17 Best Pore Vacuum Devices 2023 - Pore Vacuum Review

And we even asked an expert derm for their thoughts too.

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17 Best Pore Vacuum Devices 2023 - Pore Vacuum Review

Part of my job as Cosmo's beauty editor is to test every skincare device and tool that comes across my desk or social feeds. LED masks? I've legit tried them all. Microdermabrasion devices? I've got thoughts. DIY microcurrent devices? Oh yeah, I've got one of these too. So when I saw that pore vacuums were going viral on TikTok and became the “it” blackhead remover device on social media, I absolutely had to do some investigating and testing for myself.

Low key, I had some prior skepticism about pore vacuums after former Cosmo deputy beauty director Chloe Metzger chatted with dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD, and tried one for herself. Her results were, uh, interesting at best (see below). But I still decided to find out for myself if pore vacuums actually work to unclog pores, or if it’s all a big internet scheme. Keep scrolling for all the details you ever wanted to know about pore vacuums (including how they work and if they’re safe), along with two editors’ experiences testing the top-rated pore vacuums on the market.

✔️ FYI: We updated this article in August 2023 to give you the most up-to-date info on pore vacuums, including a new one our editors tried and loved, a dermatologist’s take on blackhead removers, and how to choose the best pore vacuum for yourself.

"I've tested lots of traditional pore vacuums in my day, and this is, by far, my favorite. And not shockingly, it's def the bougiest too. It works similarly to an in-office Hydrafacial, tbh. The tip has a slight suction that helps suck out some of the gunk from my pores, while also letting out a fine mist with the included concentrate, which is filled with exfoliating salicylic acid to help deeply clean my pores chemically. I just run the tool over my nose once or twice a week to help get rid of blackheads and clogged pores, following with a lightweight moisturizer for acne-prone skin," —Beth Gillette, beauty editor

"After I first was bombarded by TikToks of people sucking major grime out of their pores, I did a deep Amazon search for the best pore vacuum and came across this one. Upon first try, the suction took some getting used to—yup, I have hickeys on my face to prove it—but once I figured out that I needed to use a lighter pressure, I started extracting a few blackheads that were ready to come the heck out. TBH, I'd say most inexpensive pore vacuums are generally the same, but I loved that this came with five attachment heads and a set of blackhead extractor tools,"—BG

So the general idea of a pore vacuum is exactly what it sounds like: It “vacuums” your pores, suctioning out all your blackheads, ooey-gooey grossness, secrets, soul, etc. You just turn on the device, stick the circular tip on your skin, then slowly slide it over your pores, watching the junk get abducted from your pores like a dreamy nightmare. At least, that's what pore vacuums are supposed to do in theory.

You've also got other types of pore cleaners, like pore scrapers (little vibrating spatulas that are supposed to help "loosen" grime from your pores while you gently scrape your nose), or microdermabrasion vacuums that exfoliate and vacuum at the same time. But pore vacuums are, by far, the most popular tool you've been seeing on the interwebs recently—especially the vacuums with cameras attached.

Here’s the thing: My skin is incredibly sensitive—like, so sensitive that I’ve gotten broken blood vessels from sneezing before—which meant there was no way in actual hell that I was sticking a suctioning device to my face, especially after seeing how strongly it sucked up the skin from the back of my hand (see video evidence below).

Instead, I decided to test it out on my v nice and sweet boyfriend, whose blackhead-speckled nose has been the bane of my existence for six years and will eventually lead to our inevitable breakup in 2045. No, he was not very excited, and yes, we mostly just argued in the bathroom at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night.

To prepare your face for pore vacuuming, you want to make sure your skin is soft and ~malleable~ before attempting to extract anything. “The loosening of debris in your pores with some steam or a shower is a good first step before extractions,” says Dr. Akhavan.

Seeing as my boyfriend refused to hop in the shower or even willingly participate, I settled for holding a warm washcloth over his nose for five minutes to help soften the top layer of his skin (not, mind you, to “open” his pores, which is fully a myth. “You can’t ‘open’ or ‘close’ your pores,” says Dr. Akhavan. “That’s not how they work.” Sry).

Although every device is a little different, my (now-discontinued, womp) vacuum has five levels of suctioning intensity, ranging from a butterfly kiss (level one) to a high-school hickey suck (level five). The instructions warn against keeping the suction in one place for more than three seconds, so starting on level two, I gently moved the vacuum along the sides and creases of le boyfriend’s nose, waiting for all the junk to be catapulted from his pores.

