We all know that we should avoid touching our pimples as much as possible. Picking, poking and squeezing can lead to hyperpigmentation, scarring, deep infections and even more pimples. But… we’re also all human! Sometimes the urge to squeeze that bulging, pus-filled head is simply irresistible, so here’s how to do it as safely as possible.
First things first, is it even a candidate for popping? The only pimples that you should be considering popping are the ones basically asking for it, with the white head visible on the surface of your skin. If there’s no head begging to be popped or it is red, angry, sore or under the surface, leave it alone. Nothing to be popped here. If your pimple has popping potential, you may proceed.
Clean. It is best to do any popping during your morning or nighttime routine, so once you’ve identified your candidate, wash your hands and then your face. Cleanliness is crucial because you are essentially working with an open wound. It’s possible that the head comes off just by washing your face, which is great.
Get in position. Hold a clean q-tip in each hand (if you don’t have q-tips, clean tissues wrapped around your pointer fingers will do, but do not use your nails) and place on either side of the pimple. Placement here is key: do not press directly on the pimple or riiiight next to the head. Instead, feel around for the edges of the pimple. Otherwise, you will pop just the head off and push everything inside further down.
Twist. With very little pressure, gently twist the q tips clockwise, then counterwise clockwise. The head should pop off with very little effort. If the pimple doesn’t pop after 3 attempts, stop. Don’t force anything that isn’t ready.
Get it all out. There may be more pus than just the head. Using the q-tips, very gently press slightly down, inward and then up, to try and extract it all. As soon as you stop seeing white, stop. If you see blood, you’ve gone too far.
Spot treat or patch it up. Clean the area with an acidic toner (cleanser works too if that’s all you have) and apply a spot treatment or pimple patch.
After care. The following days, keep the area clean and pimple patched if there’s still an opening (remember, it’s an open wound!) Soothing, hydrating and anti-inflammatory ingredients like beta-glucan, panthenol and green tea can help speed up healing and minimize the risk of scarring or discoloration.