We’ve all been there. Waking up to find the unholiest marking on one’s face: the dreaded pimple. Be it in its earliest stages of small and tender, to primed and ready to pop, the pimple – in its myriad evil incarnations – is there to wreck your day, no matter what.

It don’t matter if it’s black or white, red or pink, pimples do not discriminate. And whilst our first inclination is to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze (trust us, every damn time), everyone in high (beauty) places tell us otherwise. That is, unless you’re in salon and under the dutiful care of a trained skin practitioner. Enter the extraction. A concept that often conjures up both fear and curiosity in the beauty Zeitgeist, extractions are an expert’s answer to going gung-ho on a zit at home. Basically, it’s the responsible way to remove a pimple. So what marks a salon extraction different to a good ol’ fashioned at-home squeeze? A lot of things, according to skin expert and star facialist Diandra Politano.

Here, we squeeze the truth about extractions and pimples out of Politano, who sets the squeezing record straight, once and for all.

1. Are extractions important? And why?

Absolutely! Especially on our open pores. Our pores will fill up with dirt and then once that pore has no more room it will grow to make more. As we get older our skin cell turn over slows down and our skin does not repair or bounce back as quickly. By keeping the pores clean you are stopping further build up and the pore size grow.

2. What warrants an extraction? Why do you leave some spots and squeeze others?
I do leave behind a lot of breakouts during a facial. Pimples that are red and have no white visible head are not to be touched. Trying to squeeze something that is not ready will cause post inflammatory hyper pigmentation. Another reason is aggravating a breakout under the surface can also spread the infection deep into the skin and make it worse and linger around longer. Blackheads on the other hand- are very easy to extract and will not go away on their own.

3. What makes an in-salon extraction different to an at-home squeeze?

There are very specific methods to extractions. The pressure used, knowing what to pick and when to stop are all very important factors. The skin is prepared well during a facial. Before I extract I will cleanse and soften the skin with steam- it makes it so easy. Post extraction I will know what to use to help the healing and stop a spread. Unfortunately at home it is not as not easy.

4. How do you do an extraction? What do you use?

Gloves, my hands and tissue. No fancy tool – I just simply cannot feel what is happening with a tool,​ plus they just scratch and hurt.

5. on me, you used an ointment post-extraction – what was it and why did you use it?
​An alcohol ​wipe. Don’t be afraid of alcohol! It kills the bacteria that is sitting up on the surface, especially after I have pushed it all up and out. Any residual needs to be cleaned off and this is the most efficient way. A lot of people get worried when I do this step. I give back so much after to the skin to make up for it.

6. What should we do at home, post-extraction?

​An alcohol wipe, you can get them at the chemist and some spot treatment. The ‘Blemish SOS’ by Medik8 is great. The spot treatment will help dry out anything left underneath.

7. And finally, in-between facials – what do we do if we have a big pimple that is begging to be squeezed? 
Don’t pick cystic breakouts- there is no point you won’t get anything before you break your skin. Blackheads can be extracted at home if they are very superficial and not too hard.

For anything that is very clearly ready with a white head, wait as long as possible before you pick it. The more sebum you let surface the less pressure you need to use on your skin.
Do it before bed – You have some time for it to heal and you won’t cover it in concealer. It also means you won’t keep touching it through the day while its healing.
After a hot shower use some tissues (not your nails) attempt squeezing once or twice, from the side of the breakout. Stop when you see oil or blood, this means most of the sebum on the surface is out.
Then wipe with an alcohol swab. If you feel some more underneath don’t keep going just sleep over night with a spot treatment.

My biggest tip is: do not make yourself bleed. If you see blood when picking, stop, there is no need to break your skin and cause a scar. A pimple goes away faster than a scar does.

Tile and Cover Image: Instagram, @georgiafowler