Professional Extractions that Won’t Scar Your Skin

an esthetician prepping a woman for a facial

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.

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.

Read: My 3-Step Plan for Reducing Blackheads

Read: Renée Rouleau Shares the Pros and Cons of Being an Estheticians

Read: Ten Reasons to Get a Facial

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Disclaimer: Content found on and, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.


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  1. What about the use of a disencrustation solution while the skin is being steamed. I am also a licensed esthetician and I was taught, at school, to apply a disenscrustation solution on the the comedones and then apply steam. This method works fairly well but I am always looking to improve myself and learn new things. Please give me your opinion on the disencrustation solution verses a serum and moisturizer to soften comedones. Also, my steps before extraction are: superficial cleanse, cleansing massage, exfoliation and then extraction. Would that massage in the 2nd step help to warm up the skin and soften the debris? Thank you for such a great article!

    Posted By: Kenna Morgan  | 

    • Hi Kenna, this method works just fine as well. The main thing is to keep the skin soft 🙂

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  2. Hi! I have Rosacea and my face can’t handle steam… what can I do instead?

    Posted By: Donna  | 

    • Heavier moisturizers and cream-based masks can soften the pores in place of steam.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  3. Dear Renee,
    Can I use a pair of cotton bud to help extracting the comedon?
    I feel my finger tips are too big and slippery.
    Many thanks and healthy regards,

    Posted By: Chatuphon  | 

  4. Hi! I know this is already an old post. But im just wondering if is it okay if i have red blotches and scabs on my forehead where the extraction took place? Will it heal naturally? Im worried. I think the facialist did extraction the wrong way. Hoping for your reply. Thank you so much

    Posted By: Jill  | 

    • Scabbing can occur for two reasons. 1. If you had an infected blemish that was extracted and the skin was opened, a scab will always appear from this. 2. If they extracted the pores and they rubbed on the skin too much and applied a chemical peel, the skin could have gotten a bit scabby. (This is why an esthetician has to be careful about what goes on the skin post-extractions.) I’m not sure the reason for your scabbing but these are just some possibilities. But yes, it should heal naturally but you might want to contact the esthetician who gave you your facial and see if they have recommendations.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  5. Great info! I often wondered why extract so “soon” but this makes sense. I enjoy your website…thank you for this newly acquired knowledge!

    Posted By: Regina  | 

  6. Dear Renee,

    I am in my early twenties and I regularly get cystic acne on my chin and around the mouth area. I have a pretty good skin regimen and never pick these painful cysts. However, my local esthetician who does my facial extractions believes that these deep cysts should be extracted, too. Do you think that the best way to manage cystic acne includes their extraction? Or is the risk of scarring too high when it comes to these painful cysts? Also, in general, what is the best way to treat these painful monsters? Thank you.

    Posted By: Bota  | 

    • Hello Bota, From the information you have given me, it doesn’t sound as those cysts should be extracted at all. Mainly because cystic infection is NOT meant to come out the skins surface. Read this post about how to heal a blemish fast.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  7. Greetings Renee – I know this post is old, but I am wondering if you can offer your expertise. What post treatment can I do if extractions were done improperly and they have scabbed over and my face is still red after 72 hours. Thank you for your help!

    Posted By: Chase  | 

    • Hi Chase, Put some neosporin ointment on there and just let them heal naturally. They’ll go away soon.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  8. As you said in step 1 that use moisturizer after steam, my question is that do we have to remove that moisturizer before applying the massage creme or we just add that massage creme on same skin?

    Posted By: samia  | 

    • Step 1 indicated to use moisturizer before steam. I didn’t mention anything about massage cream. Simply massage using the moisturizer that is applied in step one. Re-read the instructions.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  9. Can I use massage cream or oil for facial massage before extractions ? Will it clog pores and will it make oily and acne skin break out more afterwards? Thank you

    Posted By: Joanna  | 

    • Sure you can use that. Just make sure you remove it well.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 


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