Do you have pimples, blackheads and congested skin? Is this just a way of life for you? Are you used to looking a little bumpy? Have you considered trying an extraction facial?
This is a long post, so let me summarise. I am 27 and have pimples and blackheads for as long as I can remember. I started having extraction facials with Sheridan at Shine Skin & Body in the Melbourne suburb of Kew, and my skin cleared up. My skin is smooth, and I can go weeks without a single blemish. If you have had a similar struggle, and you have tried everything, maybe extraction facials are the way to go.
Now for the long version. Settle in, because I really want to share my experience with you.
Here is my before shot. I had to really go through my photos to find these, because obviously I wore makeup to cover everything in the past and I would delete photos that showed how bad my skin was. I’m also a big fan of abusing the heal tool on Photoshop. But I think these three shots show what I was dealing with – big pores and blackheads on my nose, and congestion and pimples on my forehead. These aren’t from a really bad day, just a normal day. I also got random pimples on my cheeks, and blackheads and pimples on my chin. I never had acne, but my skin was always like this. I was reasonably positive about it all. It wasn’t like “oh I have one pimple how devastating” it was like “oh today I only have five pimples! What a clear skin day!” I am sorry you have to look at these, but this was my skin. I think "bumpy" is the best way to describe it.
I tried everything to clear that up. I just wanted nice clear skin that wasn't bumpy and congested. I had facials that seemed to be nothing more than putting a whole lot of different creams on my skin. I used Benzac, Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, and every single pimple treatment available in the supermarket. I experimented with masks and serums. I got scared that I was causing pimples by drying my skin out, so I added more moisturisers to my routine. Superficially, I did see results. The actual pimples would clear up once I attacked them with my many treatments. But nothing stopped them from forming. There was always something to conceal, and my T-zone was congested with pimples and blackheads. The only thing I didn’t try was antibiotics, because I didn’t really think it was serious enough to warrant that.
Eventually I noticed some really big blackheads on my cheek. They were massive. Bigger than the usual ones that clogged my pores. They were actually raised, and I was really aware of the bumps they caused under my makeup. I had them for weeks. I also wasn't working at bellabox at this stage, so I didn't have access to all the products I have now. After trying out everything, I thought maybe it was time to get an expert involved. I had heard about extraction facials, but didn’t know a lot about them. I did a bit of googling and came across this blog post that mentioned Sheridan at Shine Skin & Body, and which was full of glowing comments. Usually when you find reviews for great beauty salons they are in another city. But Shine Skin & Body was incredibly close to where I live. So of course I booked in straight away.
Now I just want to stress here that I basically thought I was going in to have those big blackheads removed, and maybe clean up some of what was on my nose and chin. I had no idea that my skin was about to be completely cleared up.
Sheridan really took the time to examine my skin and talk through my routine, what products I used and what makeup I wore. Then she looked at my skin under one of those really intense lights, and confirmed that extractions were exactly what I needed. She gave me a “this is what you have been searching for” talk – and I realised I was in very safe hands. It wasn’t just about blackheads. This would help clear up all those pimples as well.
The facial started off with an AHA/BHA peel to help exfoliate my skin and loosen things up. Then my face was misted with steam, to help open up my pores. Steam is very important in extraction facials, and if anyone tries to do extractions on you without steam tell them to stop! You could end up with scarring or infections.
Then the extractions began. And I realised just how much gunk was trapped under my skin. It felt like every pore on my face needed squeezing, and to be honest at that first facial that is probably the case! I lost track of time during my extractions, but I probably had about 30-40 minutes of them. This was followed up with a High Frequency machine, which is like a glass electrode that generates a little current to help kill bacteria, and helps your skin heal. After about an hour all up I was done.
So how does it work? There are no scary tools used with extractions. They are usually just done with fingers, gloves, a clean tissue and a little needle to help prick the skin and remove any really stubborn blackheads. And they do hurt a bit. Your pores, pimples and blackheads are being squeezed. We all have different pain tolerances, and I am a total wimp. But I am able to carry on a conversation while my skin is being extracted, so they really aren’t that bad! And the results are worth it.
Do extractions help acne?
If your skin is as congested as mine, you might get a shock when you look in the mirror after your first extraction facial. Your skin will probably look very red and raw. Mine definitely did that first time, although in my subsequent facials it has never been as bad. You may look worse than before. Don’t make any plans for that night. Trust me. And you will probably break out the next day. If you want to get this done before an event, get the facial at least a week before. If you combined your extraction facial with a peel, you might see some flaking. Don’t be afraid, this is all part of the process. After a few days your skin will start to look great!
I will note that one of my friends went and had an extraction facial with Sheridan on my recommendation and she didn’t do anywhere nearly as many extractions, because my friend didn’t need them. My friend also said they didn’t hurt, she didn’t break out the next day and her skin healed very fast. So it really depends on your skin.
I have now had six extraction facials, each time combined with a peel. And my skin has never been this good. Most of the time there is nothing to conceal. NOTHING! Yes I still get the odd pimple, particularly if I haven’t removed my makeup properly. That is my fault, and if I think about it I can usually trace it back to my beauty routine. I still use lots of products (many of which I have discovered through bellabox), I still wear makeup every single day, and I love my Foreo Luna. But there doesn’t seem to be anything hiding under the skin – no whiteheads or blackheads waiting to come out and play. And people actually comment on my skin now. Of course I then tell them this entire story!
And I know you want after shots. Here they are. I think the results speak for themselves.
Before and After
Some people aren't interested in extraction facials, and that's fine. There are so many skincare products out there, and you might find something that is perfect for you. You might even discover a product that works for you via one of our bellaboxes! But for right now, this is perfect for me. And combined with a great skincare routine, I have better skin than ever.