Can you really trust Instagram for skincare advice?
A little background
I’m not going to lie. I’m a bit of a sucker for skincare. I wish I could say it was the fancy, professional kind, but no, I can’t afford that. So I go for the quick fix — the fads. I can’t help myself. I want to be ageless and flawless forever, please, but on a budget please. I’m a sucker for a pore strip, an at-home face mask, micro-needling, face, and body brushing, silicone pads. You name it, I’ve ordered it.
As a woman, I think the Instagram search/recommended page likes to show me a hell of a lot of make-up, hair, beauty, and fitness stuff. The feminist in me is annoyed, but the vain person is scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. It’s easy to get mesmerised by these miracle products that you know deep down are probably fake, but you wish pretty hard that they are not.
The pore vacuum
One that really caught my attention was the pore vacuum. What is that? Well, it’s basically a little vacuum for your face! You drag it across your skin, and it pulls the blackhead (dilated pores filled with oils and dead skin cells that have been oxidised and turned black) right out, all of it. Watching the videos was a morbid fascination and oh so satisfying. I already liked pore strips; these looked like pore strips on steroids. I just had to try it.
It arrived not long before I had a big party to go to, my best friend’s 30th. Perfect, I thought, I will use it the day before, and I will show up with beautiful clear skin.
The little nozzle is clear, so you can actually see the white junk collect on the inside of it. I put it on my chin and looked through the nozzle, fascinated for a fraction of a second too long, and boom. The entire circle of skin under the nozzle turned bright red in an instant. I panickily pulled the leech of my face to see a perfect circular little bruise on my chin. Shit.
Instead of noticing my glowing skin at said party, instead, it was “What’s that on your chin? Is that a bruise?!” where I would have to sheepishly nod and admit that yes, yes, that is a bruise, where I would be asked the dreaded follow-up question “How did you get that?” and I had to laugh and explain that I gave myself a bruise trying to hoover up blackheads out of my skin.
So I tried again a few weeks later on the advice I read to hold the skin taught and drag it across rather than leaving it in one place (which causes bruising) and it kind of worked. I would say it half worked. Things came out but definitely not ALL the things and not even close to the tutorial videos I’d watched.
After using it for several months, I can honestly say that although there is some immediate gratification of using it, it had no long-term positive results on my skin. In fact, if anything, the blackheads would refill quicker than ever, and I felt like it irritated and damaged my skin slightly after using it.
What am I doing wrong? So I took to the all mighty oracle again, Google. So apparently, there’s a bit of a debate in the world of skincare. Some people love extraction (the term used for popping pimples or using things like pore strips/vacuums), and others say to avoid it like the plague. But for the most part, the people who say not to do that are the dermatologists. Call me crazy, but I think I trust them more than influencers.
This was when I stumbled across a great YouTube channel called “Doctorly,” where two dermatologists debunk all sorts of beauty myths and help you to solve your skincare woes. I watched one particular video called “Skincare you DON’T need,” and can you guess what came in at number 5? Yes, the pore vacuum.
What do pore vacuums do?
They lift everything from your pores, like dead skin cells and oil.
Why is this bad for the skin?
You are treating the symptom and not the cause. By just removing these things, they will simply keep re-accumulating. They can irritate the skin, bruise the skin (yup) and a common side effect is telangiectasias which are permanent red vessels in the skin.
What can you do instead?
Three ingredients are recommended to treat black blackheads: retinoids, salicylic acid, and niacinamide. Retinoids reduce inflammation and stop cells from sticking together. Salicylic acid removes dead surface-level skin. Niacinamide helps decrease oiliness. These treatments combined help to treat the underlying cause of blackheads to improve the skin in the long term.
What have I learned from this experience?
After finally throwing my pore vacuum in the bin where it belongs, I admitted to myself if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. As much as I wish there were, there are no real shortcuts. You can’t just buy one magical product that’s going to fix everything, and you need to put in time, effort, and expertise.
I also learned to look at the things that I see on social media with a critical eye. Are they genuinely wanting to share something, or is there an ulterior motive? Why is this person recommending me this? Are they just getting a commission on an affiliated product?
Most importantly, trust the experts. What are the credentials of that person on Instagram, why should you trust their advice? If you want real advice for healthy skin, find out what dermatologists and beauty therapists recommend. I can guarantee there won’t be gimmicks like this.
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