Video: That Time We Tried Pore Vacuuming In South Korea

Jun 13, 2017
Originally published on July 6, 2017 2:12 pm

South Korea in recent years has become the hot place for beauty product innovation, and it is often called the cosmetic surgery capital of the world.

By some estimates, South Korean women spend twice as much of their income on beauty products and grooming as American women — a figure that would be even higher if Korean beauty treatments weren't so affordable. (Treatments like facials and eyelash extensions can run as low as a third the typical U.S. price.)

One of the hot treatments for faces these days is pore vacuuming — also known as aqua peel facials — which I don't want to describe too much. You can see for yourself.

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Skin care in South Korea is serious business. Beauty products like sheet masks and special serums are among the country's hottest exports. So we sent NPR's Seoul correspondent Elise Hu to try out a new thing that is all the rage in South Korea.

ELISE HU, BYLINE: The process of pore vacuuming uses suction to remove oil and blackheads right out of your face. The suction wand works a lot like a home vacuum cleaner, but it's about the size of a magic marker. Beauty consultant Joyce Kong explains.

JOYCE KONG: So you can think of it as, step one is removing everything on your face, getting it to be as clean as possible. Then step two, they can really go in for the excavation.

HU: It's pretty painless, but you do feel the pulling at your pores.

Oh yeah, I think she's getting my nose pores. Oh, geez, you can hear it - oh, dear, oh, jeez. I can actually feel stuff being sucked up. This is gross.

Afterward, Joyce Kong asked to see what exactly came out of our faces.

KONG: This is the water that has come from the treatment.

HU: Sucking out our pores.

KONG: Yeah, so you can see - this is actually not so bad. The first time I got it done, you could literally see the squiggles swimming around in - (speaking Korean). This was mine. That's why.

HU: Dermatologist Dr. Jaewoo Choi said he could see some improvement.

How do my pores look?

JAEWOO CHOI: Very good, yeah, very good, yeah, very good.

HU: I don't think I'll ever get a facial again without a vacuum involved. Elise Hu, NPR News, Seoul.


PARK BO-RAM: (Singing in Korean).

MARTIN: I know you're curious, so to see what pore vacuuming looks like, check out the video. You can find it on the MORNING EDITION Facebook page and at


PARK: (Singing in Korean). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.