I remember the first moment I realized my skin could negatively affect my life and happiness. I was eleven and visiting my dad in Florida. Puberty was just beginning: my face was oily and I was close to a B-cup. I was up late watching some dating show, and the male contestant was waxing poetic about the female contestant’s skin, “Good skin is really important to me, and she has good skin, so I would probably like to see her again.”
Little Claire was all “what the fucking shit fuck is this shit?” It had never occurred to her that her skin could prevent a dude from wanting to french her. An unjust world was quickly growing more unjust, and she didn’t even have pubic hair yet.
My mother bought one of those metal pore extractors right around that time. That shit hurt. I knew it needed to be done, but I still complained about it very loudly. My cystic acne never resulted in scars though, and it’s probably due to those torture sessions.
Fast-forward to the present and my pores almost always feel stretched with dirt and sebum.
We’ve already covered the fact that I am an incredibly oily individual. In addition to all of the grease, I also have golf ball sized pores that regularly refill themselves with whatever is lying around.
I use my Clairisonic brush religiously, and while this seems to a have helped a little, I have not noticed a magical reduction in pore size, nor do I seem to have less blackheads. The blackheads just don’t stick out of my face as far. Sometimes I get facials and those seem to help for a little, but they are expensive.
I do think aestheticians enjoy working on me though. One less than tactful lady could hardly contain her joy when she exclaimed “Your pores are HUGE. And there’s SO MUCH IN THEM.” The only sure-fire methods of blackhead removal I have found are squeezing the ever-loving fuck out of my face and expensive pore strips.
I know I shouldn’t perform DIY extractions because I will get hand juice all over my face (which will turn into more blackheads) and probably scar myself for life. I’m usually pretty good about refraining, but if I happen to catch my reflection in one of those awful magnifying mirrors (thanks hotel bathrooms!), I will squeeze and poke and prod my poor face until my already large nose has swollen to twice its normal size and I have about nine new broken capillaries. I once did this in a Brookestone in the middle of Christmas shopping.
So I just use pore strips, right?
False, I do not. Partly because I am cheap; partly because I loathe buying the same product twice. I really cannot commit to a beauty product past one bottle. The only thing I have rebought in recent memory is MAC’s Viva Glam V, and that may have been because I lost the first one. To me, re-buying the same thing takes something exciting (new shampoo with new scents and promises!) and turns into something mundane (new deodorant).
I found this wiki-how list of fun DIY pore cleanup/blackhead removal methods! There is even a quiz at the end! I did not try all 16 methods as some of them were just squeezing my face or taking a hot shower or buying cleansing milk. I opted for the methods that included toothpaste and animal bones.
1. Put glue on your face and peel it off.
I wanted to use this glue:
But I got the regular white kind. I had done this before as a child, to see what would happen. Nothing happened then and nothing really happened now.
I put it on my face. I peeled it off.
It did fuck all, but I did get some creepy pictures where it looks like I am sloughing like a snake!
2. Whip and egg white, coat your face with it, stick toilet paper on that face. Dry. Peel.
This, sadly, is another classic case of “cool pic, no results.” The toilet paper peeled off quite easily; the egg white remained plastered to my visage.
Sometimes I really feel bad for my husband.
3. Milk + The bones of animals (unflavored gelatin)!
Place a tablespoon of each in a bowl, microwave for 10 seconds. Notice an odd smell. Paint it on your face! The smell is stronger!
Claire Fact: I hate Jell-o. I hated anything that had a wiggly consistency as a child (jam, jelly beans, gummy bears) but Jell-o hatred has really stuck with me. The first time I had Jell-o was at a diabetic kid’s birthday. I vomited blue Jell-o all over the floor. Happy Birthday. Tell your mom to get a sugar-free cake next time.
This seemed like it was going to actually work. It felt like a pore strip while it was stiffening and it felt like a pore strip when I was peeling it off. But alas, my pores were left unexcavated.
4. Toothpaste + Salt
A teaspoon of the former and half a teaspoon of the latter. I mixed it up in my palm, cavalierly disregarding the instructions that CLEARLY STATED to mix the ingredients in a bowl or plate.
I’m a rebel, guys.
I smeared the mixture on my right cheek and let it sit slightly longer than five minutes, once again bucking the authoritative instructions from wiki-answers.
This stung a little, but it hurts so good. While this paste didn’t extract any blackheads, I do think it tightened my face. My cheek felt really smooth afterward so I just kept stroking it over and over. All this face stroking is probably counter-productive, but such is the life of woman-child. I would scrub my whole face with this mixture, but we are basically out of toothpaste.
5. Lime + Salt
The instructions said “equal parts” of each. By weight or volume, wiki-answers? Neither really makes any sense. By volume wouldn’t work because we are dealing with one solid and one liquid; and by weight just seems unnecessary. I just sqeezed out the juice of half a lime and saturated that with Kosher sodium chloride. I scrubbed it around on my face, let it dry, and rinsed.
This one also stung.
Again, my face looks basically the same, but it feels awesome. I think I like this scrub better than the toothpaste one, as I think toothpaste would eventually be irritating. Plus, toothpaste is kind of pricey.
It seems like nothing I do ever works, guys. Am I just bad at finding things on the internet? That lime scrub was semi-successful, but it seems that I just need to buy some pore strips. I have also recently obtained some retinol samples from my dermatologist, a kind of consolation prize after Monday’s head-wart biopsy session, so I guess I’ll start using those.
Do you guys have any tricks to unclogging pores? Don’t tell me to get a Clairisonic, I already told you I have one.
Claire sometimes live-tweets her skin biopsies. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Follow @clairelizzie