Skin gritting Reddit how to

Skin gritting: The Reddit skincare trend is on the rise again – and it promises to get rid of blackheads as you sleep

15th June 2020 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

Three years after the skin gritting Reddit thread got us all sleeping in face masks of oil, the trend appears to be back on the rise.

Designed to be a gentle, and highly effective way of clearing your pores and getting rid of blackheads, skin gritting sounds much more painful than it actually is. 

Put simply, it’s a way of clearing your skin of blackheads – or grits – using oil, clay and facial massage. 

Below we’ve explained the different skin gritting steps based on how much time you have, and how bad your skin is. 

Skin gritting 

Back in 2015, a post on the SkincareAddiction subreddit referred to a technique called skin gritting. The term, and method, grew in popularity and the skin gritting trend made headlines in 2017 as people searched for an effective way to get rid of blackheads.  

As you can read in our What causes blackheads? guide, instead of being made of dirt, blackheads – also known as comedones, or grits – are the build up of dead skin cells and leftover skincare and makeup clogging up your pores. When this build up hits the air, it oxidises and turns black.

People with oily skin, who tend to have larger pores because of the excess sebum their skin produces, are more prone to blackheads and this can lead to spots, blemishes and even acne if the comedones aren’t cleaned properly and become infected. 

There are literally hundreds of blackhead removal products.

Some, like the Skin Glow Electric Cleanser, create a vacuum to suck the blackheads out.

Others, like face exfoliators, use small particles to lift the comedones out, while clay face masks draw out impurities. These vary in how harsh, or not, they are on the skin. 

As a side note, if you do have large pores and regularly get spots and blemishes as a result of having oily skin, make sure you’re choosing non-comedogenic makeup and skincare products. You can read more in our What does non-comedogenic mean? article. 

What is skin gritting?

Skin gritting explainedPiqsels

Skin gritting combines a number of these techniques to dislodge ‘grits’ buried deep in the skin.

It’s classified as a deep cleansing routine that uses face oils, clay masks and facial massaging in a variety of combinations based on how much time you have, or what your skin type is.

The key difference between skin gritting and exfoliation, as an example, is that skin gritting is visible. You can physically see the grits and black specks on your face and fingers as you massage your skin – if it’s worked, that is! 

It can also be more gentle on the skin than harsh exfoliants or chemical peels, and it definitely doesn’t hurt as much as standard pore extractions.  

In addition to getting rid of grits, this technique can also get rid of the general dirt or leftover product on, and beneath, the surface of your skin. 

How to do skin gritting

Before we outline the different skin gritting steps, we should mention that professionals are divided about how effective skin gritting is.

Some believe it works well, while others suggest leaving pore extraction to the experts and with any new skincare regime, approach sensibly and carefully. 

Skin Gritting Steps Method 1: Oil-clay-oil

DHC Deep cleansing oilDHC

This is the original step-by-step guide that appeared in the skin gritting Reddit thread. 

  • Step 1: Cleanse the skin with an oil-based cleanser to soften the pores. We recommend the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (£5) or Dermalogica’s Precleanse (£39.50)
  • Step 2: Apply a clay mask. As the clay dries, it pulls debris – including excess sebum and dead skin cells – from your pores. We’re big fans of the L’Oreal Pure Clay range (from £7.99) as well as the Clear Skin mask from Tropic (£20)
  • Step 3: Once the mask has been removed and your face is dry, massage a couple of drops of face oil into your skin for around two to three minutes to lift and remove any remaining impurities 

Note: Massaging oil into your face after a clay mask is a good idea generally because clay masks dry out the skin and can disrupt its natural protective barrier. 

Method 2: Oil-acid-clay-oil


This skin gritting method adds an extra step to the routine, through the use of an exfoliating acid. You can read more about acids in skincare and what they mean in our guide. 

This method is possibly the most effective at removing blackheads, but it’s also the one that is most likely to cause irritation. 

  • Step 1: Cleanse the skin with an oil-based cleanser to soften the pores
  • Step 2: Apply an exfoliating acid that contains a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). The Inkey List Beta Hydroxy Acid (£9.99) is a good place to start, as is Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant (£28). Skin gritting fans say to leave the acid on for around 20 to 25 minutes, but read the label first
  • Step 2: Apply a clay mask on top of the acid 
  • Step 3: Once the mask has been removed and your face is dry, massage a couple of drops of face oil into your skin for around two to three minutes

Method 2: Oil-sleep-oil

This method is better suited to people who are short on time and who have sensitive skin because it doesn’t rely on clay masks. This reduces the chance of irritation. If you are short on time, be sure to check out our Sleeping beauty: The best overnight hair masks, face creams and foot treatments guide.

  •  Step 1: Complete your nightly skincare routine as normal
  • Step 2: Apply a layer of face oil to your skin before getting into bed. This softens the pores and brings impurities to the surface. We recommend The Inkey List Rosehip Oil (£6.99).
  • Step 3: In the morning, oil cleanse your face. This involves massaging a couple of teaspoons of oil into the skin to remove the grits. Any natural oils will work – sunflower, jojoba and so on – but we also recommend the MV Organic Skincare’s Pure Jojoba oil (£32)
  • Step 4: Gently remove the oil using a soft cloth and warm water

If you’ve got naturally oily skin, the idea of cleansing your face using oil will likely feel like a step too far.

However, the reason your skin produces excess sebum is because it thinks it’s dry or is lacking in moisture, and isn’t producing enough. This puts it into overdrive, and causes too much to form. 

Putting oil on your skin can actually hydrate it more, telling your skin it doesn’t need to overproduce it and helping to create more balance.

This isn’t a given, and depends on the oils that suit your skin, but you shouldn’t shy away from oils just because you have oily skin.

You can read more in our guide: Skin serum, facial oil or moisturiser: What’s the difference and which one do you need?

Things to watch out for

The use of clay, in particular, can dry out the skin so if you have particularly sensitive skin or conditions like acne, make sure you don’t overdo it with skin gritting.

As a rule, skin gritting shouldn’t be done more than once a week.

In addition, leaving oils and acids on your skin can cause irritation. Stop using any products if any redness or irritation occurs and if you have acne, eczema, or rosacea, consult a dermatologist before attempting skin gritting. 

The Inkey List and The Ordinary both have online chat functions with trained skincare experts if you’re after advice. 

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