If you're active on social media you'll have seen the adverts for these black masks that show the pores being unblocked as it's ripped off the skin, it's satisfying I know, even knowing how god awful they are for the skin I still find the videos satisfying to watch but they are awful for the skin.
Firstly your pores are meant to contain oil, this helps to keep your skin hydrated, balanced and healthy. By removing this oil your skin needs to replace it and quickly! Usually producing a little more oil than you really need to try and overcompensate, this can then lead to oiliness and an increase in blocked pores. Also you're not only ripping out the oil, you're taking away a few layers of the epidermis (the top layer of your skin), this layer is there to protect your skin leaving you venerable to things like discolouration, dehydration, a change in PH, infection, bad bad bad!
And they don't even work as you'd think, if you have blackheads you know yourself when you've squeezed them, they're not hard like a splinter would be, they don't come out in one go, it's soft and squishy! So these masks are simply taking the top off your blackhead, not removing the whole thing, it's just leaving your skin open to infection. And in the videos you see, those aren't blocked pores, that's oil that's naturally in your pores, oil that your skin needs!
There's a good reason that top skincare brands don't have such a product, no matter how money grabbing they may be, they still don't want to introduce something that could potentially be damaging to the market and they are damaging! I know this because for the last few months I've been helping people who have had a negative result from using these masks, here are some examples of emails I've received from customers.
Dehydration - "I used the black mask all over, I'm not sure if I was meant to just use it on my nose? Anyway, my skin is now really sore and flaky, I have oily skin, my skin never gets flaky like this, help what should I do?
If you experience dehydration, stop exfoliation until your skin improves, be sure to use a suitable moisturiser two to three times a day and protect your skin in the sun.
Sebhorreic Dermatitis - "Since using the mask, the skin around my nose has become really dry and angry looking, it's flaky and red with little spots, different to the usual spots that I get"
If you think you may have any form of dermatitis visit your GP, ask at your surgery if there is a Dr or nurse that specialises in skincare, they can diagnose and treat if necessary.
Overproduction of oil - "my skin is just so oily, I cleanse and then within 10 minutes I can see the oil at the opening of my pores, within a few hours I'm like an oil slick, I can't wear make-up at the moment, it's just sliding off!"
The skin is producing extra oil to overcompensate for the loss, keep on moisturising twice a day, it may seem crazy to moisturise when your skin is already oily but it will help to balance your skin. Avoid using harsh products or soap (anything that foams).
Broken capillaries - "Oh my god please say there's something you can suggest to help? I have all these little lines on my cheeks, they're not too noticeable and I can cover them with make-up but how can I get rid of them?"
Hopefully they'll fade in time, again be sure to not use any harsh products on the area. If they don't fade then unfortunately topical products won't help, they'd need professional treatment such as laser.
Melasma - "I used the mask on the Monday evening and Tuesday I went on the sunbed, now I have 2 dark patches on my cheeks and they don't seem to be fading at all, it didn't say anything on the package about not going in the sun!"
This is probably the worst side effect because melasma doesn't usually disappear on it's on, it can fade in time, usually taking a few years but typically melasma would need laser treatment and even then, laser doesn't always help.
These are some of the more severe emails, the others are generally people experiencing a little dryness and soreness.
If you or someone you know is using these masks, I highly recommend you stop before you do start to see negative results. Blackheads are awful, I have oily skin and had acne as a teenager, I know how earth shattering skin conditions can be. But no matter what your age, your skin needs to be cherished and loved, treat your skin with the same care you'd treat a youngsters skin, you wouldn't scrub their skin or apply anything that was painful to remove (having seen the videos on youtube, removal of these masks looks pretty excruciating!). A good daily regime of cleansing, toning and moisturising using acids to gently exfoliate is essential, salicylic acid if you have blackheads and blocked pores, good skin requires daily TLC, there are no quick fixes when it comes to skin health.