Do you really want to know what’s in your pores? For many of us, the answer is a big fat yes. Seeing the fruits of our cleansing labor just feels good.
Now, a crazy trend from Reddit’s Skincare Addiction thread called "skin gritting" is highlighting yet another fascinating way people are removing blackheads. The technique, which has been around for a while but has recently gotten attention outside of Reddit, involves massaging skin with oil, then applying a clay mask, and then massaging skin a second time with oil. The result is a purging of a bunch of little black plugs from skin, which fans say are blackheads.
However, there’s debate on if these are actually blackheads. “It’s possible that the oil and gentle massage can work to dislodge the blackhead,” says New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D. “It’s more likely that these ‘grits’ are dead skin buildup, and if you’re massaging your face, you’re also removing dead skin from your hands and fingers,” she says.
As kol13190 put it on the popular Reddit thread: “I am disgusted and enthralled at the same time." Commenter andywhorhol triumphantly reported: “Even after five minutes, they were still popping out like crazy, I had to stop myself before I went overboard with the massage!”
And here’s the kicker: As long as you don’t go overboard, and you do this in moderation, it can be safe, says Engelman. That said, if you’re prone to clogged pores, using something like coconut oil on your skin can make the problem worse (coconut oil is comedogenic, meaning that it can actually clog your pores).
Engelman recommends double-cleansing as an alternative method to keep pores clear. She uses an oil-based cleanser like Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Replenishing Cleansing Oil ($36, amazon.com) “to remove makeup and the day’s gunk off my skin,” she says. Then, she uses Cure Natural Aqua Gel ($29, amazon.com) a water-based chemical peel. “Massage in a circular motion for up to one minute and see the little pills—or grits—form,” adds Engelman.
If blackheads bother you, you may be best off visiting a dermatologist who can suggest the right routine for you: professional facials or extractions, laser treatments, or an over-the-counter retinoid gel. Here’s to clear skin!