NOSE STRIPS: PROS AND CONS
A few years ago, nose strips of different shapes, colors, and odors enjoyed a high level of popularity on Instagram. Social networks’ users chose the ones they liked, stuck them on their noses, and demonstrated how they’d easily and cheaply got rid of blackheads and excess sebum. In fact, open comedones or blackheads are not caused by external dirt as many people think. The pores get clogged with surface skin fat and dead cells. When such greasy plugs contact the air, their contents are oxidized, and visible blackheads appear on the skin. The color of blackheads is imparted by melanin which is also responsible for tanning. I’ve decided to find out whether nose strips really work and why it is so important to cleanse the skin.
A cosmetic chemist’s opinion
Nose strips work on the same principle as an adhesive bandage: they adhere to the surface of the skin and capture its contents. I took part in the development of such a product. The main condition is that the strip should be sticky to "catch" dead skin cells, dirt, and blackheads’ tips. Therefore, we used polyquaternium-37 as the main component. It’s a polymer that forms a sticky substance when mixed with water. Other ingredients included salicylic acid, coal, and tea tree extract. But they are present in very small concentrations and are applied externally, so they don’t have any noticeable effect.
Nose strips work superficially, despite the visual effect of sebum "stalactites" on the utilized strip. They only tear off the comedones’ "heads", and the roots remain inside the pores. If you have thin, sensitive, irritated, or damaged skin, it is better not to use nose strips. You should also avoid them if you suffer from rosacea. If you want to cleanse your pores and get rid of open comedones, choose gentle non-invasive facial peels.
A dermatologist’s point of view
Pore cleansing strips can damage the protective lipid barrier that inhibits moisture evaporation from the skin's surface. No wonder that after you tear off the strip, the skin under it becomes red. And I don’t think such products are effective as they only remove dirt and dead cells from the skin surface. They can’t eliminate comedones.
I would classify nose strips as aggressive skin care products. They lead to sebum deficiency and deprive the skin of natural protection. And the sebaceous glands soften the upper layer of the skin. I recommend choosing a complex strategy for skin cleansing and exfoliating. Use face peels that contain glycolic or salicylic acids. Another important ingredient is white clay that absorbs excess sebum and removes dirt.
A clinical psychologist’s judgment
If all of us have skin pores and sebum in them, why are we willing to tear off the layers of our skin just to remove imaginary dirt? Skin cleansing products are mainly targeted at people who are prone to neuroticism. It is enough to frighten customers with wastes, toxins, bad karma, or clogged pores, and they will be ready to buy any cleansing goods and services. Cleansing is a magic word, and brands use it to successfully sell a lot of useless and sometimes even harmful products.
Neuroticism is often caused by fear and guilt. Sometimes it is related to the body (I am fat, ugly), appearance (I am not perfect), or spirituality (I am peccant, vicious). And then people compulsively cleanse their skin or body. Or they start to clean something (for example, they have a constant need to clean the house). But neurotic people don’t find the peace they are seeking and after a while, they feel imperfect again.