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  • Writer's pictureBloom

The Trouble with Extraction Facials

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a facial that would restore your skin to the tone and texture you had when you were…say…4 years old?  Don’t we wish!

Matter of fact, it would be really cool if a single facial could do some real magic, and sometimes it can.  But sometimes it can’t.  Here’s why:

We live in Colorado.  This means that our skin is subject to harsh, dry conditions both in winter AND in summer.  More than once I’ve talked to clients about their vacations to Hawaii or other amazing moist places (is it just Coloradoans who hate the word “moist” lol?)  and they’ve told me they had heaven skin there.  Literally, skin aglow, soft and amazing, like an angel…and then back to Colorado and its de-“mile-high”-dration.

So what this means is that our skin is often holding things in due to the dry outer layer of skin. 

If you add certain things to the mix like mud masks, acne toners and other things that can dehydrate the skin, you may just be adding to the congestion- which is the esthetician word for “blackheads” and other types of hyperkeratinization (too much skin protein on the surface).  So when I have clients come in for a facial where they would like some of this congestion removed, it’s often a no-go.

I really wish I had a magic wand that I would wave over the skin and just get it to release it’s dry little pore hostages, but alas, there is no such thing.  

Here’s the deal:  In Colorado (and other dry places) you have to A) Hydrate the skin all the time and B) Probably use acids on a regular basis.  The hydration keeps the skin and the contents of the pore hydrated and the acids help to dissolve the “glue” that keeps all the gunk stuck in the skin.  A single facial is great as a first step in hydrating the skin, but the skin needs weeks of hydration and acids to begin to respond to extractions in a healthy way- not to mention the maintenance use of these products.

I’ve had too many clients come to me who have been traumatized by an esthetician who used too much force to try to get the extractions to actually extract and this is never a good thing.

It can cause some emotional trauma but can ALSO cause trauma to the skin.  Neither of those are acceptable outcomes.  I do understand why some estheticians might do this.  Actually, there are probably two reasons:  They want you to feel like you are getting a good value for your money- meaning they are trying to “get the job done” but it’s also possible that they are simply a very determined esthetician who likes a challenge.

My clients who have oilier or really well-hydrated skin don’t usually have too much of a problem with extractions, so we are often able to make good progress with those skin types.

One other thing worth mentioning is that it didn’t take an hour for those pores to get clogged, so it will definitely take more than an hour’s treatment for them to get unclogged. 

For most people with congested skin, I recommend they start with a gentle glycolic acid cleanser, toner (I recommend The Ordinary), serum or moisturizer to break up the congestion (depending on their skin type) and to clear the pore out over time (and hopefully keep the pore clear with continued use).  Retinols can also be very helpful for this purpose, but with either active ingredient, you might experience a bit of purging as the skin adjusts to the new additions to your skincare regimen.  Also, you must must must use sun protection when using acids or retinols (although there are studies that now say retinols don’t increase your risk for sun sensitivity, wearing sunscreen is probably the most significant anti-aging strategy you can have), and typically do not use the acids or retinols during the day unless your specific skin-care protocol requires it.

Another issue with extraction facials is that you typically can’t extract a lesion that is red, inflamed and deep in the skin.  We can calm those and try to kill bacteria with chemicals or devices such as high frequency, but unless the blemish is ready to be extracted, it’s not going anywhere.  A dermatologist can inject cortisone into those types of blemishes if you are in dire need, but deeper, cystic acne type lesions need time (and nutrients) to heal, anti-inflammatories (salicylic acid, ice, fish oils internally) and a closer look at diet and lifestyle to determine the cause.

Occasionally, my clients also feel that their skin is more congested than I do, and this may be because they have a different vantage point and lighting than I have in my office.  It’s also possible that they might have a little acne dysmorphia as well- where they see more flaws and blemishes than are actually there.  And then there’s the picking…so we will have lots more to cover in future posts.

Hopefully, this bit of information has helped you understand a little more about what you can expect from an extraction facial and will help you prep your skin for your next appointment with your skincare specialist.

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