I Do My Own Pore Extractions at Home—Here's How
At the risk of losing my Beauty Editor badge, I'm going to put something out there. Something controversial. Here goes... I do pore extractions at home, and I think you should too. While a lot of people would warn you against going ham on your blackheads yourself, I am all for it if you know what you're doing. Not only is clearing the gunk out of your pores yourself satisfying in the extreme (don't pretend you don't follow @drpimplepopper), it can give you the cleanest looking skin you've had this side of a pro facial. Of course, there are dos and don'ts you'll want to follow to ensure you don't do any damage. If you're a sensitive type or are dealing with acne or another skin condition that demands the attention of a dermatologist, don't even think about it. It's not worth the risk. Same goes for anyone taking Roaccutane or unwilling to temporarily quit retinoids. If in doubt, ask a professional—scarring is for life, my friends. Ready and willing? Keep scrolling for my dos and don'ts.
Do: Prep Properly
Possibly the most important takeaway of this entire post, if you're going to squeeze your face at home you must prepare it for the trauma it is about to endure. Fact: Your level of skin preparation will either set you up for success or failure. I start by thoroughly cleaning my skin (I double-cleanse with an oil, followed by Go-To's Properly Clean foam cleanser, $31), then apply a self-heating scrub ($80) to purify. Then, I steam. Steaming moistens the skin and opens the pores thereby making them more obliging to manipulation. It also softens the gunk trapped in your pores which can make it easier to remove. Both benefits mean you'll squeeze less, lessening the chance of scarring. Note: This softening effect only lasts a few minutes, so you may need to steam and squeeze multiple times to treat your whole face.
Don't: Be Forceful
This should go without saying but Imma call it out anyway—always treat your skin with kindness and respect. Attempting to force a clogged pore to expel the grime inside when it's not ready will only end in tears. (One; it hurts. And two; you could create a wound or infection that takes a long time to heal.) Once I've located a pore I want to treat with the help of my magnifying mirror, I use a tissue and my fingernail to gently manipulate it from a few different angles until it releases any impurities. If the congestion isn't clearing out and my skin doesn't appear to be yielding to the pressure, I move on.
Do: Skip the Makeup
Once you've successfully extracted all willing pores, I highly suggest you swipe on an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory toner or essence (I like plain ol' Witch Hazel) to prevent spots from popping up. Next, spend five to fifteen minutes with a soothing mask on to calm down any redness. (Renee Rouleau's Bio Calm Repair Masque, $68, is a goodie.) I generally apply a hydrating serum at this stage and call it a day, mainly because I don't want to overwhelm my skin or clog up the pores I've just unplugged. For this reason I never apply makeup after a DIY extraction, and only ever perform one before bed.
Don't: Use Retinol
If you use retinol regularly (especially if it's prescription strength) you'll need to come off it at least a few days before you're planning to squeeze your face. Although retinol is a magical anti-ager, it can sensitise your skin. Wean your skin off it prior to extractions to prevent freaking out your face. (The same goes for a professional facial, BTW.)
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