What You Should Know About Extractions in a Facial

The Part of A Facial That Can Hurt!

••• It's important that an esthetician wear gloves when doing extractions. 101 Dalmatians / Getty Images

Do you have blackheads all over your nose?  How about white bumps on your forehead that won't go away?  The best way to get rid of them is to go to an esthetician, who is trained in their removal -- a process called "extractions" -- during a professional facial.  The worst way to get rid of them is to pick at them yourself, which can cause scarring and infection.  

There are a lot of products out there that promise to help you do your own extractions, but they usually have a downside.

 "Deep cleansing pore strips" literally rip off your outer later of skin and sometimes pull off the tip of a blackhead, but leave the pore mostly clogged.  

You can buy the same extracting tool that some estheticians use, but if you haven't prepared the skin in the same way and you don't know proper technique, you won't get the same results and might even do some damage.  This is your skin, and if you treat it too aggressively, you can end up with scarring.

Extractions are one of the most important part of a facial if you have blackheads or whiteheads, because a skilled esthetician can remove them more safely than you can. But it's important you find a good, experienced esthetician to work with. 

So what does the esthetician know that you don't?  For one thing, she knows how to prepare the skin properly.  Extractions take place after the skin has been thoroughly cleansed, exfoliated and steamed, which helps soften up the plug of sebum and dead skin cells that is clogging a pore.

 The combination of manipulation from her hands, the warm steam and your own perspiration combine to loosen the plug so that it releases more easily when she applies pressure.  

Here's What You Need To Know About Extractions

  • Look For The Gloves. The esthetician should always wear gloves when performing extractions. The esthetician is dealing with body fluids, and if she doesn't wear gloves, it means she's not that clean or careful in her work.
  • Fingers Or Extraction Tool? Estheticians can remove blackheads with their index fingers, covered in cotton, by applying pressure to either side of the blackhead and gently coaxing it from the follicle. Some estheticians prefer to use a stainless steel tool that has a loop at one end. It's faster and can get into awkward places, but some clients find it hurts more.
  • Whiteheads Are Harder To Remove. Whiteheads have a layer of dead skin cells that have grown over the plug of sebum. The esthetician has to make an opening in the skin with a lancet, a small, sharp, surgical blade that comes in a sterile packet. These are harder to remove and take more time. The use of lancets is illegal in some states, and some resort and hotel spas don't allow their estheticians to use them.
  • Extractions Can Hurt. Different people have different pain thresholds. People with thicker, oiler skin are usually less sensitive, while people with thinner skin are usually more sensitive. Estheticians also vary in how aggressive they are. Speak up if it hurts too much.
  • Extractions Can Cause Damage If Not Done Correctly. Too much pressure can cause broken capillaries on people with sensitive, reddened skin (called couperouse). It can cause dark spots called hyperpigmentation on people with black skin. And inflamed areas should not be extracted, because the infection might spread.
  • Don't Have An Extraction Marathon. Extractions shouldn't last more than ten minutes. If you have a lot of blackheads and whiteheads, don't expect to get rid of them in one session. Too many extractions at one time can be traumatic to the skin.
  • Extractions Are Important! If you have acne or blemishes, extractions are the most important part of the facial for you. Once the follicles are cleared out, your skin should start to improve. You may want to get facials every two weeks until your skin is clear. It's also important to follow up with the right products and a good home skin care routine.