Whilst treating the lovely @zotheysay recently, the topic of extractions came up. Zoe asked me to extract a few blackheads, I said no!
Now, I love the beauty old-school. Mine is a profession with amazing depth of heritage and knowledge.
But for this request, my ‘No’ was firm.
The reason being, I don’t believe that the method of steam and squeeze is good for the skin. I admit this old school practice can be incredibly satisfying. It provides instant results and can be very gratifying. However we’ve now learned that this method can cause many side effects including infection, inflammation, pigmentation, large pores and even scarring. It can be especially risky for those of us with darker skin.
I’ve seen and had to treat these side effects many, many times. So, what to do instead?
For regular day to day care, try using a cleanser with salicylic acid or lactic acid, ensure that you exfoliate two to three times per week and go easy on oil based makeup and rich, heavy skin care. Use a retinol or AHA serum at night and always cleanse your makeup off before bed. It’s also important to change your pillowcase regularly and clean your mobile phone with an antibacterial wipe at least once per week.
For professional treatments try a deep cleanse via ultrasound, this is also known as sonopheresis. It works by loosening dirt, oil and debris on the skin and coaxing it gently out of the pores. Microdermabrasion and gentle peels are great for black heads and congestion. For stubborn whiteheads, an opening needs to be created with a sterile, fine gauge needle or lancet and then drawn out with, ultrasound an extraction fluid or mask.
If you really must squeeze a spot, read below.
Ensure that it’s ready. A good way to tell is that the surface should appear white, with a translucent look to the skin on top.
Then, with clean hands, sterilise a fine sewing needle with a flame or alcohol.
Be sure to let the needle cool if using a flame, then gently pierce the head of the pimple with the needle to create an opening, this prevents breaking the skin open further than is necessary.
Next, separate a tissue into two, and wrap your index fingers with each part.
It’s important to first press downwards, roll both fingers in, then push up, as this ensures you don’t spread the sebum further under the skin.
Stop squeezing once blood appears. Finish off by applying witch hazel or an antibacterial drying spot treatment.
If you think you may have a blind pimple, (these develop deeper in the skin and have no head or opening – they’re usually a little swollen and painful and most likely to appear on the jaw line, chin and lower face.) Firstly, don’t try and squeeze it. This will only cause inflammation, redness, swelling and possible scarring.
Begin by icing the area with an ice cube to reduce swelling and inflammation.
The following day apply a warm compress by placing face a towel in hot water, wring it out and apply to the area to stimulate blood flow and lymphatic flow.
This will help to flush the area and draw the pimple to the surface.
Apply a drawing mask with kaolin and zinc to further draw out impurities and finish with a spot treatment or drying lotion.