Should Your Esthetician Squeeze Blackheads?

Updated May 17, 2014.

Question: Why Does My Esthetician Squeeze Blackheads?

Imagine you’re lying in a quiet treatment room, soft music flowing around you along with the relaxing scent of lavender. The esthetician has just finished giving your face a cleansing steam bath, and then … ouch! Welcome to the extraction portion of your facial.

You’ve always been told not to pick at or pop your blackheads and blemishes. So why does your esthetician insist on doing it every time you get a facial?


Blackheads (comedones) are often manually removed, or extracted, from the skin during a facial treatment. First, the skin is prepared by lightly steaming the area. Your esthetician may also exfoliate the skin before extractions begin.

Next, the skin care therapist wraps her fingers in cotton or tissue and applies gentle pressure to the blackhead. Some therapists may also use a small metal implement called a “comedo extractor.”

With luck, the plug of sebaceous matter is coaxed from the pore. Not only do extractions immediately improve the look of the skin (especially if the blackhead was large and obvious), but done regularly, they can help reduce breakouts.

When done correctly, extractions don’t harm the skin, but extracting a blackhead correctly is easier said than done. It shouldn’t be forced to the surface. Care must be taken if a comedo extractor is used, because they can place a lot of pressure on the skin if used incorrectly.

Inflamed blemishes, cysts for example, should never be extracted except by your doctor. Applying any type of pressure to an inflamed pimple can damage the skin and cause scarring. Besides, it hurts!

Don’t be tempted to use your fingernails to squeeze your own blackheads. Incorrect technique can make your blemish worse, rather than better.