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ESC: Extractions

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Extractions are best left to the professionals, but, really, who follows that advice?

When a juicy zit or deep-seated blackhead rears its ugly head, you already know that you're going to get rid of it by any and all means necessary. Not so fast. If you're going to dig in without prepping your skin, you could be setting yourself up for bigger, longer-lasting issues (a.k.a. nasty scars). 

Since that's probably not the look you're going for (clear skin is #goals), we asked celeb aesthetician Renee Rouleau for her number one tip for at-home extractions.

The Extraction Blunder: Most people don't take the time to prep their skin and loosen the debris. The dirt in clogged pores is solid (similar to the consistency of hard butter), so it doesn't exactly pop right out with ease. "If you have to attempt to remove the blackheads too many times (my general rule is three times), it can lead to scarring and skin damage," warned Renee.

Solution: In order to effortlessly get debris out of your pores you have to moisten your skin. That means cleaning it and steaming it. "For best results, remove blackheads immediately after a shower...this softens the hardened oil within the pore making for easier extractions," she said. Or if you have an at-home facial steamer, that works too. But the emphasis is on the immediate action. "Skin and the debris in the pore only stays soft as long as the skin is moist," elaborated Renee on her blog.

And if you want to keep the heat locked in a little longer? Apply a heavy moisturizer, like Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture, onto the area to trap the heat in the skin, which is necessary for extractions. "Then cover the area with plastic wrap and cover with a hot, damp washcloth for five minutes," shared the pro.

Calm skin with an alcohol-free toner, like Neutrogena Alcohol Free Toner, finish up with a cooling gel mask, like Renee's Bio Calm Repair Masque, and never worry about extraction scars again!