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DIY Extractions

DIY Extractions aka "picking zits"

Excoriators we call you in the business. I get it. You wake up one morning and there is an unwanted visitor in the mirror and you want it gone. right. now. Physically abusing a blemish will not make it go away any faster but may leave you with scarring and post inflammatory pigmentation, that is, a brown spot where the blemish used to be.

I'm not foolish enough to think I can convince you to give up picking forever, but I would like to convince you to at least do it in the safest, gentlest way possible. First let's look at the steps professionals take to extractions.

Cleansing - We would never perform extractions on anything but a thoroughly clean face and neither should you.

Warming - either through steam or hot towels. This softens the follicles to make extractions much, much easier.

Exfoliation - whether using mechanical exfoliation, enzymes or acid, this removes dead skin cells and basically helps to clear the way for the extraction of the pustule (pimple) or comedone (blackhead)

No bare hands! - an esthetician performing extractions will wear gloves and wrap fingertips in moistened gauze or cotton. This is both to avoid introducing any bacteria and protects the skin from fingernails and potential bruising. You can use cotton or the method I teach my clients using Qtips.

After cleansing, warming and exfoliating, place two Qtips, held near the tip and moistened with antiseptic, at the 9 and 3 position. Gently push down and then up towards the center. If extraction was not successful, rotate the position of the Qtips and try again. This prevents continued pressure in the same location that may cause bruising. If you've rotated through 3 positions without success, the blemish isn't ready and you'll have to battle another day. If you are successful, make sure to apply antiseptic and wait before applying makeup or other product. Remember - never attempt an extraction on a blemish without a visible head.

Patience pays. It's preferable to warm exfoliate and treat with benzoyle peroxide or a salicylic acid product such as PCA acne gel but if you can't resist self extracting, try to do it in the safest, gentlest way possible.

Healthy skin is beautiful.