Got a Pimple? Here’s What to Do.

Never pop a pimple. Unless. 

You should never pop a pimple unless you know what you are doing or you can visit someone who knows what they are doing.  

What to do with pimples is such a messy and controversial topic. So let’s start at the beginning. 

A Closer Look at Corrective Skincare

Corrective skincare grew up during the 1930s when the first chemical peel was discovered and used to remove the epidermis. Scientists discovered that the dermal layer had the power to completely replace it. This laid the blueprint for corrective skincare as we know it. 

The problem? Over the years, we learned that removing the epidermis comes with a severe price: eventual premature dermal thinning, which leads to premature aging. What is the point of these anti-aging procedures if they age us faster? 

The removal of the entire epidermis is an extreme procedure even for today, but the micro-traumas that emulate this strategy are everywhere — in the form of every type of laser, microdermabrasion, microneedling, and chemical peels. These micro-traumas cause major imbalances to proper pore function that actually cause skin congestion.

The cumulative effect of all of these trauma-based procedures is suppression and deep storage of congestion — AKA pimples — through dehydration, anxiety, and disrupted natural acid mantle and pore function.

The plot thickens, as the clinical skin health providers try to solve skin problems with hormone-altering pills, topical antibiotics, steroids, and retinols. Layering these strategies on top of the outdated trauma treatments compounds skin dysfunction and sabotages healthy skin.

Deep healing, positive resurfacing, rebalancing, and detoxing of skin is impossible when it’s being bombarded with trauma and kept chronically dehydrated. In the midst of this chaos, our skin can have congestion like blackheads, milia, and zits — and many skin professionals then advise against popping pimples and recommend more advice that contributes to the pimples in the first place. More antibiotics, more topical acids, more lasers, more steroids. And the toxic looping continues.

So what do you do when you get a pimple?

To pop a pimple or not to pop is the question. But the answer is a bit nuanced: No, unless … 

Conventional corrective skincare is, in fact, doing the exact opposite of correction. Inflicting trauma on your skin is actually a major contributor of pimples. It causes congestion through chronic dehydration, disrupting your natural acid mantle, and sabotaging natural pore function. Yet these corrective skincare protocols and products remain the most available treatments today. 

So, if you want to get rid of zits, the first and most important step is to stop your current skincare regimen. Swap it out for something that helps, not harms. Something that actually works, by utilizing the power of topical dermal nutrients, hydration, antioxidants, and barrier restoration. Learn all about skincare that really works for acne here.

So What Do you Do When you Get a Pimple? 

Don’t even bother popping (or self-extracting) a pimple if your skin does not have fundamentals first: food, hydration, and peace. Abstaining from trauma-based procedures will allow skin to find harmony, which is impossible in the midst of ongoing trauma. Dehydrated and unnourished skin is essentially sleeping. It’s suppressed and in a basic survival mode that is not about thriving.  Extractions on unhealthy skin are difficult and are more likely to scar.

Skin that is supported in its release function with hydration and dermal nutrients does not have nearly as much risk of scarring from extractions as the skin that has endured conventional protocols that withhold meaningful dermal nutrients and water.

One of the reasons that we are told to never pop a pimple is because the conventional protocols don’t support our skin’s proper release function. Instead, we default to just suppressing our skin with drying agents, always kicking the can down the road and wanting these breakouts to magically disappear in the future, some day, somehow. This is delusional. 

The pimples always come back and all the while continue to gather and multiply just under the surface. They appear to “disappear” temporarily, but they continue to exist. And they become worse and worse as the years go on and can cause all sorts of texture issues in mature skin.

Do This to Treat Breakouts: 

1. Get healthy. First and foremost, get your skin on the fundamentals of hydration, dermal nutrients, and barrier repair. This protocol optimizes water levels and returns our skin’s native release function, which allows skin to successfully release and maintain beautiful texture. When skin is functioning properly, it is a hallway rather than a storage unit. Pimples are simple and quickly passing rather than enmeshed, large, hard, and difficult to remove.

2. Learn how to self-extract. Not all pops are created equal. There’s a good way and a bad way to extract a zit. Once your skin is healthy (and only then), you can learn how to properly self-extract. We’ll dive into that next week. 

3. Get a professional extraction. If you aren’t well-versed and confident in how to pop a pimple without the potential to leave a scar, visit a trained professional who knows how to do it right. 

4. Stop dehydrating your skin. In addition to feeding your skin the right products, stop dehydrating it. This means avoiding all tea tree oil and salicylic acid ingredients. Stop using conventional “acne protocols.” They are giving people zits and suppressing the natural release capacity of your pores.

