What Is an Extraction?
An extraction is the process of clearing a clogged or compacted pore by manual or mechanical means. Extractions are often performed as part of a facial. Most people need at least a couple of extractions during each facial, though you may require more extractions if this is your first facial.
Comedones (blackheads) are the most common reason for extraction. A blackhead is not necessarily “dirt in the pores” as many people think. It is a pore that has become clogged with excess sebum and dead skin cells. The dark spot which is visible on the surface of the skin is oil which has oxidized and darkened on exposure to the air, like when you slice an apple and allow it to sit out for a while.
Pustules and pimples can also be extracted, depending on their size and depth. Some pores may not be ready to be extracted on the first attempt and may require several treatments before they can be cleared.
What to expect
First, the esthetician will cleanse your skin. Often a fluid or enzyme is applied to the skin with steam for a few minutes to soften the skin and prepare it for easier extractions.
Extractions are performed under a magnifying lamp with a bright light so that your esthetician can easily see the pores that need to be deep-cleansed. Eye pads or protective eyewear will be placed on your eyes to protect them from the bright light. The esthetician wears gloves and fingers wrapped in gauze or cotton, and applies gentle pressure around the pore to extract the contents. While it doesn't happen to everyone, it is normal for pimples to ooze, bleed, turn red, swell up and crust over as your skin heals and repairs.
After the extractions
Following extractions, an antiseptic/antibacterial product is generally applied to bring the skin back to an acid pH, and to aid in preventing post-facial breakouts. Often, a soothing mask is applied following extractions to help calm the skin, reduce redness and heal blemishes.
Why you should leave extractions to your esthetician
Many clients with acne are tempted to pick or pop. To achieve healthy, clear skin, it is important to keep your hands away from your face and let your professional esthetician do these extractions. Home extractions can damage your pores and spread bacteria, making the skin worse instead of better—you can break the pore wall inside the skin, pushing bacteria out into the surrounding tissue and spreading the breakout. Your esthetician knows how to clear the clogged pores without spreading infection and inflammation.