Pore You: Banish Blackheads and Clogged Pores for Good

Regular dead skin cell maintenance  is a vital component in maintaining healthy-looking, glowing skin. Reducing dead skin cell build-up also lessens the formation blackheads, clogged pores, and other forms of acne. In addition, regular use of pore masks, BHA’s, and exfoliants can help with textural and tone issues in the skin.

At the start of September, having been slacking more than I’d care to admit in the exfoliation department, I jumped on a pore-cleansing bandwagon, whipping out some old favorites and trying some new products guaranteed to pull out blackheads by the roots and liquefy clogged pores. Over the course of the month, my skin showed some major results. All that extra attention really paid off! I learned a lot in the process and discovered a few new products worthy of incorporating into my regular routine.

Three Step Nose Packs:

Pig nose clear blackhead 3 step kit


This kit uses a 3 step process to remove those pesky nose blackheads. The first step is cleansing, the second is an actual peel-off pore strip, and the third is a hydrogel mask just for the nose area. Each step is worn for 10-15 minutes.

Step 1: It was strongly citrus scented (much like the household cleaners type of citrus) and had a cooling effect. It had a good fit, but was slippery. I had to lay down to keep it on my face.

Step 2: Remove step one, wet nose area, apply the peel-off pore strip. The adhesive side was an adorable shade of pink. It didn’t feel uncomfortable or tight as it dried. It fit only around the nose area, and adhered to all areas (no bubbles, etc).

Step 3: Slowly peel off step two. Apply the hydrogel mask. Wearing this for a full 10 minutes was hard because it smelled so bad. It was something I couldn’t quite place other than something normal skincare product mixed with industrial plastic. Bad combination, especially when it is literally surrounding your nose!


The results:

This took out blackheads in their entirety (no half a pore’s worth here), especially around nose edges where the blackhead population tends to grow the most. However, the strip only grabbed the biggest of the blackheads (the “ripe” ones most ready to come out so to speak), but not many of the medium-sized to smaller ones.

It is definitely a step up from the usual drugstore pore strips, and I love the idea of a three step approach that preps and soothes. I also was impressed with the amount of blackheads it removed from the sides of my nose-an area the larger strips tend to neglect.

In all honesty though, these are just not as good as BHA+ Elizavecca Hell-Pore Clean Up Mask combination I usually rely on. This pack maybe hit 1/2-2/3 what that combo does on my nose area.

3.5- I may buy this again in the future, but I definitely won’t be relying solely on these for blackhead management.

Ettang Peeling Soothing Mask:


This is a two step mask, featuring a mild chemical peeling gel that is followed by a soothing, moisturizing mask.

Step One: The peeling gel comes in a small, detachable packet. It gets rubbed into the face for 30 seconds, then needs to be rinsed off.

This step blew my mind. I am not kidding. Once the gel hit my face, so much, SO MUCH, dead skin and pore gunk started turning white, lifting, and balling up. I honestly wished I had filmed this step because the amount of dead skin that was coming off my face was so large, it was actually scary. I have to now revoke my love for my old holy grail product, Cure Natural Aqua Gel, in favor of this peel. That’s right. It has replaced my longest standing holy grail it is so amazingly awesome!

Since its a chemical peel, many people would expect some painful/annoying side effects. However, there was no stinging, burning, etc during application. After I rinsed off what looked to be my entire face’s worth of skin down the sink, there was a very slight hot/tightly sensation, plus my face was very faintly pink. At the ends of the day, this product is incredibly gentle for how effective this peel is. Frankly, Vitamin C hurts a lot worse.

Step 2: This mask is built to soothe, nourish, and hydrate. The mask is super generous with material, making it a very versatile fit. It reached up to my hairline, had ample under eye coverage, and there was enough material around the chin area to almost completely cover my face underneath.

The mask was also deliciously soft, which is a necessity if following a peel. Good call, Ettang!

