They're generally considered a standard (yet painful!) step of a facial, but estheticians haven't always agreed on whether or not extractions—when impurities are manually removed from pores with a blackhead extractor—are beneficial. (And when you're prepping for your wedding, you definitely don't want to do anything that will set you back.) During a perfect facial, extractions will "remove blackheads and non-infected bumps to give the skin a smoother texture without leaving significant redness or scarring," says celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, who explains that they're necessary for the clarity of the skin, as long as they are performed properly and gently.
Problems can arise, however, when an esthetician doesn't use enough pressure, usually because he or she is worried about hurting the client. This prevents debris from fully coming out of the pore, causing post-facial breakouts. On the flip side, if an esthetician applies too much pressure, it can result in damaged capillaries, Rouleau says. One way to know your esthetician is extracting properly is by ensuring he or she thoroughly preps and softens the skin. "I always recommend estheticians do a facial massage beforehand, as it produces much better results—clean pores and less redness and discomfort," she says.
Ensuring the skin stays soft and moist is also important. "When moisture from the steam evaporates, and the skin is still hydrated, extraction can be easy. But if someone has a lot of impurities, keeping the skin moist for a long period of time is key, because once the skin dehydrates, pores tighten and it will be difficult for debris to come out. Most estheticians do not properly soften the skin or keep it hydrated enough," she says. "I know it can be difficult to tell an esthetician how to do his or her job, but maybe there's a nice way to let yours know—perhaps you can tell him or her you've had facials before and find that it works better for your skin to perform extractions after the facial massage, not before."
How often someone should get extractions depends upon the individual. Rouleau says some might need them every two weeks for two months to get the skin under control, while others can get by with getting extractions every other month. As soon as possible after you get engaged, try to find a facialist you like and stay loyal, which will allow him or her to become better acquainted with your skin and know what it needs each time you arrive. That way, by your wedding day, your complexion will be practically picture perfect—without any worry of residual redness or aggravation.