According to our recent survey, when asked why people get facials, the number one response was to get the pores cleaned out. Clogged pores and blackheads are certainly a big concern for many, and I happen to be an esthetician that believes extractions are necessary for the clarity of the skin, as long as they are performed properly and gently.
What are extractions? The extraction method is fairly simple: an esthetician properly softens the skin and then wraps his or her fingers in tissue (some use a metal extractor) and manipulate the skin at different angles to remove debris and impurities out of the pores. The goal of extraction is to be able to remove the congested oil without leaving significant redness and certainly scarring. (Note: Some post-extraction redness is normal, but generally should subside after 12-24 hours.)
But believe it or not when it comes to extractions, there is a right and wrong way – and unfortunately most professionals are taught the wrong way. What may surprise you is it’s not necessarily about the method – it’s that the skin is not properly softened beforehand to make blackhead removal easy. Here’s why:…
You probably think of steam as a way to soften and “open” the pores. That’s not really the case. What steam does is increase the temperature of the skin, which heats up the debris in the pore (which is normally the consistency of a hard butter). The heat can melt it to the consistency of a soft butter. But the key is, skin and the debris in the pore only stays soft as long as the skin is moist. As soon as the moisture from the steam evaporates, it instantly tightens the skin and makes extraction difficult. For the first three minutes, extraction can be easy, as the skin remains hydrated. However, if someone has a lot of impurities, keeping the skin moist for a long period of time is key, as once the skin tightens and dehydrates, the debris will be hard to come out. Unfortunately for the consumer, most estheticians do not properly soften the skin AND keep it moist during extractions and this is where the problem lies.
The best way to ensure the skin is properly prepared in a professional facial is this:
Step 1: After exfoliation, apply a serum and moisturizer.
Step 2: Steam the skin to get the skin moistened and warmed up.
Step 3: Turn off the steam and perform the facial massage (most estheticians do the facial massage AFTER the extractions.) When the face is massaged, it also heats up the skin to soften the oil and holds the moisture from the steam in the skin.
Step 4: Once the massage is done, perform extractions.
For those estheticians that are reading this, please incorporate facial massages before your extraction routine, as you will have much better results with not only the ability to clean pores but with less redness and discomfort for the client. Read about our famous seaweed mask that is used at the end of a facial to calm the skin.
For my skin care readers, I know it can be difficult to tell an esthetician how to do their job, but maybe there is a nice way to let yours know. Perhaps you can let them know that you’ve had facials before and find that it works better for your skin to perform extractions following the facial massage.
Extractions are an important part of a facial, and as long as they are done the correct way, everyone benefits. As a consumer, it is important for you to know the proper way to perform extraction – the one that produces the best results with the least discomfort.
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Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”