What are blackheads and what causes them?
Everyone has seen or heard of blackheads. They are the visually unappealing, tiny dark dots on our faces which are the source of annoyance and insecurity for almost all of us, and resisting the temptation to pop them takes a lot of self-control. But what are they really and what causes them to appear on our faces?
Blackheads (or, as the professionals call it, open comedones, as opposed to the whiteheads, closed comedones) are essentially nothing but clogged pores. Our bodies produce a natural oil called sebum to keep our skin soft and moisturized. This oil typically leaves the pores naturally without causing any trouble and overly stripping our faces of this oil is actually harmful to the skin. But sometimes, there is a barrier that prevents the oil from leaving the pore. Dead skin cells, dirt, or other physical barriers keep the sebum trapped inside and the pore gets clogged, forming a bump on the skin surface. Air exposure then oxidizes it and causes it to turn black. And just like that, a blackhead is born.
There are many factors that contribute to the formation of blackheads. Bacterial overgrowth, increased oil production due to hormonal changes, dryness, irritation, or a layer of dead skin cells blocking the pores, all of those can be the cause of blackheads.
What is a blackhead vacuum?
A blackhead vacuum or blackhead sucker is a device that is meant to be positioned over the blackhead and then, using mild air suction, extract the blackhead and the excess sebum from the pore. It essentially works just like the good old manual blackhead popping, just without the picking on the skin with our fingers and nails.
If you are interested in trying one, there are many on the market for you to try nowadays. But pick carefully! Not all of them are safe to use, not everyone’s skin is suitable for using them, and there is no guarantee that they will work for you. If your pores are clogged not only on the surface but also deep inside, the suction most vacuums provide won’t rid you of all of your excess sebum. But your blackhead vacuum should not be too powerful either, or you are in for some serious skin damage. Most blackhead vacuums do have multiple suction intensity settings for that reason.
Best Blackhead Vacuum Tools To Use
Best for Beginners: Lufei Blackhead Remover Pore Vacuum
The Lufei blackhead vacuum boasts a completely waterproof body and possibly very strong suction. It can be used wireless, charged through USB, and comes with four different heads and in three different power settings. It also features an LCD display where you can check the settings, operation time, and battery status.
It is a good choice for someone wanting to try a blackhead vacuum for the first time and does not have too many requirements for the product.
- LCD display
- Easy to use for beginners
- Fast USB charging
POPPYO Blackhead Remover Pore Vacuum
This blackhead vacuum uses an innovative German hot-and-cold technology to help with the pore extraction. Hot compress at 45°C helps open and relax the pores, making the suction easier. After you’re done, the cold compress (18°C) works to close, tighten, and shrink the pores to its original state of being. This technology promises to minimize damage and maximize effectiveness. Another cool feature of this blackhead remover is a built-in beauty lamp with 3 different lights for different skin concerns.
The Lanccona Blackhead Remover also comes five different suction intensity levels and with 10 replaceable heads, although it is actually only 5 different heads (big, medium, small, silicone, and oval), each of them included twice in the package.
- Built in rechargeable batteries that can last over 150 minutes on a single charge.
- Powerful suction that can also help remove acne, exfoliate dead skin and promote skin rejuvenation.
- 5 Adjustable suction level for all kinds of skin condition.
Yoii Blackhead Remover
The Yoji Blackhead Remover is a stylish-looking, functional device that combines pore extraction with microdermabrasion (=physical exfoliation, mechanically removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin). According to the product description, “it utilizes more than 100 thousand natural mineral crystallite particles with vacuum suction and ultrasonic massage” to remove the outer layer of dead skin and blackheads.
It comes with six different probes, each for a different purpose (suction, skin polishing, massage, etc.), and three power settings.
- Microdermabrasion feature
- Cute design
- Ultrasonic massage
- 6 different probes serving different purposes
Best Premium Blackhead Vaccum: Trophy Skin RejuvadermMD Microdermabrasion System
Another product promising a spa-like experience, the Trophy Skin RejuvadermMD Microdermabrasion System is supposed to have first and foremost anti-aging properties. Its technology promises to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, age or liver spots, acne scars, and sun damage to the skin. On top of that, it also uses a combination of a diamond tip exfoliator and a motor vacuum to deep clean your pores and leaves your skin smooth and glowing.
It comes with four different replaceable diamond tips and the manufacturer guarantees a smoother, more youthful, glowing skin in just 60 days of using this product.
- Spa-grade beauty device, that will promote healthy skin by restoring cell activity and replenishing nutrients.
- Also works as a anti-aging tool, that can quickly and effectively reduce and remove wrinkles, fine lines and more.
