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What Are Pore Vacuums and Do They Really Work?

Should you be vacuuming your pores? Here's what a dermatologist thinks.
What Are Pore Vacuums and Do They Really Work?
ILLUSTRATOR Igi Talao
Should you be vacuuming your pores? Here's what a dermatologist thinks.

We've all seen beauty tools go viral every now and again, and one that recently went trending on TikTok is quite the intriguing one: Pore vacuums. As the name suggests, this DIY facial tool uses a suction mechanism to remove impurities from our pores. The satisfaction of seeing all the gunk come out of the skin has pushed a lot of people to try it themselves, and we don't blame them—the videos are very convincing.

With over a million likes, this Tiktok is the most popular on the #porevacuum tag on the app. Click play to see the pore vacuum in action! (Warning: Look away if you don't like extraction videos!)

As seen in this video, the device "vacuums" the skin to remove sebum, blackheads, and any excess gunk from our pores. But with every viral product, there's always a question to be asked: Is it worth using or is it just another (potentially dangerous) fad? To answer these questions, we consulted with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Francesca Sy-Alvarado of @golightlymd. Scroll ahead to know her thoughts!

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Are pore vacuums good or bad for the skin?

The short answer is that it's a little bit of both. Because according to Dr. Francesca, pore vacuum cleaners work, but like are only a temporary fix to your pore problems. "They do not address the root cause. If you're not addressing the cause of excessive oil production, you will not be successful in controlling the skin condition," she explains.

Plus, the suction turns out to be potentially harmful to the skin: "The negative pressure created by these pore vacuums may trigger breakage of small capillaries visible at the surface of the skin, leading to unwanted bruising." Ouch!

What's the difference between having your pores extracted professionally than with a pore vacuum?

Some facials done at spas and clinics may incorporate pore vacuums as part of treatments, which is why some of you might be familiar with the device. However, using it ourselves at home puts our skin at risk, because doing it incorrectly can lead to getting infections, wounds, or even acne. "If one is curious to try these, I would suggest having them done by professionals as having this done by someone with proper training ensures your safety," says Dr. Francesca.

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In general, going to beauty clinics for extractions are a better option because the procedure will be done in a sanitary environment. Doctors and aestheticians also use medical-grade devices that yield better results, and most importantly, they have the proper training to reduce the possibility of irritation.

So should you use pore vacuums?

Dr. Francesca notes that tools like pore vacuums are not the best way to unclog and minimize our pores, but it won’t hurt trying it once if you really want to—as long as you do it properly.

To avoid hurting our skin, she advises, "Doing it once a month is enough. Don't do it after chemical exfoliation and not while you’re on strong topical medication." We suggest avoiding the strongest suction setting, too, so you can limit the possibility of mishaps. Lastly, consult with a board-certified dermatologist if pore vacuuming is really for you!

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What are better alternatives to pore vacuums?

While pore size is genetic and they could not be shrunken to our liking, the derm confirms that we could improve their appearance—without using pore vacuums, at that.

"As we age, we lose collagen and elastin in our skin, which keep our skin looking taut and our pores looking tight. Damage from the sun's UV rays and oxidative stress from smoking and environmental pollution also lead to faster breakdown of collagen and elastin," she adds.

To combat these, Dr. Francesca suggests proper cleansing (try double cleansing, in case you haven't!), prioritizing sun protection with daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen, using topical vitamin C and retinoids long-term as these can stimulate production of new collagen which plumps up the skin.

Wondering what else to add to your skincare regimen? Chemical exfoliants like AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs are also effective for unclogging pores and removing dead skin. Meanwhile, skincare products with niacinamide and zinc can help in regulating the production of sebum, which makes our pores less visible. For treatments you can from your derm, Dr. Francesca recommends laser procedures, microneedling, radiofrequency, and injectable biostimulators. That said, it's best to consult with a board-certified derm to find treatment options based on your individual needs!

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Last but not the least, if you're into makeup, opting for lighter powder-based makeup vs. heavy makeup is recommended by the derm as these are less likely to settle in your pores.

To wrap everything up: Use pore vacuums at your own risk. Or better yet, leave it to the professionals to safely do it for you!

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