This New Way To Remove Blackheads Is Mind-Blowing

Living in Seoul and having access to cheap-and-when-you-want-it skin care is a perk that doubles as a discovery depot for the latest beauty gadgets and procedures to hit the market. I’ve come to recognize that gleeful, mad-scientist grin my aesthetician has when she wants to try something new, usually skipping the whole "asking me if I'm cool with it" part. This is how I first came to get my pores vacuumed, a procedure I would have enthusiastically nodded yes to anyway because pore-vacuuming just sounds awesome. Who wouldn't want that?

In Korea, this suction-powered hydration facial is known as “aqua peel” and it uses a skin vacuum in which a rotating nozzle tip pushes an AHA/BHA solution into the skin and then sucks it up, taking dead skin, blackheads, and other unwelcome pore gunk along with it. The solution creates a centrifugal liquid seal with skin to powerfully pull out impurities while at the same time cushioning the skin from damage and irritation that a dry vacuum of the same force would cause.

The real clincher came when I was shown the cloudy water tank of disgustingness post-procedure. Seeing the little squiggles of sebum that had been hiding away in my pores just swimming around brought me equal parts horror and satisfaction. At one point, I became so obsessed, I was going two to three times a week.

Over time, I could see how this kind of maintenance was making headway into my quest against blackheads. My skin was becoming as smooth as glass. A high-def camera could have come in for a closeup, and I wouldn’t have flinched.
But a very busy traveling schedule made it near impossible to keep up my regular visits to my psychic aesthetician. (No pore-vacuuming in Tel Aviv?) So when I discovered an at-home version of the machine, I was like SIGN ME UP. Unfortunately, the at-home device is not yet available in the U.S. So if you have a friend in Korea, beg or force them to order one and mail it to you. Totally worth the international shipping fees, promise.

Read on for my advice on how to mimic the Korean pore-vacuuming experience at home. Want to see it in action? Check out the video of my treatment — there's one for each step of the facial.
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The actual pore-vacuuming takes about 15 minutes, but you don’t just stride in and go straight to suctioning. Making sure the skin is properly cleansed and hydrated means less irritation, and like with any skin-refining procedure, there’s a little prep to getting the pores ready to surrender their gunk. In this case, that means not just a thorough wash, but a gentle exfoliating treatment.

This freaky peeling gel from Korean dermacosmetic brand Dr. G balls up as you rub it around the face, taking dead skin along with it.

Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel, $28, available at Glow Recipe.
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For the professional treatment, gauze strips soaked in an acidic toner solution are placed on the face for 10 to 15 minutes to “melt” stubborn impurities that have been lodged in the skin. To get this step down at home, these handy giant Q-tip exfoliators are my jam. The swabs are almost comically oversized, and come soaked with a blend of lactic and glycolic acids to break down whatever squiggles of sebum you have nesting in your pores.

Yoon Dermaline Marine Aqua Peeler, $6, available at Glow Recipe.
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This at-home skin vacuum has two chambers, just like the professional machine. One is filled with the AHA/BHA solution, and the second is for catching all the used solution plus everything it’s picked up from the pores.

The suction of the at-home device isn’t as strong as that of the in-spa one, which is likely due to its more compact size and subsequently smaller motor. The machine sells for around $200 (about a 10th of the price of the commercial device), and currently, it’s only being sold domestically in South Korea. Hopefully, it’ll be going global soon.

Skin Spa Aqua Peeling System, $179, available at Auction.
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It’s important to follow up the pore-suctioning procedure with a pore-tightening solution and a soothing modeling mask. Because of the suction, skin can get irritated and red, especially for those with sensitive skin. A modeling mask is just the skin-calming cocoon your face needs post-treatment. This one from Shangpree is infused with charcoal, a super-effective pore-purifying ingredient. The mask also tightens pores and hydrates your skin.

Shangpree Black Premium Modeling Mask, $20, available at Peach & Lily.
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