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Blackheads may be the bane of our existence as it is, but a trapped blackhead you can’t remove? Those possibly belong in the deepest pits of hell. The itch to pick at it grows every time you look in the mirror, and those pore strips can only do so much. Extracting it is the only thing left to do, but there’s a certain art to it so that you don’t end up red all over, or worse, with broken capillaries.

So how do we know when a blackhead is ready to be extracted? Blackheads are born ready to be extracted. They’re made of sebum stuck in your pore or follicle, and when exposed to oxygen, it starts to oxidize and turn black. However, using a tool if you’re extracting on your own is not recommended because when you apply the incorrect position and pressure, it is harder to judge what is happening. Using your fingers — not nails—is a better option, as you can sense just how much pressure to apply to the area. If you’re afraid that your nails might mar up your skin, consider wrapping your fingers in tissue paper as a protective layer.

Begin by cleansing and exfoliating your skin, then steam the area to help knock the blackhead somewhat loose. With clean fingers, apply even pressure to either side of the blackhead until you see movement and the sebum starts to come out on its own. You’ll want to space your fingers far enough from each other so that they effectively remove all of the gunk under the surface, and keep re-positioning them as you work your way around the area. Be especially careful around your nose, as it is one of the most sensitive areas on the face.

Once your skin tone in the area of extracting is even, you’ll know there isn’t any sebum left in the pore, and that it appears clean. Finish with a swipe of toner to clean your skin, and to help close up the pore.