I have the very fortunate position of working in an office that’s a five-minute walk from the Jurlique Spa in New York. Whenever I need a few minutes of “me time” I make my way from Rockefeller Center, battle the craziness that is Fifth Avenue (sorry, Saks) and pop out on a much-more-quiet block on Madison. One step in the spa and I’m immediately transformed from an emailing-checking stress-case to a balanced-Zen being who’s biggest decision is how much rosewater to spray.

The place is a literal oasis—no sales people are pushing you to make a purchase, botanical blends fill the air, and while the store itself isn’t so big, there’s a whole other “backroom” spa treatment area that’s nicely tucked away from reality. I’m typically in and out in 10 minutes, but a recent trip (and a very generous invitation to test out the new pollution-fighting Purity Specialist facial) had me lingering a little longer and making a break toward the back.

Fast-forward 30 minutes later and I was asleep—like someone needed to shake-me-to-wake-me asleep. I had just received one of the most relaxing facials of my life—my skin looked great, I was glowing—but I couldn’t make sense of how I simultaneously was getting a ton of much-needed extractions done, yet was so zoned-out. (Something that never, ever happens to me, as I’m usually screaming ‘stop!’ after three.) I thanked my aesthetician, told her how happy and relaxed I was and took off.

But I couldn’t shake her magical touch. My skin looked even better then next day, but I was still so confused by how she could do some serious extraction work while I was literally left sleeping. I had to know more of her secrets…

So, I went back. Back to that enchanted back room. Turns out my magical “extraction whisperer” has a name: She’s aesthetician Elizabeth Harvey and she does a lot of facials, sees a lot of skin stuff, and she really is an expert on extractions. So she let me (for lack of a better word) pick her brain on the subject.

When should you just say NO to extractions?

Harvey says it’s best to skip a facial in general if your skin is overly inflamed, red or irritated. “Also, extremely dehydrated skin that is tight and flaking could also cause some sensitivity issues. Some medications and medical conditions also may prevent extractions. Please check with your physician before having any spa treatment done.” And if you aren’t sure what to expect when going for any spa appointment, it’s not crazy to call ahead of time. “Definitely contact the spa directly to ask for the steps and procedures,” she adds. “Know before you go!”

If you are getting a facial, are there any telltale signs that something isn’t going right?

If you’ve ever gotten a few facials, you’ve probably been there: Your face is burning, something hurts or something just doesn’t feel right and you aren’t sure exactly what to say/do next. “There are times when you may feel some discomfort during a treatment, maybe a light peel will cause some stinging sensations or there may be some pinching while extractions are being performed,” Harvey says. “Your aesthetician should be making you aware of the moments when these things can or might be occurring. If you feel any discomfort, make your aesthetician aware so he/she can adjust to suit your needs. If you find that your skin needs some additional comfort, try mists or serums with ingredients like calendula, aloe or cucumber.”

Is it OK to say no to extractions?

Simple answer: Of course! “If you prefer not to have extractions, please tell your aesthetician prior to beginning your treatment. Also, make him or her aware of any of your preferences, like massage pressure, scents, etc. We want you to have the best treatment possible and we’d be happy to know the best ways to make that happen.” But, Harvey does stresses there are some big benefits to getting extractions. “Besides the obvious benefits and immediate results of smoother-feeling skin and refined-looking pores, long-term benefits exist as well. Over time, you will decrease the frequency of breakouts and you should begin to notice that your skin’s oil production will balance, as your sebum is allowed to flow easier due to lack of blockages. Also, reduced stress from treatments leads to fewer breakouts and a more glowing complexion!”

There’s a huge obsession with Dr. Pimple Popper. Do you ever see anything out of the ordinary come out of pores?
Sorry, but I had to ask. “There are so many different types of secretions that can come out of pores. You can have everything from solid oil deposits to smooth white blockages to clear excess sebum. None of it is out of the ordinary! Best way to avoid ending up in one of those videos is to get regular facials treatments and being consistent with your home-care regimen.”