Closeup of milia on a woman's cheek - right below her eye

What Are Milia And How Do You Get Rid Of Them?

Milia, or “those little white bumps that just won’t go away,” may be less obvious than acne and blackheads but can be just as annoying. Appearing as tiny, hard lumps under the skin, milia often mar the complexion under the eyes or on the cheeks and are difficult to remove. But fear not! Eminence Organics has you covered with an explanation of the common categories of milia along with the methods and products you can use to smooth out your skin. 

What Are Milia?

Milia are small cysts filled with keratin - a type of protein found in skin tissue, hair and nail cells. When keratin gets trapped under the skin, tiny white bumps develop, often in small clusters. These stubborn flaws don't become red and inflamed like acne but instead slowly build up under the skin and remain a white color. While a whitehead is also a white bump and a closed comedone (a pore blockage covered by the skin), whiteheads also contain sebum as opposed to the keratin found in milia. Closeup of milia under the eye

Milia can appear on people of all ages, is not infectious and has no clear cause, but it can be aggravated by sun damage. Some common categories include:

  • Neonatal milia (milia on newborns)
  • Primary milia
  • Milia en plaque
  • Secondary milia

Neonatal milia affects around 50% of all newborns - it cannot be treated and will clear quickly on its own. Primary milia is the most common form of milia, found on both children and adults typically around the eyes, cheeks or forehead. Milia en plaque is a less common form of milia and, unlike primary milia, is a collection of multiple milium that occurs as a plaque (a broad raised area of the skin). Secondary milia refers to milia that appears after a trauma to the skin, such as injury, burn or blistering. When dealing with milia, it is important to first have a skin analysis with a professional in order to determine the best method to treat the condition.

How To Get Rid Of Milia

There are two effective ways of eliminating milia: extractions and exfoliation. While milia will often clear up on its own, if your bumps are sticking around for upwards of six months, extraction may be the only way to fully clear them. Because milia are so small and covered by the skin, they can be difficult to remove. Although it can be tempting to attack milia on your own, we strongly advise against any at-home picking and popping, as it can lead to inflammation, infections and scarring. Instead, visit a dermatologist or licensed esthetician who is equipped to extract milia successfully. Typically they will use a small blade or needle to make a tiny incision to release the blockage. They may then apply additional treatments to ensure the skin is kept moisturized and strong.Closeup of milia extraction in a spa

In addition to extraction, exfoliation - both professionally and at home - is essential for treating milia. We recommend starting with an appointment at your closest authorized Eminence Organics partner spa. Not only can an esthetician use a higher strength professional treatment to open the pore and smooth away any blockages, but they can also perform a skin analysis and recommend home care products. When choosing products, you will want ingredients that help soften the skin, speeding up the natural process for milia to pop out on their own and prevent further buildup. Your esthetician may recommend a physical or a chemical exfoliant, depending on your skin type and the category of milia you are experiencing. Some exfoliating ingredients you may come across to treat milia include:

  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Retinol

What Products Should I Use?

Exfoliation can be incorporated into multiple steps of your homecare routine. In addition to professional treatments, your esthetician may also recommend some of the following cleansers, exfoliants and masks. Eminence Organics Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser

Cleansers

Eminence Organics Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser is a moisturizing cleanser, ideal for anyone with milia who is also wanting to reduce the look of wrinkles. With finely ground olive seed to provide gentle physical exfoliation, this cleanser also contains our Natural Retinol Alternative and Natural AHA Cocktail for additional chemical exfoliation - both key ingredients to battle milia.Eminence Organics Red Currant Exfoliating Cleanser

For those who have a normal to combination skin type or who prefer a gel cleanser, we recommend our best selling Red Currant Exfoliating Cleanser. This rejuvenating cleanser also contains ground olive seed for physical exfoliation as well as our Youth Shield Antioxidant Complex to help battle the drying effects of the sun.Eminence Organics Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Cleanser

If chemical exfoliation is preferred or more suitable for your skin type, our award winning Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Cleanser harnesses lactic acid to effectively slough off dead skin cells without over drying. Suitable for all skin types, this cleanser also contains red clover extract to help shrink pores and smooth the skin.Eminence Organics Stone Crop Oxygenating Fizzofoliant

Exfoliants

Harnessing the power of our proprietary Detoxifying Microgreens Complex - as well as stone crop and rice flour with adzuki powder - our Stone Crop Oxygenating Fizzofoliant provides the perfect prep for extraction by your esthetician. Additionally, this is a fabulous home care product as it helps unclog pores and buff the skin.Eminence Organics Clear Skin Willow Bark Exfoliating Peel

Eminence Organics Clear Skin Willow Bark Exfoliating Peel is another product that we love to use for exfoliation. Containing milia-busting salicylic acid, this peel will remove dirt from the skin and prevent buildup - an especially great choice for those with an oily skin type.Eminence Organics Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel 5%

For those who are less oily, our Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel 5% is a chemical exfoliant suitable for all skin types, combining lactic and glycolic acid to improve the look of texture on the skin and to slough off dead skin cells. Finally, since milia often cluster around the eye, we also recommend our Naseberry Eye Exfoliant, specifically formulated to prevent and clear milia around this delicate area.

Masks

Masking one to three times a week at home will help take your results to the next level. In the video below, Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar shares a smoothing and spicy mix: our Raspberry Pore Refining Masque and Lime Stimulating Masque.

As Natalie explains, this fruity mix not only smells incredible but stimulates and smooths the skin to treat milia. To try this mix at home, combine about a teaspoon of the Raspberry Pore Refining Masque with an equal (or less) amount of the Lime Stimulating Masque on the back of your hand. Blend the two masks together, adding a little water if preferred to help emulsify. Once blended, apply to the face (avoiding the eye area) and leave on for five to 10 minutes. Rinse away with lukewarm water and follow with your favorite Eminence Organics toner and moisturizer.

If you’d like to see even more tips from Natalie, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to never miss an In The Mix video! With the tips and product recommendations above, your skin will be feeling smoother and softer than ever before.

Is milia your biggest skin concern? Any additional treatment tips? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us on social media.