There are few things in life more satisfying than getting rid of blackheads with a pore strip. The feeling you get looking at the gunk you've peeled off, and knowing that your nose is totally dirt-free, is straight up magical. But when I read on Pinterest that in Korea — aka skincare heaven — women use sparkling water to get rid of blackheads, I was curious. Had they figured something out that was even better than my pore strip-and-peel method?
According to anecdotal information on the internet, when you wash your face with carbonated water the molecules are absorbed into your pores and help to pull out dirt and waste. It then tightens pores and fills them with water, making skin look plump and refreshed. Some women swear by dunking their entire face into a bowl of sparkling water for 10-15 seconds, while others say that just rinsing with the bubbly stuff is enough to warrant results.
But is there any actual proof that it works? "Although washing your face with sparkling water may seem refreshing, there is little to no scientifically proven benefit," says Dr. Susan Bard of Sadick Dermatology in New York City. "While carbonated water is slightly acidic which, in theory, can provide some exfoliation, it can also cause irritation to sensitive or dry skin."
Well, science be damned, because if Pinterest says it's a miracle cure there must be some merit to it, right? In the name of beauty journalism, I had to find out for myself.
I started by cleansing my face with a Sephora Collection Cleansing Wipe to make sure there was no excess gunk on my face so that the water had a clear path into my dirty pores.
Sephora Collection Cleansing Wipe, $10, Sephora
According to the Internet, the best results come from mixing equal parts sparkling water with mineral water, so I readied myself with a bottle of each and a big ass pot.
After a few seconds of maneuvering and trying to figure out how I was going to fit my whole face into the pot, I went for it.
And let me tell you, it was (expletive, expletive, expletive) terrible. The bubbles went up my nose and into my eyes, and I felt like I was drowning. I could only bear the torture for four seconds before needing to come up for air.
Because I'm insane-level dedicated to the pursuit of perfect skin, I decided to try again. This time, I breathed out of my nose while my head was submerged. It was still pretty awful — the bubbles were going everywhere and I still felt like I was going to die in there — but I managed to last the full 10 seconds.
As much as I hated (hated, hated, hated) the way the experiment felt, I do have to admit it kiiiind of worked. After my dunk, the pores on my nose were noticeably smaller and clearer — even if the blackheads may not have been totally gone, they were definitely less noticeable. Beyond that, my skin felt tighter and looked brighter for the next few hours, but that may just have been because I shocked it into submission.
If wasting Perrier on your skin isn't quite your style (that stuff is pricy), Dr. Bard suggests sticking with retinoids to clean out your pores, especially now that Adapalene 0.1% (a chemical exfoliant) is available over the counter. Just remember: a pea sized amount is all you need for an area the size of the entire face. And FYI — I think I'll stick with her way.