The lengths at which some of us (myself, included) have gone to in order to rid our pores of pesky blackheads is, at times, alarming. And that’s putting it lightly. In the last year alone, we’ve seen tweezers yank built-up debris out of someone’s nose, one blogger employ an eyebrow razor for removal, and learned one Victoria’s Secret model uses Pepto-Bismol of all things to bust her blackheads. (The latter of which is most definitely a no-no.)
However, all the aforementioned extraction techniques pale in comparison to the trick I like to call the “The Elmer’s Glue Method.” The method in question involves spreading a small amount of glue (yes, glue) over your nose (or wherever you tend to amass the most blackheads), waiting for it to dry, and then peeling it off, said gunk and grime along with it.
But as a skin-care skeptic, I’ve got to ask: How could glue, the chemically smelling adhesive we used for arts and crafts as kids, possibly be good, let alone safe to use on our skin? I turned to three skin authorities to find out.
Now I’ll admit it: I definitely thought this was going to be a situation in which I got to debunk the hell out of this wacky skin-care hack, but lo and behold, it seems the trick might actually hold some merit. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, explained that Elmer’s glue contains ingredients called acrylates, which allow it to stick to what it is applied to, including the skin, and is commonly used along with charcoal in DIY masks to remove blackheads. Though he does caution that glue can be uncomfortable to remove (this is because it attaches to the tiny hairs on the skin) and shouldn’t be left for long periods of time, he said it will likely cause little harm to the complexion. He also adds that it should not be applied to any open or raw skin, but then again that seems like a no-brainer to me.
On the flip side, Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, does not recommend this means of removal, and literally said, “Omg!!! Please don’t put glue on your face,” when I sought out her expertise via email. She went on to add that blackheads are best treated with retinol creams like, Retin A and Differin, and that Elmer’s will absolutely not help to lift the debris that gets trapped in our pores, which is why dermatologists don’t recommend it. “It can be irritating and potentially cause an allergic reaction on the sensitive skin of the face,” she says. OK, so far we have one maybe/yes, and one fervent no. Interesting.
I also sought insight from a cosmetic chemist, because it only seemed appropriate seeing as they’re the next-level geniuses when it comes to concoctions and ingredient makeup. James Hammer, the President of MIX Solutions, surprised me with his answer, as he more or less backed up “The Elmer’s Method.”
“White glues, like Elmer’s, are water solutions of a flexible film-forming polymer, called polyvinyl acetate, and they are generally pretty safe and non-toxic,” he says. “And who among us hasn’t experienced the glue drying on our fingers when making art projects in Elementary school, etc., and forming a film that could be peeled off, right?” he adds. (He has a point.)
While he definitely didn’t demystify the approach, he did have a couple apprehensions. The first of which is the fact that glue was never intended to be used on the skin, and therefore probably hasn’t gone through the typical tests made to measure skin irritation and reactions to products. What’s more are the preservatives added to glue, which can easily irritate many skin types. “Since it is a water-based household product, it probably contains preservatives that are not usually used in cosmetic products, so this could be a source of irritation or concern with repeated exposure,” says Hammer.
So, given all of this, the general consensus seems to be that you may want to avoid using Elmer’s glue for blackhead extraction purposes — even if it is deemed safe by dermatologists. If your blackheads are the bane of your existence, there are many (read: many) exfoliating formulas on the market to help ease out debris sans craft glue.
(H/T: New Beauty)
More on acne treatments:
- 4 Steps For Getting Rid of a Cystic Pimple, Fast
- This Mask Hack Made the Pores on My Nose Look Smaller
- Allure Editors’ Best Acne Treatments
Now, find out how to pop pimples the right way: