Do Blackhead Vacuums Work? Can They Extract Blackheads?

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Blackheads are a constant headache for many of us! Concealers hide the problem… for a while. Facial steaming can help, and pore strips can pull out some blackheads.

But sometimes what you need is a little bit of power. Enter the blackhead vacuum. These little suction devices are designed to pull out blackheads painlessly and quickly. 

In this article, we’ll look at the details of these new beauty tools, and ask the question: Do Blackhead Vacuums Work

Yes, they work pretty well to get rid of small blackheads, but often struggle with larger blackheads. And there is some risk to using them, as they can cause hicky-like bruises on the face if you’re not careful.

We’ll explain it all below!


Dealing With Blackheads

Have you ever gotten home after a long day at work, went to your bathroom to wash up, and then noticed tiny, dark, pimple-like dots all over your face? These dots are pores that have become clogged with dirt, debris, and dead skin cells. 

They’re blackheads.

Most blackheads have a white or yellow base and a black tip. The lighter-colored base is usually made up of white blood cells and heavier skin oils. The black tip is darker because it gets the most exposure to dirt throughout the day.

Some of the top-selling cosmetic products on the market are designed specifically to treat blackheads. They’re one of those skin problems that almost everybody has to deal with. No matter what color your skin is, what type of skin you have, or if you’re a male or female.

Blackheads are a part of life.

Until recently, the top ways to get rid of blackheads were:

  • Exfoliating them
  • Using a pimple-popping tool to “press” them out
  • Pore strips that stick to the blackhead and then pull them out

While all three of these methods are effective ways of removing blackheads, they each come with some drawbacks.

But there is a fairly a new solution- the pore vacuum

Sometimes referred to as a “blackhead vacuum”, this small hand-held device is designed to literally suck the pores out of your face using pressure and steam. Pretty neat, right? 

Do Blackhead Vacuums Work?

Microderm Glo Blackhead Vacuum

Obviously it depends on the model and on your technique, but a blackhead vacuu will successfully suck out most standard-sized blackheads without too much difficulty.

However, if you’ve got some seriously large blackheads, a remover is unlikely to be able to get it out. If you’re not careful, you can injure the skin around a big blackhead and just make the whole situation much worse (more on that later).

Advantages of Blackhead Removers

Blackhead vacuums are a great alternative to exfoliation, pimple poppers, and nose strips. 

For one- they’re all-natural.

Nose strips use potentially harmful chemicals that can cause irritation in those with more sensitive skin. Pore vacuums just use a bit of suction and some steam power! 

Another great reason to buy a blackhead vacuum is that they’re very affordable.

If you’re on a budget, a number of top-performing models cost less than $50. On the other hand, if you want to treat yourself, there are some higher-end models that cost quite a bit more, but feature extra bells and whistles, such as full or partial microdermabrasion functionality. 

Microderm is effective at removing blackheads, and generally works better than cheaper blackhead vacuums.

Since pore vacuums aren’t scrubbing or resurfacing the top layer of your skin, you’ll also be able to use them more often. When used correctly, they shouldn’t damage your skin or cause inflammation. 

When used correctly.

Don’t skip any steps, and be careful. If you’re unlucky, you can get a nasty welt on your skin from a blackhead vacuum!

See this article if you get a pore vacuum hickey.

How Does a Pore Vacuum Work?

Microderm Glo Blackhead Vacuum

One of the reasons why blackhead vacuums are so effective is that they’re simple. They work by using steam and pressure to suck the blockage out of your pores and allow them to breathe freely again. 

The first step involves moisture. Many people like to use a facial steamer prior to their blackhead vacuum (see our article on facial steamers and blackheads for more information). You can also use a hot towel or a bowl of hot water.

Aside from loosening dirt, oils, and other contaminants from your face, the steam will also open your pores up.

Once the pores are open, the pore vacuum will have an easier time sucking out the blackheads.

The second part of the process is the fun part- sucking all of the gunk out of your pores! 

Once you’re finished steaming, you’ll switch your device to vacuum mode. The vacuum will start to suck in air from the same hole that the steam was coming through. Once you place the opening over a section of clogged pores, it will increase the pressure, and within a couple of seconds, the blackheads will be pulled into the vacuum

The pore vacuum should get most of the blackheads out. However, you may notice a few stubborn ones that are deeper under the surface of the skin. The best way to take care of these is to do a second pass with the steamer, giving special attention to problem spots.

As the steam begins to penetrate deeper into the pores, it will help push the debris closer to the surface, to be sucked up easier. 

Once you’re finished, empty the old water, and clean out everything that got sucked up. You’ll have everything ready to go the next time you use it. 

How To Use Your Pore Vacuum

Using Pore Vacuum

Already have a blackhead pore vacuum? Let’s do a quick review of how to use it so that you get the best results from it. 

Step 1: Cleanse Your Face

When using your vacuum, you want to start with as clean of a surface as possible. Remove all of the surface-level dirt, oil, or makeup with your daily cleanser and warm water.

This will help bring your blackheads closer to the surface as well. 

