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By: Grace Gavilanes

There's no shortage of advice when it comes to optimizing your skincare routine. Thoroughly removing the day's makeup before bed is a must; so is washing your hands before cleansing your face. But the most common tip every expert agrees on: stop poking the blemishes on your skin.

Not only are you spreading bacteria with your fingernails, but you're also increasing your chances of permanent scarring and discoloration. That being said, we get it. We understand the temptation. Watching Dr. Pimple Popper go to town on her patients' skin, both on Instagram and on her TLC show, is enough inspiration for viewers to spend a little extra time examining their pores in the mirror. We've all been there.

If you absolutely need to take things into your own hands, consider these five steps from esthetician Eran Crothers.

Clean Your Skin

Use a makeup remover wipe and wash your face with a gentle cleanser to make sure your skin is free of any dirt or makeup residue. "You wouldn't want [dirt or bacteria] spreading to this newly cleaned-out pore once it's extracted," says Crothers.

RELATED: 4 Expert Steps to Take When Treating an Ingrown Hair

Use a Hot Wash Cloth

In terms of prepping your skin before the extraction, have a hot wash cloth handy. "Place it on your face for a few minutes to help open your pores," she says.

skin care

Do Not Use Your Fingernails

They're easily accessible, so why wouldn’t we use our fingernails? According to Crothers, our nails are a playground for bacteria and may also pierce and damage the skin. Instead, she recommends applying pressure with Q-tips.

RELATED: Mastered a Skincare Routine But Still Breaking Out? Here's What You're Doing Wrong

Stick to Three

For Crothers, three is the magic number when it comes to squeezing a blemish: "After the fourth squeeze, you start to bring blood to the surface, which causes bleeding, swelling, scarring and can leave your skin discolored."

Apply a Toner

If you're successful, then it’s time to properly treat the area that was just worked on. Crothers recommends applying a toner before finishing off with a spot treatment that contains blemish-fighting benzoyl peroxide.