Not to get all Coach Carr from Mean Girls on you, but the general consensus of skin experts on at-home pore extractions, much like popping a pimple, is akin to passing out condoms to high schoolers: "We're not encouraging it, but if they're going to do it, let's make it safe," said aesthetician Candace Marino.


In all their gooey glory, excavating a blackhead can be wildly satisfying — a top guilty beauty indulgence, to be sure — but, like many tricky-to-do services, is often best left to the pros. Still, if you can't peel yourself away from the 10x magnifying mirror any time you step into the bathroom, Marino has some best practices to DIY facial extractions safely.


The first (and oddly, the trickiest) step is to identify a blackhead from something else. Those little dots smattered across your nose, for example? You might be mistaking them for sebaceous filaments. "Blackheads will be raised, textured, truly black, thick and waxy," she said. "The skin oils solidify, forming plugs which can dilate the pore further, leading to enlarged pores. Sebaceous filaments are the normal function of the follicle. Narrow, lighter in color under the skin — they do not fully obstruct the pore and are not meant for extractions."


Then, Marino's full step-by-step guide ahead. As for that black extraction extraction tool you've heard all about? In the words of Coach Carr: just don't do it, OK? Promise?



Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Pro Facial Steamer




Just like in most facials after you cleanse the skin, you'll want to introduce some heat. (Although Marino noted this step is "not recommended for anyone with melasma or hyperpigmentation.") This can help soften the pores and make it easier to extract the debris perched up inside.


You can buy a ready-made steamer like the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Pro Facial Steamer ($149) to make the process easy, or you can go the more cost-effective route. Simply boil hot water on the stove, throw some tea in the water to amp up the spa-like sensorial experience, and "hover over the pot with a towel over your head to trap in steam for five minutes," she said. "Don't do any longer or it can cause transepidermal water loss and dehydration."



Oxygen Infusion Wash




Next, and to "keep face free from cellular build up and environmental sludge," you'll want to cleanse the skin. Marino recommends a face wash with light exfoliating acids like the Oxygen Infusion Wash ($38) to keep pores clean.


Stay away from overly drying ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide, since overuse can create a rebound effect and kick sebum production into overdrive.




Finally, you'll want to cool the skin. For immediately after the at-home extractions, Marino recommended a facial roller device. "The StackedSkincare Ice Roller ($30) is ideal for immediate inflammation reduction and pain," she said. Then, in the next few days, reach for a hydrating, calming, and soothing serum like the iS Clinical HydraCool Serum ($94) to address any redness that may pop up afterward.





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April 20, 2020 — Candace Marino