I think we can all agree that one of the worst skin habits to have is picking at one’s skin. Actually, it’s THE worst habit to have. I can live with a “I forgot to wash my makeup off” every once in awhile or even a “I use cetaphil to wash my face”, but there is no good reason to pick your skin. Trust me I’ve heard it all; “It was ready” - How do you know? Are you a licensed esthetician? “I did it mindlessly” - Perhaps in your sleep but most scabs indicate to me that it wasn’t just a mindless attack. I’ve fallen victim to picking at my skin from an early age and since I obviously made a career out of it, I understand the urge to do it. The truth is that it comes down to two theories:
A - You actually think you are an esthetician and after watching enough Dr. Pimple Popper youtube videos so you feel confident you can extract your skin flawlessly.
B - There is an emotional connection to why you are attacking your face. It may be anxiety or the need to control something when your life feels out of sorts however there is an underlying issue that your face doesn’t deserve to feel the retaliation from.
So what can you do? There are so many ways to transition out of this habit and I’ve broken it down into 3 simple steps.
STEP 1 :
Like any compulsive habit we can stem it back to rooted issue as to when it may have started. Just recently I was talking to one of my favorite clients who has excellent skin but with every treatment she does tend to pick beforehand. This doesn’t give me the opportunity to do the work for her unfortunately so I spend the majority of the treatment salvaging what I can. After our last treatment we talked about how her mother, who is a nurse, would show extract her breakouts with a lancet needle. That’s when it clicked! My client was never taught to treat her skin any other way. So now that we have determined the root as to why we pick, it’s as simple as shifting the habit. I have had to pass 3 different state board exams in order to be able to have developed the 11 years of extraction skill and I can’t extract my own skin without breaking a blood vessel or prolonging the lifespan of the infection. We simply can’t get the same hand position that is crucial to extractions when we touch our own face. In addition, it takes me about 30 minutes of prep time to get the skin ready for an extraction session. After multiple cleansing, steaming, exfoliation and massaging the skin just enough, your skin is finally ready and only has a small window of time in which it can be extracted successfully. Afterwards I spent at least another 30 - 45 minutes repairing the damage so your skin can recover into a flawless complexion. Facials are not all created equal and there is a constant observation of how the skin is reacting as we go. Rarely do I work on someone where their skin reacts the same each time. So unless you have that level of experience there is no way for you to know when your skin is ready to be extracted and how to do it properly.
So now that you have determined how your picking habit developed it’s time to determine why you are still doing it. Most destructive habits from our youth need to shed away into our adulthood because our bodies start to respond differently as we age. Pulling all nighters, eating fast food and drinking every night soon to start taking enough of a toll and we grow out of that lifestyle. Caring for our skin is the same thing. Growing out of picking at our skin will help us get to our desired skin goal so much faster. Instead of going to town on our skin the second we get a blemish it’s important to try to determine what may have caused it in the first place. When you have an infection in any other area of our body we typically don’t pick at it, so why would the skin be any different? Treating the infection by reducing heat and inflammation is the best replacement habit you can form for your skin. Start by drinking a lot of water to flush out any lingering toxins sitting stagnant in your lymphatic system. You can also wrap up an ice cube in a soft cloth to massage on the infected area. Pulling out heat can calm the skin so much that you can tolerate the sensation of the breakout. Once the inflammation is reduced, you can decide to eat some greens and/carrots to get some of vitamins into your system. Carrots are nature’s vitamin A so instead of getting your retinol prescription refilled, try a pressed juice to get that glow. Shifting your habit will give you a better feel for what is actually going on with the skin and you’ll start to notice how efficiently your body can work to repair itself with the right habits.
STEP 3 :
There was once an ingrown hair on my leg that every time I was stuck in traffic I mindlessly found myself picking at. The nervousness I would get by just sitting in my car surrounded by the frantic energy of other vehicles on our way to or from work made me start to inflict harm on myself unintentionally. It wasn’t until one day I was doing it with my sister in the car that she pointed it out. I literally had no idea I was doing it until it was too late. So now I’m left with a scar on my leg but also with an enlightened sense of responsibility to myself when I find myself surrounded by the same sense of nervousness. Instead of taking out your feelings or anxieties on your skin, perhaps it's time to download a meditation app or start journalling. The job I was stuck in traffic to everyday was slowly killing me, I hated my bosses, it was slow and the energy was always hostile. I would get into the car and get stuck in LA rush hour with nothing to do but brew in my drained and lost emotional energy. It wasn’t until I realized why I was picking that I did something about it. Shifting your habit is one thing but taking care of yourself is another. If you see a breakout, call your esthetician to set up an appointment or do any of the above suggestions. If after those mindful practices you still don’t feel your best, perhaps there is more self care work to do. Look a little deeper and allow yourself to heal instead of hurt. Your skin will never really heal up unless you can cross out any of the emotional ties keeping you from feeling your best.
So maybe my 3 steps aren’t exactly simple but they are effective. Mostly because I’ve been through it and I’ve helped others through it as well. Next time you feel the need to pick or pop, reread this list and reach out for help. You deserve the skin you want and until you are ready to drop the habit that you’re a self taught esthetician, you may never see the results. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
xo - Hayley