- Inbuilt microdermabrasion feature
- This product is considered premium and is the most expensive vacuum on the list.
Panasonic Electric Pore Cleanser
The uniqueness of the Panasonic Electric Pore Cleanser lies in its mist function. While applying suction, it also emits mist that is supposed to help the vacuum attachment to stay sealed tightly to your skin and move smoothly on it while enhancing the suction power. Apart from removing blackheads and whiteheads, this device is also supposed to help improve the tone of your skin.
This pore cleanser is rechargeable and fully waterproof, so it can be used in the shower. On the downside, it only seems to come at one intensity and with a one-size probe.
- Mist emission feature
- 1 intensity level
- 1 suction head size
- Not widely available everywhere
Microderm GLO Mini Diamond Microdermabrasion And Suction Tool
The GLO Mini is more of a high-end product that, apart from sucking the gunk out of your pores, promises a whole bunch of other benefits — microdermabrasion, acne scar reduction, brightening, improving the tone and texture of your skin, and even reducing wrinkles and fine lines. It is designed to provide you with a salon-quality experience at home. To achieve that, it uses a combination of diamond exfoliation and smooth suction technology.
It comes with two different sizes of diamond heads and two suction heads, it claims to be recommended by dermatologists, and it promises a smooth and gentle exfoliation and blackhead extraction without any possible damage. It also seems to get overwhelmingly positive reviews and praise from happy customers worldwide.
- Luxurious experience
- Microdermabrasion feature
- Positive customer reviews
- Not likely to cause skin damage
- Only 2 suction head sizes
Xikeo Blackhead Remover
When it comes to the settings and accessories, the Xikeo Blackhead Remover is fairly similar to other products reviewed in this article. It has five levels of intensity and four different detachable suction heads. What makes it different though is the built-in red/blue light technology.
There is another head called “beauty head” in the package that is designed to treat your skin with red and blue light. Red light is meant to rejuvenate the skin while the blue light helps to close your pores after you’re done with their cleaning. The Xikeo blackheads remover is made from eco-friendly, non-toxic materials and it is USB-rechargeable.
- Red light/Blue light rejuvenation technology
- Beauty head included
DermaSuction Facial Pore Vacuum
This product is on the cheaper side of the blackhead vacuum spectrum and it includes four different heads — small, large, oval, and sonic one for skin exfoliation and rejuvenation. It seems to provide what its “suck the yuck out of your pores” promises, but it there have been reports of bruises and hockey. It works best for people with very oily skin and those of us with dry, sensitive skin might want to pass on this one.
- Easy to use
- Sonic head included
- Reports of skin damage
- Only two power settings
Urbaobei Vacuum Blackhead Remover
Similarly to the Lanccona Blackhead Remover, this product also uses a built-in hot compress tool at 45°C to soften the skin, open the pores, and prepare them for extraction, which should make the vacuuming itself easier and leave your skin without any red patches when you’re finished. Unlike Lanccona, the Uraobei Vacuum does not include cold compress, but it does include other interesting features.
The Uraobei Vacuum Blackhead Remover comes with an LCD display, three different suction force intensity levels, and five different replaceable heads.
- LCD display
- Hot compress
- Five heads
- Does not include cold compress to shrink the pores after cleaning
Coofo Rechargeable Blackhead Removal Tool
This is one of the cheapest and most well-known blackhead vacuum tools available on the market today. Like most of the other pore vacuums, it receives mixed reviews from customers, ranging from people who love it to people threatening lawsuits to the company.
The Coofo Blackhead Removal Tool is quite simple and similar to many other already described products. It has four levels of suction power, each one recommended to a different skin type, and four different detachable suction heads. It is not recommended to use this on scar tissue or flimsy skin. The Coofo tool is fully rechargeable and it is not waterproof.
- Easy to use
- Reports of skin damage
- Not waterproof
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Does a blackhead vacuum tool work?
Yes, but there is a catch to it. Because the way it works is basically a very similar mechanism to the traditional manual extraction, aka popping the blackhead with your hands or other tools, it does, for most people, pull the sebum out. It may even work a bit better because when squeezing the skin around the blackhead from the sides, you might unwantedly push some the sebum even deeper into the pore, while with the vacuum, you only have the force coming from above, pulling the oil out.
If your pores are clogged to large depth though, the mild suction the vacuum provides will most likely not be enough to pull everything out, and using strong suction levels can damage your skin. For deeply clogged pores, it is always best to visit a specialist instead of trying at-home methods. Pick the best blackhead vacuum according to your skin type.
Is it safe?
