Can a facial really help get rid of blackheads?

One writer investigates whether regular facials really get rid of those pesky pore blockers

blackhead extraction

One writer investigates whether regular facials really get rid of those pesky pore blockers

When it comes to annoying skincare ailments, blackheads are up there with the worst of them. You’ve tried the best cleanser that tackles excess grease, you use the best foundation for oily skin, but still you’re plagued with pore-pluggers. Enter blackhead extraction.

So as someone with a fair few of them, I wanted to know what having blackhead extraction performed by a professional was really like – and, more importantly, whether it worked.

Because I regularly went to sleep with my make-up on as a teenager (seriously, what was I thinking), I’ve got particularly deep blackheads all over my nose and chin. A regular scrub just wasn’t cutting the mustard, so I needed to enlist in the help of a pro facialist – hence my visit to see a Murad therapist.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting your pores extracted and working to get rid your blackheads.

The treatment: Murad’s AHA Rapid Exfoliator Anti-Ageing Facial

Where: House of Fraser, Oxford Street

Duration: 60 minutes

What happens during blackhead extraction?

The facial began with a facial steam and double cleanse, to open up the pores and remove all make-up and dirt from the skin. A glycolic acid (an AHA used to revive the skin) was then applied to my face – this can sting or tingle some people’s skin a little, but fortunately for me it was painless.

After removing the glycolic peel it was time for what I was really here for – the facial extraction.

Does blackhead extraction hurt?

I’m not going to lie to you, yes… a little. You are having the gunk scraped out of your pores, after all. But for the most part, it’s not bad – the only part of my face where it really hurt (and my eyes watered) was my nose, where my blackheads are particularly deep. On my forehead and chin it was just a little uncomfortable but pretty painless.

During extraction, the therapist uses a special blackhead tool to apply pressure to your nose to loosen and release the sebum from your pores. After the facial you may notice a bit of redness from the pressure, but this dies down within the day.

Once the facial extraction is complete, a soothing facial serum is applied to calm and nourish the skin and stop it from feeling sore.

Will getting regular facials make my pores smaller?

Unfortunately, no; it’s not possible to change the actual size of your pores.

'Pore sizes are determined by your genes and the size cannot be changed,' says Dr. Howard Murad.

'Some people have large pores genetically, but many people have large pores because they get clogged with dirt and oil, or because of environmental damage. This can stretch them and make them seem even larger than they are, and much more noticeable,' he adds.

It’s not all bad news on the pores front, however. What you can do is minimise their appearance. Dr Murad says this can be done 'by using products that keep pores clean, so they don’t get swollen and irritated.'

He recommends adding products that have anti-inflammatory and tightening effects to your skincare regime.

'Glycolic and Salicylic Acid as well as Retinol and antioxidants in a formula help improve skin texture and improve the look of pores,' he adds. And, of course, regular facials and extractions will provide deeper exfoliation of pores.

What should you do to make the results last as long as possible?

You can maintain your fresh-out-of-the-salon look by injecting certain ingredients into your skincare routine.

'Look for serums and moisturizers that contain exfoliators like glycolic and salicylic acids to keep pores clear and remove imperfections,' advises Dr Murad.

'Use products that not only clear out pores but also prevent sebum oxidation, which is the cause of the visible dark spot associated with blackheads,' he adds. 'Also look for oil-free formulas, which won’t clog pores.'

Need a good cleanser for blackheads? These are the best ones for your skin

The verdict

Afterwards your skin feels smooth and there’s no residual grease left on your skin from products. I found that my overall complexion looked better the day after; I definitely had that post-facial 'glow'. The massage that finishes the treatment off helps to ensure you’re totally relaxed when you leave (even on the Oxford Street on a Friday).

As for my blackheads? I’m confident that getting more regular extractions will help to get rid my blackheads completely. After just the one treatment, I have less visible black spots and my pores look less clogged up – particularly around my chin which the therapist said was badly congested at the start of the treatment.

Priced at £70 for an hour-long treatment, it’s not the cheapest facial on the market, but complete with steam clean before and neck, shoulder and arm massage afterwards, it’s well worth the spend.

Lucy Abbersteen
Beauty Contributor

Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.