In Defence of Blackhead-Squeezing Videos (and Some of My Favourites)
Updated: May 14
There are two types of people in this world: the first is the group of people who can't abide the idea of watching a stranger's blackhead-squeezing videos; the other, those who take great joy and relief in watching said recordings. It's pretty clear, from the headline – and the copious number of blackhead-squeezing links I've shared to my Facebook page – that I fall into the latter group.
What makes blackhead-squeezing videos so appealing?
I'm not sure there's a short, or particularly concise, answer to this. There is some science behind why (some of us, at least) find blackhead-squeezing so very captivating – according to Heather Berlin, PhD, talking to Refinery29, the satisfaction of extracting a blemish releases dopamine, which activate's the brain's reward centre. But that doesn't explain why others find the idea of watching these videos quite so repugnant. My Dad, for example, can't even catch a glimpse out of the corner of his eye, but he begins to feel nauseous; my Mum, for her part, describes feeling light-headed at some of the milder images I've sent her via WhatsApp (what? I have to have my fun).
Nor does it explain why people enjoy watching the more, shall we say, hardcore flicks in the blackhead-squeezing oeuvre – when we move away from simply blocked pores, into the realm of cysts which may range in size from a pea to a large chicken fillet. Even I, die-hard blackhead-squeezing fan, sometimes feel my stomach tighten at the site of thick, gelatinous yellow matter oozing from a newly incised cyst.
How can you tell a good blackhead-squeezing video from a bad one?
Well, here's where things get specific. I'm a big fan of Dr Sandra Lee, known on YouTube as Dr Pimple Popper, although only when using her traditional comedone-extracting tool. Of late, she's taken to experimenting with a kind of blackhead-extracting tweezers, which I don't like as much – and, though I do occasionally watch videos by Dr Enilsa Brown, her cotton bud method isn't quite as satisfying.
Josefa M Reina is another good one, although she seems to pierce each and every blackhead with a pin first, which Dr Pimple Popper only does when absolutely necessary. This kind of feels like cheating, which makes me like her videos less. Dr Vikram gets some excellent blackheaded subjects for his videos, but I don't like his extractor – it doesn't make the moment at which the blackhead emerges from the pore clear enough.
See? It's actually a delicate science, and one that Dr Pimple Popper has almost perfected – although I do occasionally find myself shouting at the screen if and when I see that she's missed a prime candidate for her extractor. (TL;DR – I'm insane. My analysis of blackhead-squeezing videos should make this clearer than ever.)