Q: Are facials that include extraction (squeezing the pores to remove blackheads and whiteheads) bad for my skin?
Dr Patricia Yuen, a consultant dermatologist at Pacific Healthcare Specialist Centre, strongly advises against the extraction of whiteheads, blackheads and acne, which are commonly done during facials.
'This can cause further inflammation, introduce bacteria and cause acne scarring,' she says.
Instead, consider microdermabrasion, which is a more gentle but effective way to get rid of blackheads and whiteheads and to prevent acne.
The process exfoliates dead skin cells and sucks out blackheads and whiteheads and is usually done after consultation with a dermatologist.
It costs about $300 per session and a complete course usually involves six monthly sessions.
There are no side effects to microdermabrasion, although people with eczema and open wounds should avoid it.
If you have persistent red marks or infection as a result of extraction, Dr Yuen's advice is to consult a dermatologist.
Products like facial scrubs and pore packs usually cannot remove blackheads and whiteheads as thoroughly as microdermabrasion and prescription medication such as Differin gel.
Still, going for a facial once in a while is fine.
'It's okay to go for facials as long as you are not allergic to the products that are being used,' says Dr Yuen.
This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times on Nov 14, 2008.