Safety is a big concern when it comes to blackhead vacuums, and it is for a good reason. There are many videos on the internet of kids that used these things with the intention of clearing their pores or to get rid of pimples and ended up with broken skin or huge nasty hickeys while their zits didn’t disappear at all.
Some of these devices, especially those that are suspiciously cheap and bought off of sketchy websites, are way too powerful for us to be able to use them safely. Using a pore vacuum with the very powerful strength of suction may result in pore damage, redness, dry skin, it can damage your capillaries and create what is known as “spider veins”, or give you a bruise that looks bad enough to make people think you got a hickey from a vampire.
Many of the available products come with multiple different settings for different skin types and although it might be tempting to use a bit more power, you should definitely stick to the recommended setting to stay safe and bruise-free. To use a pore vacuum effectively and safely, use it according to the how-to guide, gently, and not too often.
How to prep your skin for a blackhead vacuum?
To help your blackhead vacuum work as effectively as possible, it is important to prep the skin through exfoliation. Exfoliation means the dissolution and removal of the dead skin cell layer on your face, which helps unclog your pores, loosen up the sebum within them, and make it easy for the vacuum to suck all of the sebum out.
Some of the blackhead vacuum products double as exfoliators, especially the pricier, more luxurious, spa-like products such as the Microderm GLO Mini or the Trophy Skin RejuvadermMD which both use diamond tips for microdermabrasion, which is basically physical exfoliation. When using tools similar to these, do not exfoliate before. Overexfoliation is as bad for the skin as no exfoliation and it would possibly leave your skin irritated and sensitive.
If you are going with a cheaper pore vacuum that does not include an exfoliator, there are many cosmetic products meant for exfoliation to choose from. Some ingredients to look for that are good chemical exfoliating agents are AHA’s (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA’s (beta-hydroxy acids) such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid.
Heat is also another way to loosen up pores and prepare your skin for the vacuum. For that, you can use a face steamer, a hot towel tapped gently on your face before using the vacuum, or, if your vacuum tool is waterproof, you can use it while enjoying a hot shower.
How to use the pore vacuum?
Using a blackhead vacuum is very easy and intuitive. After you have washed, prepped, and exfoliated your face, start the machine, set it to the required suction strength level according to your skin type, then put its tip on your skin and softly glide it over your face for a time period that should be mentioned in the product description.
Do not get tempted to use a more powerful setting than recommended or to leave the vacuum on one spot for longer than recommended, or you might be in for some trouble. The way to use a pore vacuum to ensure the best possible results is to loosen up the pores and prepare them for the extraction first, and then use the blackhead vacuum carefully and according to the manual to minimize the possibility of skin damage.
How often should you use a blackhead vacuum tool?
Blackhead vacuum is not something to be overused, so don’t expect to be able to use it on the daily. Depending the vacuum itself and on your skin and its condition, it is recommended to use the vacuum only three times a week maximum (once a week for sensitive/dry skin and two-three times a week for oily skin types), or as stated in the manual or advised by your beautician or dermatologist for optimal results.
What are some alternatives for effective blackhead removal?
If your skin is very sensitive or prone to bruising, or if the idea off sucking the blackheads from your skin simply scares and repulses you, pore vacuums might not be for you. But luckily, there are many products out there that do the exact same thing — remove blackheads. Sure, they might not be as satisfying as physically pulling the blackheads out is, but they work nonetheless.
Having a good skincare routine is a must. When you take proper care of your skin, it will become less prone to developing blackheads in the first place. Washing your face in the AM and PM, using a good, gentle cleanser, and exfoliating regularly are all good habits that help prevent blackheads.
Face masks are another option when it comes to blackhead removal and especially when it comes to peel-off masks, seeing the gunk come out of your pores can be as satisfying to see as using the vacuum. Other good masks that help with blackhead extractions are clay masks and charcoal masks.
And if everything else fails, you can always visit an aesthetician who has the skill and technology to either extract the blackheads manually without damaging the skin or give you a chemical peel which should also remove those pesky little dark dots.
Blackhead vacuums can be an effective way to get rid of blackheads, whiteheads, and other skin imperfections caused by excess oil. There are many of different models and brands to choose from on the market in any price category, so choosing the right one for you shouldn’t be hard.
They do not, however, come with zero safety risks. When using one, it is very important to set the suction power a bit lower than you think you need and to proceed with the pore extraction exactly according to the product manual. That way, you can maximize the effect while minimizing the risks.
If you have very sensitive, easily irritated skin or are a person who easily bruises, you might not want to use the pore vacuum and look into other blackhead removal options. And last but not least, a good skincare routine is essential for preventing blackheads from appearing in the first place.