Pore Pressure

Posted on November 19th, by Helen in Blog, Skincare, Treatments. 20 comments

Pore Pressure

Some facialists feel that extractions play a crucial part in delivering an effective facial while others feel they are cruel and unnecessary. Where do I stand on the topic? If you had asked me ten years ago, I’d say they’re the best part of facials, but ask me today, and I’d tell you to avoid extractions at all costs.

It took me a decade to learn this.

When I was 22 I was managing a salon a spa, and one of the employee benefits were free facials. I took advantage of this perk every month for years. I thought I had the best skincare habits out of every one of my peers whom were all, on the other hand, using drugstore cheapies like nose strips and $2 clay mask packets to clear their pores at home. Not me though, when I had any a bump of any dermal kind (blackheads, whiteheads, milia) I got those suckers poked and squeezed out by an esthetician, before they had a chance to grow any bigger.


comedone extractor

Over the years I became so accustomed to the extraction process – prick the bump with a needle or a metal comedone extractor, squeeze out the gunk using both index fingers – that I even bought these tools from a local beauty supply outlet store so I could do my own extractions at home.

Flash forward to ten years later, I’m working an office job without the facial perks, wondering why it seems like my face was growing barnacles, tiny hard bumps, and crater-sized holes.

It wasn’t until recently when I completely gave up the spa facials and turned to medical resurfacing skin treatments that I began to see visibly smoother skin and pores slowly obliterating.

I brought the topic of facial extractions up at my last meeting with my dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Kellett. Her reply was mind blowing: You should never get extractions. “Extractions are rapidly falling out of favour,” Dr. Kellett says, “It’s a very old way to treat the skin, and there is very little evidence-based medicine to suggest it’s helpful to the skin.”

Dr. Kellett went on to list three reasons why extractions are not good for your skin:

  1. Extractions can cause cysts and scars.
  2. Extractions can case big pores. Even if it didn’t cause a cyst or a scar, the repeated trauma to the pilosebaceous unit (pores) will actually dilate the size of it.
  3. Extractions do more harm than help. Studies have shown that after extractions, the pore will fill up within 36-48. So unless you’re doing extractions every 36-48 hours you’re really not doing anything but if you were getting extractions done that often, pores will get bigger.

Instead of facials with extractions, Dr. Kellett suggests looking to clinical exfoliating treatments such as diamond peels (microdermabrasion), liquid peels (there are several that use acids such as lactic, glycolic azealic acid), and laser peels for both immediate and lasting results. “Those treatments are more concise ways to treat acne-prone and aging skin as they decrease the trauma to the pores.”

The medical route to skin maintenance (personalized care from a doctor and modern technology) has made all the difference in my skin. And because my skin seems to be getting better and better after each clinical peel – I now have smaller pores, smoother texture, more glow and predictability with my skin – my confidence and sense of well-being has improved significantly. Facials are so yesterday.

Sound off! What do you think of traditional spa facials (steam, cleanse, extractions, mask) versus clinical treatments (e.g. lasers and peels)? Let me know in the comments sections below.





  • edwinalynn

    Your post is slowly pushing me towards the ‘no extraction’ side. I’m still sorely tempted by the lure of clean skin “look ma! no pores”, but the threat of enlarged pores down the line is scary. How often do you get peels?

    • http://theskiny.com/ Helen Vong

      I know what you mean. It took me a very long time to give up that perceived feeling of cleaner skin from a facial. But I’ve got the large pores and milia bumps to show for it! I did a series of three laser peels spaced one month apart recently to level off the bumpy texture and stimulate collagen production to help with fine lines and acne scarring. Now I’m on maintenance with just microdermabrasion and IPL every two months or so. Frequency really depends on your concerns, so it’s best work with a reputable dermatologist to map out a personal game plan that works for your budget and skin goals. Hope that helps!

  • Amanda Raponi

    I totally agree! Extractions hurt, and I definitely have some bigger pores on my nose from them. I switched recently to a Jet Peel, which is a tool that kind of pressure washes your face (it’s basically microdermasion), instead gently pushing the infection to the surface of the skin, and kind of pushes out the blackheads and whiteheads. Much gentler and no down time.

    I wrote about it here: http://vanitypresse.blogspot.ca/2013/09/jet-peel-facial-of-future.html

    • http://theskiny.com/ Helen Vong

      Thanks for sharing your post. I checked it out, that facial sounds amazing!

      • Amanda Raponi

        It really is great! I’m obsessed with skincare and was so happy to stumble upon your blog today!

        • http://theskiny.com/ Helen Vong

          Aw thanks. I’m loving your blog too! Great to meet a fellow skincare junkie ;)

  • Lynda Samson

    Wow I had no idea that extractions can lead to big pores. It’s all making sense to me now! I have been getting facials all my life, I’m 44 and I have gigantic pores. I’m starting to use retin A now to hopefully tighten them up.

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  • Jennav

    I cannot afford seeking professional help and I too have huge pores especially beside the nose and forehead. I’m consistent with DIY facials and use products like Aveda deep cleansing mask, which smells great, also have Pro Olay microdermabrasion kit that seemed to instantly work but not seeing results as far as pore size. After reading this I will stop extracting but will I see a difference?

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