When to Pop Pimples + DIY Steps for Facials at Home


Photo by Marley Sutter

When it comes to removing pimples, using antibacterial products, cold compresses, and spot treatments with ingredients such as salicylic acid (SA) are always the best first step. If you have sensitive skin, salicylic acid is the safest choice. SA works by stopping inflammation (redness, swelling) and killing bacteria trapped within the pore. Most store-bought products contain 3-5% of SA, which is a safe potency for home care. However, Estheticians have higher strengths and varieties and can perform peels that quickly dissolve the problems associated with congestion.


If you decide to skip the peel, physically unclogging the pore should be done with extreme caution and with a sterile extractor; damage may be caused by applying too much pressure to the pore. This can cause it to rupture beneath the skin, leading to pain, bleeding, and scarring. Extractions should only be attempted for superficial acne as it can worsen deep, cystic pimples.  If you can extract, you will reduce the swelling and allow soap and pimple-dissolving ingredients to penetrate the pore. Visiting a qualified professional for this treatment is always the safer option.

The human body is smart and creates micro-environments such as pimples, cysts and blisters to heal itself. These bumps form to allow white blood cells to kill bacteria and clear cellular debris. Skin bumps are unsightly, and we typically want to remove them quickly. However, there are times when you would want to leave a bump intact and other times it is safe to remove. The bump itself can cause collateral damage through extensive swelling that could last a couple of days to weeks. Sometimes it’s best to get rid of the clog and release the pressure. As it stays, the bacteria and pressure build up, allowing the pimple to become larger in size; at this point, melanocytes (cells that produce pigment) step in and try to be helpful, but sometimes leave a dark mark (scar) behind.

Quick summary

  • Extraction works best if the clogged pore is superficial and caught early; unclogging the pore can stop it from growing.
  • If the acne is older, deeper, and cystic, you’d be doing more damage by opening it up yourself.



When appropriate, here are some simple steps for a DIY facial

  1. Wash your face twice with an antibacterial cleanser.
  2. Saturate a clean washcloth with steaming hot water, then take the towel and carefully press it onto your face for 3 minutes. Steaming opens up your pores and loosens oil and debris.
  3. Use cotton-wrapped fingers (or an extractor tool) and gently press around your pores to loosen debris.
  4. Wash your face one more time with an antibacterial cleanser.
  5. Use a scrub like Chiara Polish that has antibacterial properties and salicylic acid that will exfoliate and remove your dead skin cells.
  6. Apply a mask with ingredients like kaolin or bentonite to absorb oils and deposit skin nourishing minerals into your skin.
  7. Gently rinse and follow with your toner, serums, moisturizer and of course, SPF 30 depending on the time of day.

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