The essence was a milky white, containing ingredients such as soothing aloe, nourishing silkworm, and protective and hydrating medowfoam extracts.  It was to be worn for 20-30 minutes, but it was still so wet after the 30 minute mark, I went ahead and wore it for another 20 min. The mask was still damp enough to wear for maybe an additional 15 minutes, but I was in (dire) need of food. That kind of wear time (and without a silicone mask sheet to help!) is amazing.

Taking the sheet mask off, my skin was unrecognizably soft and smooth. It wasn’t pink, irritated, or showing any sign of having lost so many dead cells. My face felt ridiculously clean and hydrated…on levels I don’t think I’d ever experienced before.

That sort of clean feeling is downright addictive!

1-I need this in my life, once a week, indefinitely. Holy Grail, hands down.

Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask


This product is as fun as it is effective. The smile it puts on my face every time I use it would be worth the repurchase alone, even if it didn’t reduce the appearance of my pores and bubble gunk to the surface.

It tickles like crazy as it foams up, but is a lot more comfortable to wear than my beloved Scinic All Day Fine Pore Mask. I think the bubbling “technology” that supposedly allows the clay to stay in a more nutrient-delivering state (over quickly drying up) for longer, meaning more nourishment for the skin, actually works. 

It doesn’t give that tight, clean feeling like traditional clay masks, but leaves the skin soft, moisturized, and visibly cleaner looking. A better clay mask alternative for us dry skinned folk, but honestly, any skin type could use this with great results.

2-it’s too fun not to use on a regular basis, plus I’m growing addicted to the softness and smoothness of my skin after using this.

And, in a post about pores and their maintenance, I would be committing a sin if I didn’t mention Ciracle’s Sebum Control Powder. Acne forms when dead skin cells, debris, and bacteria become trapped inside of a pore because excess sebum has essentially “glued” them together, inside the pore. When this cocktail is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black, forming a, you guessed it, blackhead. 

This powder not only has an amazing, budge-proof hold that can be a lifesaver for setting/preserving makeup (even in Florida summers!), but really helps manage oiliness (sebum) throughout the day without being drying in the slightest. This effect can help prevent the formation of acne by helping control excess sebum which may clog pores.

Regular attention to pore maintenance and dead skin removal can make an amazing difference in skin texture and appearance. A routine that incorporates exfoliation and specific pore products around 2-4 times per week will make skin healthier and give it a natural glow, no makeup required. Many of these products are really fun and unique as well; skintertainment at its best!


Banish Blackheads for Good with Elizavecca’s Hell Pore Clean Up Mask

The Elizavecca Milkypiggy Hell-Pore Clean Up Mask is an oldie but a goodie. Its essentially a liquid pore strip that you can put wherever your face might need a little pore-cleaning love. Once it dries, just peel it off and rejoice as you stare in strange fascination at the gunk its pulled out. Even though this product is no new release-its over a year on the US markets-its so effective that I want to be sure to spread the word!

This mask is supposed to help manage excess sebum, blackheads and whiteheads, and dead skin. When used over time, it can help minimize the appearance of pores (as they are kept clean and unclogged).


Water, Polyvinylpyrrolidone, Alcohol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Charcoal powder, Titanium Dioxide, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Rhus Semialata Gall Extract, Diospyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Rosa Hybrid Flower Extract, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Illicium Verum Fruit Extract, Aluminum hydroxide, Silica, Methyl acetate, Lithium Magnesium Sodium Silicate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Fragrance, Cosmos Bipinnatus Callus Culture Extract, Saccharomyces/Caragana Sinica Root Ferment Extract

Click here for the CosDNA analysis of this ingredients list.

This product has two main types of ingredients: skin moisturizers (mainly the plant extracts) and thickening agents (silica, polyvinylpyrrolidone, alcohols, etc). Please note that many people do find alcohol (and similar ingredients) to be irritating, so use with caution if you know or suspect you may have a sensitivity to said such ingredients.

Some ingredients of interest:

Charcoal is known for its absorbent properties. In skincare, it “sucks” gunk out of pores.

Titanium Dioxide is, of course, a sunscreen. Chances are it is being used for its pigmentation and/or thickening purposes in this product though.

Salicornia Herbacea Extract is also known as glasswort. This plant has potentially moisturizing properties. Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Rosa Hybrid Flower Extract, and the like are all essentially moisturizing ingredients as well.

