Without a doubt, acne comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. One common type you may have noticed from time to time is a blackhead.

This noninflammatory acne, also known as an open comedone, is usually removed through any combination of exfoliation and extraction. You might know about nose strips to remove them.

But are those nose strips doing more harm than good? Before you apply your strip, let’s take a closer look.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of research on the efficacy of nose strips. That’s why you might see a lot of conflicting information about whether they’re good or bad.

Generally, those who claim that nose strips are bad say the strips can remove more than just the blackhead, clearing pores entirely of sebaceous filaments.

These sebaceous filaments (a fancy term for a collection of sebum and dead skin cells) line pores and maintain healthy oil balance in the skin, so they’re not entirely bad.

When they get removed, your pores could become exposed to irritating dirt and oils.

They certainly can.

An older study found that strips effectively remove blackheads.

However, these effects were only temporary. The blackheads likely refill within a few weeks.

The removal process also requires proper application. To make sure the strips remove blackheads, the adhesive has to be activated with water.

For the best results, it’s best to follow the directions on the product’s label.

First of all, it’s important to know that there’s no real way to get rid of your pores.

And anyway, pores serve a very important function on the skin: They hold hair follicles, collect oils, and release sweat.

While you might not be able to rid your skin of pores, it’s true that nose strips can temporarily make pores look smaller.

By removing blackheads, the strips clear out the black- or brown-colored blockage. This can make pores appear as if they’re smaller or gone.

As we said before, though, this effect is only temporary. Your pores will likely refill within a few weeks.

You might still be interested in using pore strips for temporary results.

While they will remove your blackheads and make your pores appear smaller for a short while, it’s important to note that they could expose your pores to potentially inflammatory dirt and oils.

To safely remove blackheads with nose strips, here’s what we recommend.

Cleanse first

Most importantly, wash your face and wash your hands. You don’t want to introduce your pores to the oils on your fingers or the rest of your face.

Gently use your fingers to apply a water-based cleanser and rinse it off. Pat your face dry with a towel, making sure not to rub or aggravate your skin.

Follow directions

To safely remove the strips, follow the instructions that come with the product.

Usually this entails wetting your nose, applying the strips with pressure, and then waiting for the adhesive to firm up.

If you leave the strip on for too long, you could risk ripping off more than just your blackhead (like the top layer of skin!).

Apply at night

Using your nose strips before a big event? Use them the night before instead.

This way, your skin will be able to recover overnight and restore natural oils so you don’t irritate the area with makeup, sun exposure, or any poking and prodding.

Follow with noncomedogenic products

After you carefully remove your nose strip, you’ll want to complete your skin care routine with noncomedogenic products.

This essentially just means the products won’t clog your pores.

Gently massage in a lightweight moisturizer.

If you’re particularly concerned about your pores filling back up with dirt and oil, you can apply an anti-acne treatment before your moisturizer.

While nose strips offer instant, gratifying blackhead removal, there are safer and more effective ways to tackle blackheads and larger pores.

Here are a few removal and treatment options to consider.

For removing blackheads

Besides nose strips, there are other forms of extraction.

If you prefer an at-home extraction, you can try peel-off masks.

These work similarly to nose strips, adhering to the skin and removing everything from the pores.

Keep in mind that there’s a similar skepticism as to the efficacy of this method. More research needs to be done.

There’s also professional extraction. This topical procedure takes place at a dermatologist’s office or during a facial.

A dermatologist or aesthetician uses a loop-shaped extractor tool to apply gentle pressure to the surface of the skin to remove the blackhead.

It’s important to leave this procedure up to trained professionals. At home, you could risk scarring or pushing the blackhead deeper into the skin.

To prevent blackheads before they form, use noncomedogenic skin care and makeup products.

It’s also recommended to reduce physical irritation to the skin, including touching or tugging at your skin with your hands and excessive washing.

Aside from topical treatments, it’s best to nourish your body from the inside out. Eat a balanced diet to prevent spiking blood sugar and causing your oil glands to release more oil.

For minimizing the appearance of pores

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are several ways you can make your pores less noticeable.

Start with your skin care routine. The AAD recommends washing your face twice daily with warm water and a noncomedogenic cleanser that won’t irritate your skin.

Additionally, you can incorporate a gentle exfoliator once or twice a week.

For those with acne, it might be helpful to incorporate a topical retinol or retinyl palmitate. Just make sure to apply it before bedtime to reduce sensitization.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, retinol might not be suitable for you, so check with a doctor beforehand.

Sun damage can also emphasize pores, so make sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily.

Finally, if you wear makeup, choose products that say “noncomedogenic,” “oil free,” or “won’t clog pores.” These types of formulas won’t settle into or emphasize your pores.

All in all, while nose strips can remove blackheads, they’re probably not the best option for your pores.

More research needs to be conducted to determine how safe they truly are.

If you still want to use nose strips, follow the instructions that come with the product. Be careful to reduce damage to your skin.

If you’re concerned about your blackheads or if they become inflamed, seek out a dermatologist to get their expert opinion.

They might recommend mechanical extraction, a prescription-strength topical, or a new skin care regimen that will help clear your skin over time.

Jen Anderson is a wellness contributor at Healthline. She writes and edits for various lifestyle and beauty publications, with bylines at Refinery29, Byrdie, MyDomaine, and bareMinerals. When not typing away, you can find Jen practicing yoga, diffusing essential oils, watching Food Network, or guzzling a cup of coffee. You can follow her NYC adventures on Twitter and Instagram.