DIY Pore Strips: How Do They Stack Up Against The Drugstore Variety?

It's a battle to the blackhead death!
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Wendy
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It's a battle to the blackhead death!

There's something so deeply satisfying about a beauty or skincare product that shows you instant, visible results. In fact, I think the tangible evidence of a product doing its job is what propels the fascination and cult obsession with pore strips. Seriously, I study those things with the kind of attention and focus that'd make you think I'm writing a dissertation on my nose's sebum output. And I know I'm not alone.

The problem: they get expensive real fast. This is the cold, hard truth about one-time-use beauty products. To me, though, the post-strip satisfaction has always been worth my money.

I've known about the DIY pore strip option for quite a while, but my skepticism kept me from ever trying it. I mean, can they really be better than the real thing? I decided to put both to the test.

Let's start with the store-bought pore strip.

Let's start with the store-bought pore strip.

I'm going to go ahead and assume you all know how these work, but just in case: You wet your nose, apply the strip and wait for 10 to 15 minutes for it to harden; once it does, you slowly peel it off your skin and then scrutinize it under excellent lighting to see just how much gunk it pulled out of your pores. It's like candy for your eyes!

I typically apply a pore strip once per week. I could probably go every other week, but I love them so much that I can't resist. If I go a longer stretch of time, there's obviously more dirt, sebum and oil that gets pulled out.

I know it's kind of hard to see anything on here, but there was definitely gunk on this strip. I tend to get most of my buildup on the creases of my nose.

I know it's kind of hard to see anything on here, but there was definitely gunk on this strip. I tend to get most of my buildup on the creases of my nose.

Store bought pore strips are awesome because they're conveniently wrapped, have no real scent, and they do what they're supposed to. Those three things make them worth the money, in my opinion. But, since we're comparing here, it's only fair that I list their negative qualities.

My biggest complaints about the store-bought strips: they get expensive; they tend to leave a lot of debris on your nose, which can lead to breakouts if you aren't careful about washing post-application; they don't reach some areas of the nose, including the upper nose and underneath your nose between your nostrils

Let's move on to the DIY version. Right out the gate, this version of the pore strip gets big points for being super-inexpensive and incredibly inconvenient. 

Here's the how-to!

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Gather milk (any variety), unflavored gelatin, a microwave safe bowl and measuring spoons.

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Measure out 1 TBS. of milk and pour it into your microwavable bowl.

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Next, add a tablespoon of unflavored gelatin. Any brand works.

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After combining equal parts gelatin and equal parts milk, mix it up really well. You'll be left with a chunky, odd texture that looks like this.

Easy enough, right? I'm going to stop right here, though, and tell you that this makes way more than you need for one nose (even if you're Cyrano de Bergerac). In fact, you could easily cut the amount in half and still have some left over. This is important to note when considering the cost factor.

After you've mixed this up, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds.

Microwaving will create this liquidy stuff. Wait a few seconds for it to cool down before applying to your clean nose.

Microwaving will create this liquidy stuff. Wait a few seconds for it to cool down before applying to your clean nose.

I'm not going to lie: This stuff smells foul. At first, I thought my milk turned, but the unpleasant odor is just part of the DIY pore strip game. If I had to liken it to something, it'd be a wet dog who just spend an entire day romping through a soggy forest.

Second guessing this experiment. Not really, but yeah, it smells.

Second guessing this experiment. Not really, but yeah, it smells.

Time to apply! Your nose should be makeup-free.

You can use a cheap makeup brush to apply. Your fingers should work, too. If you use a brush, make sure to rinse it right after.

You can use a cheap makeup brush to apply. Your fingers should work, too. If you use a brush, make sure to rinse it right after.

Once you've got your stinky pore strip on, wait until it hardens. I lathered mine on kind of thick and ended up waiting for about 15 minutes.

To be fair (like a true scientist), I waited one week between the store-bought pore strip and this one. Both had a week in between the previous pore strip application. Gotta keep the variables to a minimum, folks.

Carefully remove, just like you would a store-bought pore strip.

Carefully remove, just like you would a store-bought pore strip.

I honestly was surprised at how well this came off. I thought it'd be too thin to remove in one piece and worried that there'd be lots of little pieces stuck on my skin. Not the case at all.

Check it out! All removed. Color me impressed.

Check it out! All removed. Color me impressed.

Gratuitous, disgustingly satisfying close up.

Gratuitous, disgustingly satisfying close up.

Again, it's kind of hard to see all the little fine "hair" looking things pulled off, but this DIY pore strip really did work. The areas that had the most visible success was the underside of my nose (between nostrils) and on the upper part of my nose. Both of these are areas where store bought pore strips do not reach.

So, let's list the pros for the DIY version: very, very cheap (store bought are roughly $1 per, these are about 20 cents per); reaches areas that a store-bought pore strip doesn't; doesn't leave a lot of residual product on the nose.

The cons: very stinky; perhaps not as convenient (buy maybe more convenient if you already have the ingredients and no store-bought product?)

In the end, if I find the store bought strips on sale, I really wouldn't mind picking them up and using them. They do work. However, knowing that I can make a way less expensive version that works just as well and covers more "ground," I can see myself going the DIY route far more often.