Yes, there is a “natural release” that we have to understand and accept. Embracing zits and allowing them to leave out the top of our skin is the only way to be truly free of them. They are simply hiding underneath until we allow them the space to leave. You must go through a healthy detox healing response — or else be forever managing breakouts. It’s better to manage them one single time, temporarily, and then be done.

So if your skin is hydrated and nourished and you do feel the urge to pop that pimple, it’s crucial to know the proper way to do it.

We all get pimples. And after part 1 and 2 of “Why You Shouldn’t Pop a Pimple,” we all now know that conventional corrective skincare is a major cause of pimples. We also know that it’s risky to pop (or self-extract) a pimple if your skin isn’t healthy with the fundamentals first: food, hydration, and peace. Extractions on unhealthy skin are tricky and more likely to scar.

So, what if you have healthy, nourished skin and you want to learn how to properly extract a pimple? 

The specialized skill of manual extractions and protocols that support our skin’s natural release function that creates clear and perfectly textured skin is rarely being practiced. The majority of skin health providers do not even know how to properly extract skin. More so, many states do not allow estheticians to provide this much-needed service. Unfortunately, this specialized training is not taking place, while injections, lasers, and topicals monopolize professional training, so this is what is readily available.

There are three main types of extraction methods: the use of a loop extractor, a lancet, and pinching with fingers. I have a lot of opinions about each of these, but I’ll save that for another post.

Guidelines for Self-Extracting a Pimple:

  1. Self-extractions are best performed at night after a long shower so your skin is moist, steamed, and clean.
  2. Mist with a hydrating mist so your skin does not dehydrate while you are extracting.
  3. Set an alarm for five minutes. If you can’t the pimple after five minutes, chances are you will do more harm than good. Stop trying after five minutes.
  4. Insert a disposable, single-use lancet with clean hands into the edge of the zit at a 45-degree angle. Wiggle and stir a tiny bit to make an opening. Gently squeeze any white pus out. Stop when clear liquid comes out.
  5. Rinse your entire face. Then layer a hydrating mist, hydrating serum with dermal nutrients, and a barrier restoring moisturizer. Spot treat with a colloidal silver first-aid gel. The dermal nutrients assist our skin to heal quickly and optimally, as well as prevent scarring.

Resist the popular, unnecessary need to disinfect skin with astringents like witch hazel, tea tree essential oil, or rubbing alcohol, as these outdated practices cause dehydration that works against clear skin. However, it is supremely important that any reusable tools used are disinfected with rubbing alcohol and hands are clean.

Bad self-extractions or inexperienced professional extractions can cause scarring. The use of dermal nutrients will significantly reduce the potential for scarring, if not eliminate it entirely.  Abstaining from effective, quality extractions can also cause scarring. 

I see this often as a master extractor: Skin tissue is internally scarred and thickened from having to store clumps of milia and compacted blackheads. Often, skin is also hyperpigmented from this excess burden. Congestion underneath our skin can grow and fester over the years, slowly becoming larger and more complex, thus becoming more difficult to remove. However, it is still possible to remove it if it’s extracted correctly and dermal nutrients are used for optimal healing.

Another major reason to have professional extractions is that the removal of stored milia will largely prevent the occurrence of acetinic precursor lesions from forming, as this is a large reason the precursors form in the first place. These precursors to the precursors are not routinely being addressed by dermatologists.  

Yes, it is invorgarating to purposely impose stress to cause a wanted increase of skin cell renewal. However, most treatments go too far and the result is a net loss — not the anti-aging net gain that people are aiming for. We need to adjust the amount of stimulation needed so we can enjoy positive blood flow for true healing, rather than just another damaging event that disassembles balance and youth.

Extractions are a short trauma well worth enduring, as their enormous net gain outweighs the risks.

The lack of high-quality, skilled extractions is a huge blind spot in the skin industry. Dermatologists and medi-spas alike do everything to suppress breakouts indefinitely, which is exactly the problem. Holistic practices and the service of effective and safe extractions has the capacity to resolve skin texture issues directly. No laser session, no amount of scrubbing, no chemical peel, microdermabrasion, microneedling, or retinol can do what a skilled master extractor can do in one session.

The main holistic goal is to help our skin become more of the hallway for toxin release that it was meant to be, rather than the storage unit that it has sadly become under the influence of mainstream conventional corrective skincare modalities. Extractions are the much needed service that will help us arrive at clear, beautifully textured skin that ages slowly.