"Anything in the name of beauty," I vowed when starting out as a beauty journalist. "I will do anything (except shave my head) in the name of beauty." This came in a bid for that teacher's pet status (bc, yes, even in the corporate world, this Gen Z girlie is a work-abiding citizen), obvi. However, recently, that bold statement came back to haunt me when uploading pictures and videos of my pores being sucked to the high heavens, revealing the gunk, makeup, dirt and oil embedded deep within the crevices of my nose... Lovely. Well, if you're not put off by that – or, like me, are also deeply troubled with a guilty pleasure of watching pimple popping and pore extraction videos – then let me tell you a little bit about how I got here. 'Twas a journey.
Beauty history is full of less-than-conventional methods; from vintage hair tools to skincare ingredients that dermatologists would now probably turn their noses up at, we've come a long way in developing methods, techniques and above all, product innovation.
The latter, including technological advancements such as chemical peels, laser facials et al, have been used to treat skin conditions with the aim of a clear and flawless complexion. And that, my friends, brought me to my latest 'trend on trial': pore vacuums.
While I do suffer from the occasional hormonal acne breakout, my main skincare concern lies with my oily skin type. And with such an oily skin type, comes blotting and cleansing a plenty. Alas, inevitably, clogged pores, blackheads and whiteheads can and do occur, leading me to branch out into the world of pore extraction – and more specifically, FOREO's KIWI device.
So, as you may have guessed, I not only put this pore vacuum to the test, but I also documented my findings in both written and picture form (please accept my apologies for the upcoming horrifying graphics) as well as seeking advice from professional aesthetics doctor and pharmacist, Dr. Christine Hall. Keep reading to see how I go on with le hoover...
What do pore vacuums do?
As mentioned, pore vacuums are, quite literally, suction devices that work to pull the collection of dirt, debris and oil out of your pores. Similarly, if you've had an in-clinic Hydrafacial, you'll know that the best and most satisfying stage is the extraction where a vortex vacuum sucks out the gunk into a flask. Yum.
And just like that, these at-home vacuum devices do the same as well as remove blackheads. Having said that, Dr Hall clarifies that they may not be able to remove "those that are deeper or more stubborn – this is where professional manual extraction may need to come in."
Is using a pore vacuum a permanent fix for clearing pores?
With that in mind, pore vacuums are "not a permanent fix," Dr Hall says. "The vacuum removes a lot of what is in the pores (if not all of it) but this doesn’t change the underlying process which causes the build-up of impurities in the first place – excess oil and sebum production, exposure to the outside, makeup and skincare products."
What is the long-term solution to clearing pores and blackheads?
Unfortunately, there isn't a one-off treatment or solution that will stop the build-up of congestion in your pores forever. For the best results, pore vacuums should be paired with other ingredients or treatments.
But as Dr Hall tells me, it's also important not to confuse blocked pores with pore size. "The size of your pores is genetically determined and you cannot change their size. What you can do is clear them out or use treatments that will help to stimulate the collagen around your pores which in turn make them appear smaller.
"Exfoliation is a key step to reducing the build-up of debris in pores and clearing them out and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and salicylic acid in particular. Unlike AHAs, salicylic acid is oil soluble and so it penetrates deep into the pores melting away the oil," explains Dr Hall.
Are there any negatives to using a pore vacuum?
Per Dr Hall's recommendation, you should always exercise with some caution when it comes to pore vacuums. "You can cause harm such as bruising to the skin or broken capillaries if they are not used properly – i.e. the settings are too high or you get tempted to hold them still over one place for too long.
"It's also worth noting that those with darker skin tones can be more prone to scarring when the above occurs."
To prevent this, ensure that instructions are followed, keep the device itself clean and sterile and test it on your arm to select the setting before going in on your face.
Can you use a pore vacuum on acne/pimples?
Those who will get the best results from a pore vacuum will have congested skin, aka blocked pores, oiliness and enlarged pores but not active acne. "If you have active acne or pimples there is a risk of you worsening the situation and spreading any infection around," Dr Hall shares. So, never try to extract a pimple with a pore vacuum!
How to use a pore vacuum
First things first, make sure that the skin is well-cleansed before starting the treatment. After cleansing, it's best to use the pore vacuum before applying any additional skincare products such as moisturiser as this may create a barrier between the device and pores.
Prepping the skin in the lead-up to the treatment with a beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) will also help to melt away the debris in the pores.
My thoughts on the FOREO KIWI
After prepping my skin per the above, I tested out the suction power of the KIWI on my hand. To my surprise, it was "very sucky" – just like the shiny metal tubes in Buddy the Elf's mailroom... IYKYK.
Starting off on a medium power, I placed the device on my nose. At first, I let it sit for a few seconds, then pulled it off of the skin. Then, once I got to grips with the device's best use, I was able to move around the nozzle without breaking contact with my skin; just as one would when motioning back and forth with a hoover on the carpet.
Admittedly, I didn't expect much – if anything at all – I mean, I'm sure we've all seen those miracle-working 'before and after' videos on TikTok that are completely staged and out-right fake *rolls eyes*. But after just one or two of minutes use, I pulled the device away from my honker to reveal a sight that'll be ingrained in my memory (and now yours, too) for the foreseeable. Please, do prepare yourselves.
As a beauty professional, I am somewhat ashamed. Though, I disclaim that I really do cleanse my skin daily! I guess I must have extra high sebum production, natch.
Low key though, I'm obsessed.
While I do highly recommend this for the curious bbs among us, at just under £150, it is an investment and for a non-essential skincare product, too. In my case, this would be a breaking-the-bank type investment, so, unless you've saved up some coin or have put this on your birthday/Christmas wishlist, you could always consider other options.
I'm sure you're all aware but the FOREO KIWI is not the only pore-extracting device out there on the market. So, if you've got a smaller budget to work with see a few of our other recs below.
With that, I bid you a farewell and happy hoovering! Noo-Noo could never.
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