Rhus Semialata Gall Extract is a plant found in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract is actually made from lotus flowers. They are known for whitening/brightening of the skin and (more symbolically than actually)its purification. Similar to this is the ingredient Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, or white water lilly, which is also know for its skin lightening properties.

Illicium Verum Fruit Extract is also known as anise. While it is a potent anti-acne ingredient, it is often a potential irritant.

What’s “sand” doing in here? Silica is often used in skincare products as an absorbent and thickening agent.

The last  ingredient is yeast-based, fermentation being a popular trend in Korean skincare. Rumor has it this “obsession” with Saccharomyces and Galactomyces stems from the large portion of the Korean diet that consists of fermented foods. Fermentation seems to have a positive effect internally, when ingested, so why not try it on the face? It appears to solve a large number of common skin care woes (much like snail or starfish), and almost all brands have a yeast-based ferment first essence or toner to hop on this trend.

In all honesty, this ingredients list is nothing to write home about, at least, in my opinion. Unlike a serum or daily moisturizer, where subtle blends of ingredients can make or break a product for someone’s skin (especially over time), with a product that is meant to latch onto nastiness lurking in my pores in under 20 minutes, all I care about is whether or not it does just that. Its a lot like a cleanser or a cheap sheet mask; as long as they do the job placed in front of them, I’m happy. Anything more is considered an added bonus.

The Results:

I’ve been using this product for around 8 months now, about 1-2 times per week. It works partially like a clay mask, in that it leaves your skin smooth, but free of excess sebum. I tend to need most of my facial oils (sounds so weird when put that way, doesn’t it?) as my skin is quite dry, but for oilier skin types, using this mask 2-3 times a week would definitely help manage that “oil slick” feeling. I actually recommended this product in my oily skin shopping by skin type series a while back-you all should know it works!

It also functions much like a pore strip that you would traditionally put over a wet nose and then peel off once it hardened (and then stare at the aftermath for longer than you would like to admit to yourself). When you pull it off, clogs and blackheads (and peach fuzz-oh my!) will be standing up like little soldiers much like you would find with any other sort of pore strip.

Here is the process taking place on my hand (no one needs to see the contents of my nose pores on the Internet just yet):

Tips and Tricks

While this product will pull stuff out of your pores if applied to clean dry skin, why not get the most bang for your buck (and the maximum peel-off grossness) and allow a BHA to work its magic 25 minutes or so before using this mask? It ensures that every last bit of whatever nastiness is lurking within your pores will “loosen up” so it can easily be pulled away, and pulled away in its entirety. This method is especially effective on stubborn clogs and blackheads. One and done.

This product can be pretty brutal on the more sensitive areas of your face. While it won’t actually rip out your eyebrows, it will definitely feel like it is. This product is designed to remove dirt and impurities from deep inside your pores. Upper lip peach fuzz doesn’t stand a chance to put it mildly. If you wouldn’t put a Biore nose strip on the area, then you sure as hell shouldn’t put this product there.

Ripping it off like a waxing strip of band aid doesn’t work that well from my own personal experience. If you want big chunks or a full-face portion of mask to ogle over at what just came out of your face, then speed is definitely not an option.

If you apply the mask too thin, it won’t pick up very much in the way of pore debris and be a b**** to try to get off. If you apply it too thick, you will be waiting a very, very long time for it to dry (both from personal experience everyone). The ideal medium is really the thickness of a Biore pore strip or a business envelope. You’ll want just enough product to do the job and still be able to be pulled off intact.

Redness afterwards should be expected. You just peeled something stuck to your face off of your face after all.  However, go ahead a show it a little love with a light moisturizer or sheet mask. I treat it much like waxing or shaving. If you don’t want irritation, throw on some oatmeal or snail or something.

You don’t have to put this on your entire face all at once. Sometimes just a nose, chin, or T-zone application is all you need. This product is harsh so don’t fix what isn’t broken (its a, um, peel-off mask, so… yeah). You may being saying “well, duh,” but you would be surprised how many people see the videos and ads for this product, featuring full-face masking, and think that that is how they have to use it each and every time. Think outside the box, or tube, in this case.

