TikTok Is Currently Obsessed With Vacuuming Pores, But Does It Actually Work?

We asked doctors if the trend is does more harm than good..

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by Remy Farrell |

When it comes to spot popping, extractions, and, um, hoovering, there are two camps. The squeamish, convulsing to the point of retching camp, and the giddy give me more one. Belong in the latter? You're not alone - there's a huge appetite. Dermatologist Dr Sandra Lee, better known as 'Dr Pimple Popper,' began uploading her spot squeezing videos to her Youtube channel in 2015 and soon had a captivated and curiously addicted audience. Fast forward to 2021, and she's got 7 million subscribers and a hit TV show.

A divisive topic, it was only a matter of time before it blew up on social media. Indeed, searches on TikTok throw up a staggering number of spot extraction videos, and more recently, those clocking up the most hits feature a handy little tool known as a pore vacuum.

From tried and tested videos to 'vacuum fails', the visceral feed shows the vacuum used on everything from whiteheads to acne. (Curious? Check out the account 'Nose ASMR' which is dedicated to the up close and personal removal of ingrown hairs. Be warned! It gets graphic). But like many beauty trends on social media, it's best to get expert endorsement from the pros. As such, we asked them to weigh in on whether it's a waste of time, and more importantly, whether it can actually do more harm than good.

How Do Pore Vacuums Work?

Some devices have in-built thermo therapy, which is basically like a steamer, working to open up your pores. Then vibrations work to loosen blockages and encourage dirt to the surface of the skin, before a suction extractor lifts the deeply lodged impurities away. Many will have different suction strengths for different skin sensitivities or levels of blockage.

According to Dr Ana, Aesthetic Doctor at Kat & Co Skin, Laser and Cosmetic Clinic, "'In theory these are a good option for comedone prone skin, however, it is highly dependent on the delivery system. Most home use devices don’t tend to be as powerful as in-clinic options and therefore are likely to have a limited benefit. On the other hand, when a home based device is too aggressive, you run the risk of causing damage to the outermost layer of the skin which can in turn cause breakouts, dehydration, eczema/rosacea flares and potentially even scarring or post-inflammatory pigmentation".

Are Pore Vacuums Safe?

For Dr Kaywaan Khan, Medical Director at Hannah London Medispa the key to the best treatment is professional application after a consultation. "We generally advise to stay away from pore vacuums as they can damage the skin and aren't always very effective at actually extracting anything. I would advise investing in a course of hydrafacial's to reap the maximum benefits of pore extraction to give you a fresh, radiant complexion with long lasting results. This medical grade treatment can be customised to focus on your skin needs so you can improve the health and quality of what your skin. "

What Are The Alternatives To A Pore Vacuum?

Dr Ana recommends "in-clinic treatments performed by trained skin practitioners such as the hydrafacial, which utilises a similar technology to clear pores and remove skin debris". And at The Prager Clinic in West London, their popular Hydrogen Facial deep cleans pores without being invasive.

“The Prager Hydrogen Facial ‘jet cleanses’ the skin with hydrogenated water – the tip is smaller than your pore size and works deep in the dermal layers to bring high-level antioxidant protection and hydration", says clinic founder and Cosmetic Doctor Dr Michael Prager.

"This is so much better than the average pore vacuum as it combined with the infusion of pure hydrogen which has been shown to be one of the most powerful and easily absorbed anti-oxidants available. In the context of the skin, the H2 molecule binds with free radicals (O molecules) to turn them into water (H2O). The water jet blasts your pores whilst the vacuum works to remove the impurities such as dead skin cells, bacteria and environmental pollution. This dual action leaves your skin feeling clear, rejuvenated and radiant.

This vacuuming treatment is best carried out by a professional, as some general vacuuming tools can actually cause micro tears, which opens up the possibility of bacteria entering the deeper layers of skin. This can inflame pores, causing them to clog more easily which is why we use the water to both gently flush away impurities and infuse the skin with pure hydrogen for added antioxidant benefits”

So when it comes to deep pore extractions, you're better off leaving it to the professionals. But if beauty gadgets are your thing, we rounded up the best (and safest) tools whether you're a skincare buff or beauty novice.

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Best Beauty Tech, Devices and Gadgets 2022

CurrentBody Skin LED Eye Perfector, £199
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A combination of LEDs, emitted at four different wavelengths to target the delicate skin around the eye. Over time, LED has been shown to increase collagen production, plump skin and reduce fine lines (to which the eye area is particularly prone). The warm light emitted feels cosy, too.

Panasonic Portable Facial Steamer, £99.99
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It's no coincidence your skin looks more radiant after 5 minutes in a steam room; those hot clouds unclog pores and boost circulation, lending a covetable glow. The steam from this device however, is 18,000 finer, meaning it penetrates skin deeper.

The White Company Air-Purifying Scent Diffuser, £85
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Operating with both style and substance, this sleek diffuser uses a filter system that captures microscopic airborne allergens (common culprits include dust, pollen, mould and bacteria) for fresher, cleaner air. Add a couple of drops of aromatherapy oils to up the ambiance, boost your mood and curb allergy-induced sneezes.

Pietro Simone The Fierce Skin Stimulator, £229.50
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First up: this feels good. Addictively so, actually. Four rotating massagers knead the skin for a satisfyingly thorough facial workout, while you choose a red or blue light to work on the skin while you treat it. The whole experience leaves skin plump, with a newfound glow.

LYMA Laser Starter Kit, £1999
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LYMA's at-home laser is for those serious about skin: it's 25 times stronger than the average at-home laser, and the only one able to reach deep into the layers of the skin. The infrared LED light micro heats your skin cells, kickstarting them to regenerate. In short? Rejuvenated cells = fresher skin. Expect less pigmentation and irritation, a reduction in fine lines, wrinkles and breakouts.

Bodi-Tek Circulation Plus Active Foot + Leg Massager, £99
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Small electrical signals stimulate muscle contraction while boosting circulation, making legs and feet feel lighter. Ahh...

Manta Pulse, £54.95
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A battery powered massaging hairbrush, designed to be used in shower. Releasing 2-4000 pulsations per minute, choose either between the relaxing massage setting or the invigorating one. Both melt away tension while giving the scalp a thorough clean.

Therabody TheraFace Pro, £375
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The makers of cult muscle massager Theragun have utilised the same percussive therapy (that's vibrating muscles at high speed) for a face tool. In addition to the massage feature, there's LED to boost collagen production, and cryo and heat therapy to reduce inflammation and boost circulation.

Nurse Jamie Super-Cyro Massaging Orb, £36
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The benefits of cryotherapy on both the body and mind are two-fold – skin is near instantly calmed and de-puffed while your mind feels revitalised. Pop these in the freezer and run them over the contours of the face for a fresh, post-yoga glow.

PMD Clean Body, £145
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The 7,000 pulsations emitted from this 10-inch silicone body brush exfoliate, buff and polish skin, leaving it radiant and baby soft. Of the three detachable heads, there's a loofah that's infused with silver to stop bacteria collecting, an aluminum oxide exfoliator and a body massager that you can use in or out of the shower with your favourite body wash or oil.

Peep Club Heated Eye Wand, £60
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Dry, scratchy eyes? This nifty device unblocks the tiny glands that line your upper and lower lids, which in turn causes eyes to naturally rehydrate. The brand say it's like a 'hot stone massage for your eyes', and we're inclined to agree.

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