You know those nasty gray dots you get on your nose (and chin and cheeks) that emit gunk like little snakes when you squeeze them? And you know how they’re impossible to get rid of? I recently learned that those aren’t blackheads; they’re sebaceous filaments, which means that they’re just part of your skin’s normal functioning and they’re never, ever, ever, going away. Sigh.
But while those nasty buggers are hanging around for good, there’s a way you can temporarily clear them out and minimize their appearance. Plus, if you have actual clogged pores and blackheads going on, this three-step method can draw them out in a more permanent way.
I first learned this method on the forums of the e-tailer Garden of Wisdom, one of my favorite suppliers for ordering the raw ingredients for all sorts of fun, homemade skincare concoctions. They’re especially good for carrier oils, which make excellent simple (and surprisingly, non-comedogenic) moisturizers. I like to blend their meadowfoam and sesame seed oils for the oil cleansing method portion of this clog-busting facial.
Before you get to the oils, though, you have to exfoliate!
Grab the chemical exfoliant of your choice. This time, I applied my beloved mandelic acid for about two minutes, but I also like First Aid Beauty’s Facial Radiance Pads, and even the super-cheap Stridex Daily Care Maximum pads. Apply that exfoliant and give it 20 minutes or so to start working and dissolving all that junk that is blocking your pores, then rinse your face and pat dry.
Once the magic of chemistry has started clearing a path to the sebaceous filaments, it’s time to massage them out with some oil. Take a little puddle of your favorite oil and start massaging it into your face with circular motions for about 5 to 10 minutes. Because the chemical exfoliant already knocked out the dead skin cells blocking the opening of your pores, the oil can do a better job of getting down inside them and dissolving the oily clogs inside. You may start to feel the little clogs working their way out already.
Take a warm washcloth and wipe off the oil before moving on to step three.
The final step for drawing all that gunk out is using a clay mask. I love Origins Clear Improvement Activated Charcoal Mask. It is a little drying, but I find that it does a great job of sucking sebum up and out of my pores and the activated charcoal helps get rid of inflammation and heals active breakouts.
The key to effectiveness with this mask is applying it super-thick. You shouldn’t be able to see any of your skin through the mask.
Let it dry somewhat, but not so much that the mask cracks when you move your mouth: 10 minutes is a good ballpark figure. Then wash the mask off. This clay is pretty tenacious, but a washcloth or one of these things make the process a little easier
When you’re done, you’ll notice that all those little white snakies coming out on their own.
At this point you could do some gentle extraction, or better yet, just wipe the stuff away gently with a soft, dry washcloth. You’ll notice that those little black dots are temporarily in hiding for a special occasion, or when you want to take unflatteringly zoomed-in close ups of your nose, you know, casual.
Two disclaimers if you’re planning try this out: If you have sensitive skin, be careful. My super-fussy skin can handle it, but I have to baby it for a few days leading up to and after this process. The triple-punch you’re delivering to your pores might irritate the rest of your skin, so listen to your skin and if after any step it feels extra delicate or raw, stop. You don’t want to make things worse.
Likewise, you should also be aware that this method draws a lot of junk to the surface of your skin very quickly. That means that you might experience a breakout after this. Small skin-colored bumps that come to a white head are signs that your skin is processing and eliminating underground gunk and it should clear fully pretty quickly. Big, red inflamed pimples, however, mean that your skin was irritated or reacted badly to one of the products you used and perhaps this method is too aggressive for your skin.
Cautions aside, though, this is the best filament-unfilling facial I’ve ever tried, and it’s a great way to get rid of those recurring clogs without picking at it.
What’s the farthest you’ve gone to try to get rid of sebaceous filaments?
This article originally appeared on xoJane.