I’m not usually prone to getting milia, or oil seeds, so I never really had to figure out how to deal with it before. However, in the past year, I’ve experienced it twice, and gotten rid of them twice, with very good results.
So, I decided to share how I did it. But with a caveat.
My method isn’t quick and may not be for those with very sensitive skin. I therefore advise that you proceed with caution, and adjust your expectations and products accordingly. Remember to always work within your own tolerance.
And now, here’s how I do it :)
What is Milia (Oil Seeds)?
Milia is the name for those flesh coloured bumps you sometimes get on your skin that look like white heads, but which never come to a head.
They are caused usually by a build up of dead skin trapped in pores, causing a little bump to form. It isn’t usually painful, although it can get irritated if you mess around with it.
Some people are more prone to getting milia, especially around the eyes. Often, this is caused by using products that may be too rich, that do not penetrate properly. Over time, it clogs the pores and causes a build up, that can then lead to milia.
While milia might look unsightly (to those who think so), it doesn’t do anything negative to your skin, and there’s no real need to have it removed.
Usual ways of removing milia
The method you should NOT try is to squeeze it out as you would a spot. Trust me, I tried it, and it only got inflamed and painful before subsiding. And the little lump was still there!
The most recommended way of removing milia is for it to be done by a professional. They use a sterilized needle to remove the blockage, and it leaves little to no scarring.
Some people do it this way at home too, with a needle (make sure you sterilize it first!). It’s a quick and easy fix, if you get it right. If you don’t, you may inflame the area and it can cause scarring.
Slow, steady and gentle removal of milia with retinol
My method however, was discovered by chance. It is very slow, but very gentle and leaves no marks behind, only lovely smooth skin.
What you need is a regular application of retinol.
NOTE: Retinol is an ingredient found in some skincare. It is not a product and hence has no name. There is no one product I will recommend here as I am new to this ingredient as well. Some of the ones I’ve tried are in the photos in this post. You will find reviews of retinol serums on my blog from time to time.
Retinol is an ingredient that is proven to work very well, to boost your skin’s renewal. This encourages your skin to renew itself more quickly, and the end result is smoother, softer and healthier skin. This is why anyone who is serious about anti-aging should be using a retinol product of some form.
As retinol boosts the skin cell turnover rate, it pushes old, dead skin cells to the surface and encourages them to slough off more quickly. This then pushes the milia to the surface, and it eventually pops out on its own.
Let me pause for a moment here to say that this is purely based on my own experience. I have read up the science of it, and it supports what I experienced, but I’d suggest proceeding with caution as your experience may vary.
I discovered this by chance once, when I had a stubborn milia oil seed stuck on my eye lid. It was rather irritating, yet I didn’t want to dig it out myself.
I was using a retinol serum at the time, but taking care not to take it around my eye, as that’s what we are warned about. I also then started using an eye cream that contained retinol (Incidentally, it’s a very good one!)
What I noticed after about 2 weeks was that the milia on my lid seemed flatter. I was quite intrigued, because I had been struggling to get rid of it for months! Here it was, appearing to go away of its own accord.
I realized then, that the only thing I’d included in my routine was this eye cream that had retinol. Because I was a little more experimental, I applied a little of my retinol serum on my face, directly on the milia spot. The retinol I was using for my face was stronger than that used in the eye cream.
In about a week, one day, I ran my finger over my eye lid, and felt a little hard ball come away from my skin. It was the milia oil seed! And it’s never come back since! :D
I later developed another milia spot under my eye, near my nose. I had stopped using retinol at this time, and I had forgotten about my earlier experience.
Recently, I restarted a new retinol serum, which turned out to be quite a strong one. After applying it all over my face, I’d run the residue gently over the under-eye area. In about 2 weeks, the milia popped out of its own accord!
I am now convinced that regular use of retinol can help reduce or even remove milia from the skin, and even around the eye area. However, due to the strength of retinol, and how it can irritate sensitive skin, I must urge you to exercise caution when using it.
Dilute the retinol serum when used around the eye
If using it around your eye where you have milia, I’d recommend mixing the retinol serum with some eye cream, before applying.
The skin around the eye is very thin, and retinol can be quite strong so it can cause irritation. If you aren’t confident, use a cotton bud and dot the mixture directly on the milia spot so you don’t irritate the rest of the skin.
If the milia is too close to your eye, practice caution and don’t use this technique.
Use the residue of your retinol serum
If you don’t want it too strong, use the residue of your retinol serum that’s on your fingers after you apply it to your face. I sometimes run it lightly over the eye area.
Do thing only if you’re confident and comfortable using retinol serums. If you are new or if you have very sensitive skin, please proceed with caution! :P
Results will take a while – be patient
Results can take a while to show. It takes me about 2 weeks or so before the milia seed pops out. But I do notice the bump flattening and reducing in size before that.
This isn’t a quick technique, but it is one you can do at home, without poking holes in your face :P I hesitate to say it is safe (it is, really!) because not everyone can handle regular doses of retinol use, but it is quite foolproof and fairly gentle.
Do you have a problem with milia?
Do you have tips on how to easily remove it? As I said, I don’t usually have a problem, so this is my only tip, but I know milia is a real problem for many people, so it’ll be helpful to know of other ways to get rid of milia :)