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Your guide to doing extractions on your skin at home

at home extractions
Photo: Shironosov/Thinkstock

People who struggle with the curse of adult acne are often divided into two camps: Team Pop and Team Don’t-You-Dare-Touch.

Can’t help yourself? Even experts can’t resist at times. Acting as certified dermatologists with extensive years of skin school, they utilize tools to do their very own at-home extractions. But the pros say most people are doing more harm than good.

If you’re ready, willing, and able to do an extraction but without the tool—which can be intimidating—Nourish Organic founder and CEO Rob Robillard says that the most important element for popping a pimple is heat. “Do your extraction at home after a long, hot shower,” he says. “Then, apply an alcohol-free toner, such as Nourish Organic Face Toner, to close the pores.”

Brave enough to take action with the tool? Just beware—doing it incorrectly could lead to ripped skin, which is not going to be good for your blemish situation. Alexandra Compton, Credo Beauty‘s in-house aesthetician, strongly advises to only extract blackheads (if you can resist those super annoying whiteheads). “Using the tool on pimples can cause scarring,” she says.

If you decide you’re going in, extraction tool and all, don’t be hard on the pimple (even though you’re angry at it). The key is to be gentle. Here’s how to go after it: “Hold the extraction tool at a 45-degree angle over the blackhead you’re trying to extract,” says Compton. “While holding the skin taut, firmly press the tool down over the blackhead and wiggle back and forth. Once you see it start to loosen (you will notice it slightly rise up from your skin), press down on the tool and you should see the blackhead release itself from your pore. Repeat on any remaining clogged pores.”

Then finish the battle with a topical treatment. Compton suggests using an anti-bacterial toner to avoid infection, such as Hana Organic Skincare’s Gentle Toner ($28).

The moral of the story? Kill your pimples with kindness (even when holding what looks like a scalpel in your hand for the sake of destroying them) and be precise.

Speaking of pores, can you really shrink them? Here’s the truth, once and for all. And for topical ways to fight your pimples, try these facial oils.