Jillian Wright is a medical aesthetician and expert facialist at her own Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa. For years—she’s been practicing for two decades—Wright has been a proponent of extraction. Detractors say extraction, which is the removal by experts of whatever clogs your pores, from blackheads to mystery spots, can damage skin in the long run by weakening sensitive pore openings. Wright argues that a professional is trained to do this carefully, and that the point of a facial is to rid the skin of what ails it. “I feel like I would be stealing my client’s money if I didn’t perform extractions,” says Wright. Below, she explains the process (leaps and bounds from whatever you’re currently doing in the mirror) and expounds on the benefits of extraction, plus gives tips to keep your skin free of pore-clogging oil and dirt in the first place.
I recently had a new client who had never had a facial. For some reason, her mother told her never to touch her own face, or have anyone else touch it either. As I examined her skin under my magnifying lamp, I saw that every pore was full of oil. When you see black, gray, yellow or brown dots on your face, it is an open comedone, or blackhead. This is rancid oil! Rancid oil build-up will enlarge your pores, smell, and make your skin look ashen, discolored, and shadowed. An enlarged pore clogged with a blackhead is not only unsightly, it is deleterious to the pore itself over time, stretching it. I prepared her skin using the following techniques—the classic extraction process:
- Cleanse with the appropriate cleanser
- Exfoliate with a myriad of choices including enzymes (my favorite), AHA’s, gentle scrubs
- Apply warm sterile towels
- Use nutrient-rich oils to loosen the debris
- Perform extractions
- Calm the skin
- Use high frequency to promote healing
- Apply a calming mask
Her skin responded beautifully to the products and the massage. While I was doing her extractions, every pore was cooperative and the plugs (blackheads) came out easily. I was very pleased. She endured the discomfort (you can always take Advil), never complained and when she was done, she looked gorgeous. Pink and healthy, her wonderful skin wasn’t even splotchy (which can happen to certain skin types and is very common). I get very excited when I see these kinds of results. Next time I see her, she’ll go through fewer extractions, and on her third visit, fewer still.
Related Read: Jillian Wright And The Apothecary Bar
We retrain the skin to behave properly, and give you the proper foundation to care for your skin at home (between periodic facials, of course). We give you the tools to use at home—the right products in the right combinations for your skin type—to make the results of your facial last for a long time. But it all begins with understanding how to get your skin clean. And that means facials. And of course, facials mean extractions.
Everyone gets blackheads. Everyone. Here are a few tips to avoid them:
- Exfoliate at least two times a week with gentle exfoliant
- Don’t touch your face
- Use an appropriate moisturizer for your skin type
- Apply a detoxifying facial mask once a week
- Know your cycle (ladies!), and work to prevent whatever detrimental effects might occur
- Did I say don’t touch your face??
- If you must, with clean hands and a cleansed face, wrap your finger tips in cotton (separate a moistened cotton round) and use the soft pads of your fingers to ease out a blackhead. If it doesn’t budge, don’t force it. Never use your finger nails.
Jillian Wright, medical aesthetician practicing at Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa