See that tiny pearly ball on the tip of the needle? That, my skin-savvy friends, is milia. And they’re a pain to remove.
Milia are white hard cysts trapped under the skin – sometimes incorrectly called “baby acne,” although it is not actually a form of acne. They’re caused by using products that are too rich or creamy for your skin, says our go-to dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett: “They are oil deposits and appear like little white balls of oil under the skin. Patients with milia should use gel based, water based products to prevent getting them.”
Extraction using a sterilized needle with a skilled aesthetician or dermatologist is the only way to rid of these suckers. I usually have one or two around my lower eye area from applying eye cream too closely to the lower lash line (Giselle, our contributing medical aesthetician, recommends emulsifying the cream between your fingers first to break up the cream’s big molecules so it doesn’t clog it pores). But, as of yesterday, I had about 12-15 milia bumps all over my face.
The culprit? Dr. Kellett is right: product overload. I’ve been testing a line of anti-aging products for one month that has proven to be much too heavy for me. Meant for reducing hyper-pigmentation, the line (which I’ll blog about soon) was a system that consisted of a lotion cleanser, a sunscreen, a 20% glycolic lotion, and brightening (hydroquinone-free) night cream. It dried out my combination skin to the point where it reacted by producing more sebum. This excess oil got trapped underneath and lead to a face full of milia. I didn’t notice how bad it got until one day last week when I noticed a tiny one on my eye lid.
What The Yuck?! I wanted it gonzo STAT!
Dr. Kellett and her staff have been fully booked all week, so I went to see my next port of call for complexion woes…
She’s my hungarian facialist at
Revive Med Spa Biovital Med Spa and she’s a master at milia removal. I’ve seen many aestheticians in my lifetime, having worked in the salon and spa industry all throughout my twenties. And let me tell you, not everyone can remove milia correctly! I’ve had women poke and prod my milia with rusty blackhead removal tools and talon-like finger nails. Not fun. Lots of tears involved. And the scars left behind took months to fade.
Beatta is different because she has a swift and gentle hand with the needle; first she pricks the spot just once to open up the bump, then she uses her fingers to gently squeeze out the pearl-shaped gunk. She gave me a light microdermabrasion before hand to prep my skin; commenting that she has never seen my skin this bad before.
After the session, Beatta, who I’ve been seeing (off-and-on) for a year, had a long hard chuckle at my expensive, saying “mila is a job hazard for you, my dear.” She advised me to stop using the hyper-pigmentation line and return to my derm’s gel-based products. So I’m going back on the Kellett Skincare Clear system, and be particularly more diligent with their Gel Moisturizer because it contains brightening compounds that will help fade the discolouration left behind from dermal dramas like this…
Don’t worry, those extraction marks across my cheeks will fade in a few days with proper care. Before I left the medi-spa, Beatta, god bless her motherly heart, gifted me with a souvenir: one of the needles she used. Yup, a few of my extracted milia pearlies are in this vile…
I should totally tape this onto my bathroom mirror as a reminder to go easy on the product testing!
Have you had milia extracted before? Tell me about your experience.