Aaaaand nothing happened. So I cranked it up to level three—which prompted some R-rated cursing from my patient—and watched as one tiny, itty-bitty sliver of white goo was sucked out and up from his pores. It was freaking magical. Truly, a rush. Inspired, I continued suctioning his nose, going back and forth over each spot and trying level four for one millisecond (it almost ended our relationship).

Despite spending a good five minutes suctioning the shit out of his nose, I managed to extract only three blackheads by the end. That’s it. In a sea of darkness, we barely made a dent. And it wasn’t for lack of intensity either—at one point, the tool was so tightly stuck to his skin (on level two! The baby level!) that when I tried to lift it from his nose, it traveled down to his mouth, sucking up his lip as I tried to pry it off.

We eventually admitted defeat—or more accurately, my boyfriend stood up and declared, “I’m out; I’m done,” before leaving the room. His nose was red, there was a bright-red line from his nose to his lip where we had lost control, and his pores looked exactly the same. Thankfully, the redness dissipated after 45 minutes, but my DEEP, HEART-WRENCHING disappointment of a failed experiment has yet to fade. Which brings me to the question/answer we’re all waiting for:

Do pore vacuums really work?

Yes, pore vacuums really do “work” to some degree…but not on everyone and not as effectively as you’re hoping. Like, those super-satisfying videos you see all over TikTok and Instagram? That’s not the norm—sadly. At most, you’ll probably see only a few little squiggles of gunk come out of your pores, maybe even one big satisfying one, but that’s about it.

And even then, you’re not actually vacuuming out your pores—you’re just removing some gunk from the opening of your pores.“What you’re really doing with a pore vacuum is very superficially removing any dead skin, makeup, and oils from the surface of your pores, which you can also do by cleansing very well,” says Dr. Akhavan.

Which, sure, this might make your pores look smaller, but those semi-empty pores will just fill back up within a few days—if not sooner if you're oil-prone. “Your pores don’t close up once you remove the debris from them,” says Dr. Akhavan. “They continue to stay open and fill back up, which means at best, you’re seeing a very temporary fix and some psychological satisfaction.”

Dermatologists don't really recommend pore vacuums, tbh. “The biggest side effect you’re likely to see from pore vacuums is bruising and broken capillaries,” says Dr. Akhavan. As someone who gets broken blood vessels so freakin’ easily, there’s no way I was about to test this on my ultra-sensitive baby face and risk getting permanent side effects (only a laser can remove broken capillaries).

Is it going to destroy your face if you have ~regular~ skin (i.e., no rosacea, keratosis pilaris, or major sensitivity)? Most likely no; you’ll probably be fine. But if you’re hoping to make it a regular part of your skincare routine, I’d be cautious. Suctioning your skin is inherently irritating and will never produce the same results as using actual tried-and-true pore clearers and blackhead treatments (like salicylic acid! Or retinoids! Or both! Yum yum yum!).

Sure, a pore vacuum might help loosen up some blackheads and clogged pores that are right at the surface of your skin and ready to be extracted, but don't expect miracles. Honestly, dermatologists aren't the biggest fan of pore vacuums because they can be slightly irritating, especially if you have sensitive skin. But you do you, but just know that if you do try to suck out your own (or significant other's) nose blackheads, it might result in a fight/unforgivable resentment. You have been warned.

Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan with five years of experience researching, writing, and editing skincare stories that range from scalp-acne shampoos to butt acne. She’s an authority in all skincare categories, but is an expert when it comes to pore vacuums, thanks to regularly testing new iterations and brands as they launch.

Chloe Metzger was the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan with nearly 10 years of experience writing about hair, makeup, nails, and skincare, with stories like the hydrocolloid patches, slugging, and homemade face masks. She's tested hundreds of blackhead removers and tools over her career that helped her write this story, plus researched the heck out of pore vacuums (including testing one on her very-generous boyfriend).

Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, overseeing the editorial content and growth strategy of the hair, makeup, and skin space on digital, while also obsessively writing about the best hair products for every hair type (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare routines that really, truly work (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life). She brings nearly a decade of writing and editing expertise, and her work has appeared in Allure, Health, Fitness, Marie Claire, StyleCaster, and Parents. She also has an unhealthy adoration for Tom Hanks and would like to please meet him one day, if you could arrange that. Thanks.

Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers skincare, makeup, hair, nails, and more across digital and print. She can generally be found in bright eyeshadow furiously typing her latest feature or hemming and hawing about a new product you "have to try." Prior to Cosmopolitan, she wrote and edited beauty content as an Editor at The Everygirl for four years. Follow her on Instagram for makeup selfies and a new hair 'do every few months. 

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17 Best Pore Vacuum Devices 2023 - Pore Vacuum Review

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