A few days ago, I was doing my usual perusing of lady sites when I came across a post from one of our partners. Our friends over at HuffPost Style do a recurring feature in which they ask various lovely women in and around New York for the products they use to achieve said loveliness. One usually finds an expected high/low array of It products, your drugstore cleaners (Hey, Purpose!), your super fancy La Prairie creams, Burt’s Bee’s lip balm, YSL mascara… the kind of content that–much like a time-honored “What’s In Her Bag?” feature–is seldom surprising but compulsively readable.
Anyway, I love this stuff. Reading about the products in peoples’ daily rotation is abundantly interesting. Maybe I am extremely boring that way.
Their most recent addition, though, almost knocked me out of my chair: a Housing Works clerk with awesome hair revealed she unclogs dirty pores with… glue. And not some hydrating/clarifying/detoxifying/heroin-promises glue “specifically formulated” and $70 and devoted to this purpose, no. She uses good old Elmer’s Glue.
My natural skepticism kicked in here, much like it did when I first saw conventionally attractive towel-wearing blondes pull Bioré stripes off their noses in ’90s commercials and subsequently marvel at how the surface resembled a “cactus.” I bought those as a teenager, even as my parents rolled their eyes and said that a stick of tape would do the same (and be just as useless). They were right. [Sidebar: Some people swear by these things; I have never found them to do anything but draw up moisture and otherwise very normal top-layer skin stuff].
So, I wondered, was this any different? Can Elmer’s glue really get rid of blackheads?
I decided to find out and embarrass myself in the process.
My quest began with a trip to the grocery store, where I promptly learned you can’t get Elmer’s Glue at every grocery store. This made me feel like Jack Donaghy for a terrible fleeting moment.
So, I went to a pharmacy. When confronted by all the glues, I began to doubt my resolve. Isn’t this stuff bad for you? I wondered. It must be. Nothing there was intended to go on faces, so it suddenly seemed like a bad idea to start slathering mine with them.
Then again, I figured, as far as minor stunt pieces go, dousing “non toxic” glue on my person didn’t seem that terrible, so I grabbed the most classic-looking Elmer’s and went home.
Next, I washed my face and went for it. As you can see above, this is pretty ignoble. I poured on a lot more than I needed to and waited for the indignity to be over.
After about ten minutes, the sides of the glue puddle started to go transparent. After another five, only the thickest parts of the glue were wet. It was about here that I noticed my eyes were watering a bit–from glue fumes? Which means it’s a good time to mention that “glue allergies” are absolutely a thing, so hopefully you’re aware you have one before you go slathering it all over your face.
A few minutes later, I started to tug at it.
It was about here I remembered all the kids in elementary school who used to pour glue on their hands just for the sensation of peeling it off. Weird kids, mainly, but apparently a pretty common compulsion among five year olds. Our own Sam Escobar told me she used to volounteer with kindergartners and the urges were so strong she had to make glue a “sometimes tool.”
So, yes, obviously I took great satisfaction in peeling a puddle of glue off my face. But did it actually remove any blackheads?
Of fucking course not.
It’s Elmer’s Glue. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine how mankind could engineer a product that actually pulls grit out of human pores without it being extremely damaging to, you know, the other parts.
Still, I inspected the peel of dried glue in my hands and–though it wore an extremely accurate impression of my epidermis–it didn’t actually take anything meaningful up with it.
A few minutes later, the dread set in: when would the seemingly inevitable breakouts and dryness come? I put some soothing aloe-based cream on my nose and spent the next half hour trying to ignore the vague worry of encroaching skin trauma.
In summary, Elmer’s glue did not actually remove any blackheads from my face (or my friend’s, who did the experiment with me). Because obviously it did not. It was, however, a rather appealing exercise in minor neurosis, insofar as it was fun to take off.
With that in mind, I highly, highly recommend Boscia‘s brilliant White Mask (not paid placement, ps), which is an absolutely fantastic follow-up to their also-fantastic (and bestselling) Black Mask. It will give you the satisfaction of dumping white sticky gunk on your face and approximately the same satisfaction of peeling it off, but it’s also full of face-friendly ingredients (unlike, presumably, Elmer’s) and it’ll make your skin look dewy and radiant.
So, this was a pretty dumb experiment and I could have easily guessed how it was going to pan out. That being said, the Gloss is always happy to try stupid beauty shit so you don’t have to. Until next time!
(Photos: Jeremy Hunt Schoenherr)