare solutions for acne can dry out your skin, pore spatulas can provide a deep cleanse, remove blackheads and unclog pores without that side effect — but you need to be cautious about their use.
Do Pore Spatulas Work?
“When it comes to removing blackheads and enhancing overall skin texture and appearance, pore spatulas can be quite effective,” says Dr. Singh, though she does offer one caveat: “How well they work can depend on factors such as skin type, frequency of use, and other skincare products being used.”
But if you are dealing with typical blackheads and tend to have oily skin, a pore spatula used correctly can be a great boost to your skincare routine.
“In a study we conducted, users who integrated a pore spatula into their weekly skincare regimen saw a reduction in blackheads within a month,” says Sophia Tang, founder of Nako Cosmetics and Zeralabs skincare brands.
How to Use a Pore Spatula
Start by cleansing your face. Make sure your skin remains wet. Then gently glide the spatula across your skin’s problem areas for up to 15 minutes. Avoid the delicate skin around your eyes. Finally, rinse your face.
Go slow and see how your skin reacts. Dermatologists say that some people use pore spatulas too vigorously on their skin, which can thicken skin and encourage acne to form. It can also cause redness and irritation.
When starting out, do this about twice a week. Gradually you can work up to doing it every day.
“Overuse can lead to skin irritation or worsen existing conditions,” Tang says.
Should You Invest in a Pore Spatula?
Both Tang and Dr. Singh have a positive view of pore spatulas and have witnessed their effectiveness, although other dermatologists are more cautious about recommending them for home use. That said, everyone’s skincare needs are different.
For example, experts say that people who have dry skin, skin that’s extremely sensitive, or conditions like rosacea may not benefit from the more aggressive sonic action of the pore spatula. Some say that you should avoid use if you have broken capillaries in your skin. And other doctors caution that this tool has only been tested in a limited way on pregnant women, so those who are expecting should get the advice of a doctor.
“It’s important to keep in mind that pore spatulas are just one tool in a comprehensive skincare routine, and their role in achieving healthy skin should not be overestimated,” Dr. Singh says.
If you want to give a pore spatula a try, here are three solid options.
This device has a stainless steel spatula with two modes: one for unclogging oil from pores, and one for infusing them with your preferred skincare product. The gentle vibrations are a non-drying way to cleanse your skin, and this product in particular gets a lot of nods from beauty and skincare experts, including Tang.
LaBelle’s pore spatulas, with a stainless steel spatula that oscillates at 30,000 hertz, are among the most affordable on the market.
“Their pore spatulas are known for their durability, ease of use, and effectiveness,” says Dr. Singh.
Anlan’s skin scrubber uses high-frequency, blue and red LED light therapy. It also has separate modes for blackhead removal, serum infusion and face lifting. The manufacturer recommends using it straight out of the shower or after you’ve steamed your face, when your pores are most open.
Any products or services mentioned above were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.