At around 12 $ for a whole tube of this stuff, it puts traditional pore strips (which around here cost about 12$ for a package of 8) to shame. It is not only slightly more effective, but much more versatile, not to mention so much cheaper. Even though I have dry skin, this product keeps my skin smooth and clog free (they’re bound to happen when you use 20,000 moisturizers a day just to stay flake-free). However, knowing so many people who use this (or perhaps I may have made them use it and gotten them hooked for life like some sort of K-beauty crack dealer) on their not only oily, but acne-prone skin. Its pulled out stubborn blackheads and clogs that they had been trying to remove for weeks, months even, in just under 45 minutes. A quick session with a BHA of choice to loosen up the gunk, and then the attack from the Hell Pore Clean Up Mask, gets their skin into a much smoother, clearer state after just one or two uses.

Rating: 2.5-I have major doubts if I will ever find anything more grossly satisfying…

Rating Scale:

1:Holy Snails! Its a Holy Grail!

2:Current-routine worthy (would buy again unless I found something better)

3:Meh, it was worth a try

4:Bleh, this was terrible. Don’t buy this. Ever.

So that’s it for me, singing its wonderful, peely praises. Have you ever tried this product before? Would you want to?


September Buy-and-Trys

The month has just begun, and all that fresh, new energy that comes with the start of a new month has me feeling inspired and ready to deep clean…my pores, that is. This month is all about “out with the old, and in with the new,” featuring some new products to refresh and renew the skin, focusing on clearing out and minimizing pores.

Holika Holika Pig Nose Clear Blackhead 3 step Nose Clearing Kit: I’ve been doing my own version of these three step kits for awhile now: prepping my skin with a mild BHA to “loosen” things up, applying a peel-off pore strip or mask, and then soothing my skin with something snail-related. I can’t wait to compare results with an official version of this. From what I’ve heard, people only say good things about the effectiveness of these kits.

Ettang Peeling  Soothing Mask: This two step sheet mask first peels, then soothes. A mild chemical peel followed by a specially formulated sheet mask? In the comfort of my own home? While watching Netflix? Yes, please.

Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask: I have been dying to try one of these bubbling masks after seeing all of the videos on Youtube. They look like so much fun, and also seem a lot more comfortable and more efficient at delivering all of the benefits of clay than traditional, quick-drying clay masks. I may die laughing though…note to self: don’t look at the mirror while doing this πŸ™‚

Ramosu Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate 100 (3 bottle set): I’m a sucker for a good k-beauty sale, and well, when this product I’ve been eyeing for awhile came down to a steal price, I bit the bullet and finally bought it. It comes in a set of three bottles along with dropper. Galactomyces ferment is a type of yeast (yes, like brewers use). It supposedly is good for evening tone, smoothing skin texture, and promoting/maintaining youthful, glowing skin. I am 100% okay with any of those things happening on my face.

And, no, it doesn’t seem to smell like yeast. At all.

Lastly, I didn’t buy this, but I would like to try something new on the blog. I was thinking that all through the month, people could send me links to a few of their favorite posts (their own personal posts and/or others’ posts they absolutely loved) and then I would round up maybe a top 5 or 10 in the Septmember Favorites post at the end of the month (depending on how many were sent) so those posts could reach out to more people and get closer to the exposure they deserve. I’d also tweet them, etc. 

Would anyone be down for doing this or doing this with me? If you are, let me know in the comments below and/or get to dropping the links! It’ll be open all month long. I honestly love each and everyone of my followers and just really want to pay each and everyone’s awesomeness foward! If it’s too cheesy though, just comment a cheese emoji or something and let me down easy, okay?

I am honestly so excited to try all of these new products and whip my pores in to a squeaky-clean state! And, uh, not to mention this potential new blog feature each month!! Do you have anything special you’re trying this month, products, blogging, or otherwise? Share in the comments below πŸ™‚

Here’s to having the best month so far of the year! And I’m looking forward to reading those links! πŸ’•