Step 2: Steam Your Face

Before sucking your blackheads out, you’ll want to quickly steam your facial steamer or hot, moist towel. Always use clean water to prevent any bacteria from building up. 

You should keep the device 4 to 5 inches away from your face and target the areas where the blackheads are most severe.

Spend 30 seconds to a minute steaming your face depending on how severe your condition is. 

Step 3: Power-Up Your Blackhead Vacuum

Now, switch to the vacuum setting and slowly start to suck up your blackheads, starting with the largest ones first. Try not to keep the vacuum in the same spot for too long and move it around every couple of seconds to prevent bruising. 

How Blackheads Develop

Blackhead. Source: Wikipedia

Let’s take a quick look at how blackheads develop in the first place. This will give you a better appreciation for how these devices work and what you can expect from them. 

Your face has over 20,000 pores. Let that sink in for a second. With that many pores on our face, most of us can count ourselves lucky to only have a few bumps here and there! If our face didn’t have a natural defense mechanism for dealing with dirt and bacteria, then humans would probably look like some grotesque form of alien! 

The pores on your face play an important role. For one, they regulate our body’s temperature. When we’re hot, the pores open up to allow better airflow and to release sweat to cool us down. When we’re cold, the pores tighten up to provide a protective barrier against the cold. 

Many pores also play a role in hair production. The pores contain small hair follicles that grow all of the microscopic hairs that line our skin. Most of the facial hair pores are invisible in women, but the hairs still play an important role in trapping dirt and bacteria on the face. 

Clogged Pores

However, sometimes, the pores become clogged. This happens far more when your pores are bigger and more open. Ever notice how you get more acne in the hot, sticky summers? That’s why. 

Sometimes pores are clogged by a topical skin product such as makeup, fragrance, sebum, or even a cleaning product that doesn’t agree with your face. One of the most common causes of blackheads, though, is dead skin cell buildup. 

Facial skin completely regenerates itself every 27 days, which means that we are constantly shedding dead skin. In fact, most of the dust in your house comes from dead skin! Sometimes this dead skin accumulates in the pore and clogs it up, preventing the pore from being able to breathe.

These blackheads are usually a combination of sebaceous oils, skin cells, and dirt. The longer that the clogged pore is exposed to open air, the more it oxidizes and becomes darker (similar to an apple left out in the open). 

Frequently Asked Questions About Blackhead Vacuums

Now, let’s take a minute to answer some of the most common questions asked by first-time users. 

Can Pore Vacuums Be Used For Regular Pimples?

Although pore vacuums are designed to treat blackheads, they can also help to get rid of regular pimples as well. Most devices aren’t strong enough to treat large cysts, but if you’ve got a couple of pesky whiteheads, your pore vacuum should make quick work of them! 

Can Pore Vacuums Cause Side Effects? 

As long as you’re following the directions and using the device as intended, blackhead vacuums should not cause any major side effects. However, there are a couple of common mistakes that can lead to minor setbacks if you’re not careful. 

Light Bruising

Bruising is one of the more common side effects caused by pore vacuums. This can happen if you use too much suction or press the vacuum tip against your skin too hard. When using your pore vacuum, you should apply just enough pressure to create a seal between the tip and your skin; there’s no need to press the tip into the skin. 
If you run into any stubborn blackheads, you’re better off performing a second round of steaming and suction or using a blackhead removal tool. 

Steam Burns

Another common complaint with some of the cheaper blackhead vacuums on the market is that they can cause steam burns. These models usually don’t have as much pressure regulation, which can cause them to produce more steam than necessary. This can lead to topical inflammation if you put the steaming tip too close to the surface of your skin. 

If you happen to purchase a blackhead vacuum that’s a bit too steamy, you can still use it. Just make sure that you hold the device farther away from your face while you’re steaming it. 

Rosacea and Eczema Flare-Ups

Pore vacuums are 100% safe for most people. However, if you suffer from eczema or rosacea, the hot steam and suction could cause your condition to flare-up. If you have either of these two conditions, you should consult your dermatologist before using this product to get a professional opinion. 

Other Ways To Remove Blackheads


Exfoliation works great, but it’s bad to exfoliate more than once a week unless you want to damage your skin. 

Comedone Extractors

Comedone Extractor

Pimple popping tools known as Comedone extractors are effective but can cut, scratch, and bruise the skin. They can also create more problems if they aren’t properly sanitized between use. 

Pore Strips

Pore Strip

Pore strips are far more gentle, but even those will only get around half of the blackheads out of your face. And they may have chemicals that can irritate the skin for some people.

Final Thoughts

Do blackhead extractors work? Yes, a decent one will get rid of many of your blackheads, assuming they’re not too big.

If you’re looking for a reliable, safe, and effective method for removing clogged pores and blackheads on your nose, chin, and other problem areas, you can’t go wrong with a pore vacuum.

Most people use their pore vacuums as a secondary treatment that they perform a couple of nights a week or after their face was exposed to a lot of dirt and grime.

These devices are excellent for removing deep-set blackheads, but they shouldn’t be used to replace your normal skincare routine completely. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).