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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the original step-by-step guide that appeared in the skin gritting Reddit thread.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Victoria is founder and editor-in-chief of mamabella, freelance journalist and Mum. She has a passion for empowering people to feel beautiful whatever their age, size, skin type and budget