Treating Milia (aka those little white bumps)

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Treating Milia (aka those little white bumps)

Milia is the technical term for those pesky hard, white bumps on the face usually located around the eye and cheek area. They can be hard to identify because at first you may think they’re stubborn pimples that just won’t pop. But popping is the LAST thing you’ll want to do to Milia. Please don’t try!

Milia is the build up of Keratin (a common protein found in skin hair and nails) trapped under the skin. The keratin fuses together and sort of calcifies under the skin with  no way out. This is why the bump is hard and will not pop.

(sorry I don’t have a picture of milia I couldn’t find any photos without copyright restrictions, feel free to google!) 

While Milia typically goes away in a few weeks or months, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process.

Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate!

Exfoliating the affected area will massively encourage Milium cysts to come to the surface. Using a chemical and physical exfoliant interchangeably would work but I would suggest finding an exfoliant with both for best results.

The Kate Somerville Exfolikate is my favorite dual-action exfoliator. The natural fruit enzymes and Lactic Acid are an incredibly powerful exfoliation combination ideal for removing the dead skin layers on top of Milia.

 Not for sensitive skin

 treating milia

Exfolikate Mini– $24

Use Retinol

Retinol is the exfoliator of all exfoliators! If your Milia doesn’t respond to consistent exfoliation or continues to come back time and time again it may be time to introduce a Retinol into your routine. It may be tempting to go straight for the big guns but Retinol is powerful is not meant to be used for prolonged periods of time.

*Refrain from treating Milia on your eyelid with Retinol as it could affect your vision.

I recommend using a Retinol for 4 months before giving your face a break. You don’t want to exfoliate all of your skin off or you’ll be left with that shiny, thin skin look. No thank you.

Bonus! You’ll experience brighter, clearer and more youthful skin while using this product as well! My favorite high strength Retinol is the Paula’s Choice 1%. Paula’s Choice contains the highest percentage of Retinol you can buy over the counter and uses only quality, beneficial ingredients.

treating milia

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment– $56


Sun exposure can worsen, prolong and spread Milia. Stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible and use a lightweight, non-pore clogging sunscreen. Heavy sunscreens and creams can also worsen the condition so choose your SPF wisely or you may be doing more harm than good!

My favorite SPF is the IT Cosmetics Anti-Aging Armour Beauty Fluid + SPF which also doubles as my primer and foundation most days! Read more about IT here.

treating milia

IT Cosmetics Anti-Aging Armour– $38

Go to the Dermatologist

When all else fails, or you simply don’t have the time or patience you can visit your Dermatologist for almost instant results. Most likely your dermatologist will use a lancet to remove the hardened keratin ball from underneath the skin. A lancet is a small sterile needle used to pierce the skin creating an escape route for the cyst.

Attempting this at home can result in serious scarring, best to leave it to the professionals! Please note, Estheticians in California and some other states are not legally permitted to use lancets in the treatment room. You can take that information however you want, just trying to keep you informed! 🙂

While Milia is an annoyance and an inconvenience, it is treatable and there is an end in sight! Let me know if you have used any of these tips for treating Milia and please let me know how it goes!


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