About Blackhead Vac
The Blackhead Vac is a facial suction device that claims to be able to combat impurities such as dark spots, acne, and blackheads. It relies on a suction-tip design to pull debris up and out of the skin without any pulling, popping, or scratching.
The makers of the device claim that it is ideal for any type of skin, stating that the three separate power levels allow you to adjust the amount of suction needed at any time to deliver optimal results. The Blackhead Vac is also light, portable, and rechargeable via the included charging cable.
The product claims to use the principles of exfoliation to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin while removing these various impurities, promising to stimulate the growth of new and healthy skin without giving you a dull appearance in the process.
Because this claim is central to the Blackhead Vac’s functionality, we’ll need to take a closer look at it in just a moment, but first, let’s briefly explore what causes these skin blemishes in the first place.
Understanding Blackheads, Dark Spots and Rough Skin
Blackheads are essentially hair follicles that have been clogged with dead skin cells and oils, as well as foreign elements such as dirt and other debris.
Each of your follicles contains a single hair and a sebaceous gland that is responsible for producing oil to keep the skin in the face soft. Over time, these follicles can become clogged. If they remain closed off, they are referred to as whiteheads, but if they open up, the air will turn them black, making them blackheads.
According to Healthline, the following factors can increase your chances of developing blackhead and acne in general:
- “Producing too much body oil
- The buildup of the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on the skin
- Irritation of the hair follicles when dead skins cells don’t shed on a regular basis
- Undergoing hormonal changes that cause an increase in oil production during the teen years, during menstruation, or while taking birth control pills
- Taking certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, lithium, or androgens”
These factors can also contribute to developing dark spots and rough patches on the skin, which can often be caused by excessive body oil and foreign debris as well. Occasionally, though, dark spots can be a sign of something more serious, such as skin cancer, so it’s important to speak with a doctor if you’re ever feeling unsure.
Outside of vacuums like Blackhead Vac, traditional treatment options for blackheads include both prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as manual removal and microdermabrasion. In the latter, a trained skin care professional uses an instrument with a rough surface to “sand” down the top layer of the skin, removing the clogs directly.
These methods are well-established and have a demonstrable history of effectiveness, but what about a personal suction product like the Blackhead Vac? Can it be expected to achieve the same results?
Can You Really “Suck Your Way to Smoother Skin”?
On the Blackhead Vac website, we’re shown testimonials from people the company claims are real customers illustrating the effectiveness of the device, but is this what you can actually expect in practice when using it for yourself?
Based on the product’s commercial, it’s clear that it can provide intensive suction to a focused area of the skin, so it’s definitely stripping something away, but what this amounts to may not be the parts of the impurities you really want to remove in the first place. Why?
In an interview with metro.co.uk, facialist and aesthetician Andy Millward states that these types of pore vacuums actually tend to remove the sebaceous filaments (natural filaments often mistaken for blackheads) in the face, instead of the actual blackhead itself. This top layer is needed by the skin to protect it from outside elements, and so it will continue to generate more to make up for those that you remove. Millward says that this process can actually damage the pore over time.
Dr. Sandra Lee, perhaps better known as the infamous Dr. Pimple Popper on social media, also shared some of her concerns about the potential downsides of a suction product like the Blackhead Vac: "I think if the suction is too high, it's like giving yourself a hickey. You can get bruises from it," she explained. “It's called telangiectasia when you have superficial blood vessels that dilate because you have too much suction or too much pressure on the surface of the skin.”
The product at hand does include three different power modes to potentially mitigate worries of too much force being applied, but that doesn’t change the fact that these authority sources doubt the effectiveness of suction at truly removing blackheads in general.
Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City says that while these sorts of solutions can work to pull impurities from the skin, they are “most effective if the blocked pores were pre-loosened with products like salicylic or glycolic acid or physical exfoliation like microdermabrasion.”
Despite this, even when used correctly, he goes on to state that “They provide modest benefits for true blackheads, since these are caused by deeply rooted oil clogs in the pore.”
Blackhead Vac Pricing & Returns
As of the time of our research, the Blackhead Vac was available exclusively on the product’s main website. It is sold as either a single or double offer:
- Single Blackhead Vac: $29.99 + $4.99 P&H
- Double Offer Blackhead Vac: $44.98 + $4.99 P&H
In the terms and conditions listed on the checkout page, a 60-day satisfaction guarantee is laid out, stating that the company will even pay for return shipping should you decide that it isn’t right for you. To initiate a return, you’ll need to reach out to customer service at 800-510-8199 to request an RMA number.
Purchasing a Blackhead Suction Device Similar to The Blackhead Vac
Suction-based skin care devices have been quite popular on the market since an initial viral video exploded onto the scene, and despite what authority voices have stated above, they remain seemingly in-demand for many.
During our research, we found several other products that featured built-in rechargeable batteries and multiple suction levels, including a few less expensive options such as the $12 Imbeang Blackhead Vacuum. We also encountered devices that had several tips for different usage areas, as opposed to the single tip included with the product at hand.
Despite these differences, we didn’t encounter any suction products that weren’t subject to the fundamental criticisms discussed above.
Along these same lines, we also weren’t advised by authoritative sources of any reliable way to determine suction levels prior to purchasing a particular product. As such, consumers will largely be rolling the dice that the device they choose could damage the skin if used too often, as noted by Dr. Sandra Lee above.
All said, if you’re thinking about purchasing a suction-based blackhead remover, the first person you should speak with is your dermatologist. Otherwise, as we learned from these authoritative sources, it could perhaps be easy to damage your skin and create even more unsightly issues than blackheads.
If they give you the go-ahead, you’ll want to focus on one that fits within your budget (though price is not necessarily an indication of quality), features mostly positive customer reviews, and doesn’t come with a lot of unnecessary accessories.
After all, while a rechargeable battery can be eco-friendly and easy to use when on the go, it doesn’t appear that a greater selection of tips will deliver an improvement in performance. And remember: Because suction levels aren’t listed on their packaging, this important detail will largely remain unknown until applying the device to your face.
[Retained for notes: “includes the features you find most important for your personal skincare routine, whether that be a rechargeable battery, an extended selection of tips, or various levels of suction power.”]
The Bottom Line: Parting Thoughts on The Blackhead Vac
At this point, we have a solid understanding of how the Blackhead Vac (and similar pore suction products) claim to work. Based on this information, can you truly expect this device to be able to effectively combat dark spots, acne, and blackheads, as the makers promise?
Based on what we’ve been shown in the commercial and online, the device might indeed be capable of removing looser debris from clogged pores, but as we learned above, actual blackheads are buried deep within the skin, where suction alone is not likely to be able to fully remove them. So, what can you do instead? According to Dr. Lee, the most effective option may come down to your own two hands:
"I would wrap a little tissue paper around each finger, because it helps provide traction. Make sure your nails are short too. And just try to squeeze and change directions. Squeeze from a different angle and if they don't come out all the way, they might not be able to come out all the way. It's knowing when to stop, knowing when to say, okay that's enough!"
If you’d still like to give the Blackhead Vac a shot, be sure to keep the 60-day return policy in mind. If you find that it doesn’t deliver the results you were looking for in the end, you’ll be able to return it for a refund, including return shipping costs.
Just be sure to speak with your dermatologist in advance about whether or not this is the right option, based on your specific diagnosis.
Have you used the Blackhead Vac before? Let others know how your experience went below!