Raise your hand if you've ever gotten a facial, gotten the life sucked out of your pores, then broken out a few days later? I'm assuming most of your hands are mentally raised, because based on the flurry of texts I get on a monthly basis from freaked-out friends, begging me to tell them how to fix their post-extraction zits, it's an all-too-common—and shitty—side effect of facials.
The thing is, breakouts shouldn'tactually be the normal side effect of extractions or facials. Extractions, when done correctly, can clear closed comedones (AKA those tiny, flesh-colored bumps that never come to a head, yet never really go away), remove whiteheads and blackheads, and give your skin a newer, fresher foundation for your skincare products to penetrate. Basically, extractions can be the kiss of life for your blah, broken-out skin.
But to reap those super-excellent benefits, you need a ridiculously well-trained skin expert—ahem, a dermatologist, and not a random person in a dingy corner spa (sorry, dingy corner spa owners)—to use a special combination of tools and gloved fingers to know when and how to press and massage the gunk from your pores.
Because yes, there are very specific methods to extractions, which you probably already knew, based on the fact that the last time you went to town on your skin, you were left with scars, inflamed bumps, and long-lasting redness.
"The thing is, you really do need a very skilled professional, like a reputable dermatologist, to properly extract clogged pores," says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. "If you use incorrect pressure, or go in at the wrong angle, you easily disrupt the integrity of your follicles, leading to inflammation and breakouts." And, adds Zeichner, "you need an expert who knows which pores are pickable, and which are absolutely not pickable, which is unfortunately not an automatic, easy skill."
Of course, that's not to say you should avoid any aesthetician or facialist who tries to give you extractions (though, if you were my friend IRL, I'd absolutely only recommend getting them done by a top-rated derm, just to be safe), but make sure to do your research, first.
"You can't always get extractions covered by insurance, so I get why people tend to go to aestheticians, but some of them are definitely not trained," says Zeichner. "So you need to look at their credentials, make sure your skin is thoroughly cleaned, make sure they wear gloves, and ensure that all of their instruments are sterilized."
Or, you could just place your face in the literal hands of a stranger, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. That's always worked out in the past, right?
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