Beauty Test Drive: Bioré Charcoal Pore Strips, A Facial Cleanser For Drug Addicts

The best free samples in women’s magazines always do two things. 1) Defy the laws of physics and cosmetic packaging to fit flatly into an insert, and 2) never, ever work. Bioré’s Charcoal pore strips were no different.

A copy of Seventeen showed up at The Frisky offices last week and as I was complaining about the horrible values teen magazines teach American girls while secretly taking a quiz to find out if I needed a guy vacay (answer: yes, and if I do it right, my grades will totally thank me, so UC Berkeley registrar’s office, you can send that note of gratitude for my 2.7 anytime now), an insert for Bioré’s latest nose-cleaning offering caught my eye for one reason alone: it was all black. Apparently this iteration of nasal torture is filled with charcoal to to pull “deep-down gunk and oil out of your pores.” Conveniently mentioned nowhere in this advertisement was the fact that Bioré is apparently now taking its product design cues from drug addiction, because how else are you gonna pretend charcoal is great for “clearing out toxins” without mentioning that this knowledge comes from a good old fashioned stomach pumping?

But as I hope to never have to have my stomach pumped for reasons not limited solely to that fact that I think it would be wasteful, I forged ahead with my drug use-enabling pore strip, because what am I if not the baddest girl in the whole 9th grade?

Product: Bioré Charcoal Pore Strips, $7.99

Application: No real change from the pore strips of yore: this dark-colored baby also adheres to wet noses only. Other than that, very similar to the original: you gently tear the strip a tiny bit at the two upper and two lower notches to help make it forgivingly flexible for noses of all sizes, and then apply to your nose and wait for it to dry like papier-mâché. The less water you use, the less tacky the pore strip will be, and if like me you have a large nose, you probably need a fair amount of water. I applied mine at work, despite the fact that I work in an office filled with people who do not know that I’m accustomed to fits of whimsy, and spent the next 15 minutes wandering the office, Seventeen in hand, learning all I could about being a cool teen while avoiding side-long glances from my music-covering coworkers.

Results: Much like any other pore strip, the true joy only comes when you rip the damn thing off your face and gleefully examine the contents held within. I would go so far as to say that the number one reason people use pore strips is to examine the crud adhered to the strip, and actual pore unclogging coming in somewhere around fourth (trumped by things like feeling like a character in a classic teen rom-com and scaring your boyfriend). To no one’s surprise, Bioré’s charcoal offerings strip you of all of that joy, because it is incredibly hard to see residual blackhead on a black piece of paper. Given that the biggest benefits of pore strips are largely psychological (while you are removing some dirt, it’s mainly surface – it’s the tangible act of seeing anything on the strip that keeps you thinking it’s really working), making it harder for people to see if it even worked seems like an oversight.

After 15 minutes of letting the pore strip adhere to my face and three different articles all about various ways to love my body before the bell rings, it was my greatest sadness to see that not only did it not make my nose any clearer, it had added dirt back onto it. Even under close examination there was zero facial junk on the strip, my nose looked essentially the same as it was when it was (mildly clogged before we started this), and I had now picked up an ungodly amount of what can only be referred to by its proper Yiddish name: schmutz. Perhaps the only upside to this product is that it made me feel like a very glamorous drug addict for a brief period of time, but like any good high, that feeling was elusively ephemeral. Save the charcoal for your summer barbecues and your methadone overdoses and just get regular pore strips instead.

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Rating: 1/5 stars