mask-ne part 3 : 9 tips to alleviate mask zits

9 BEST STRATEGIES FOR ALLEVIATING MASK-NE

ok so now that the opinionated fashion show is over (mask-ne post #2), here’s the practical lifestyle stuff you’re dying to know!

1. WEAR THEM AS LITTLE POSSIBLE. meaning, WEAR THEM WHEN YOU NEED TO DUH BUT
if you are privileged to be able to, stay home or inside a space where you can safely be mask-less to avoid friction from the mask AND constant sweatiness onto your skin. the main goal here is to avoid friction, pressure, and constant sweatyness.

this makes me think of the many but one client in particular, RK, who had stubborn and inflamed pimples right where her eyeglasses sat on her cheeks and nose. having her switch to contacts (or another frame that didn’t sit directly on her zits) until those pimples healed did the trick, and allowed those stubborn zits to heal. once her skin was clear, she was able to wear those glasses again, with no problems.

however, not ever wearing masks is unrealistic for most, so as soon as you get home, or into your car with no one with you (or members of your household/pod), remove your mask and let your skin breathe (which you’re probably doing already anyway).

but you will have to wear them at some point, so if you can..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. OPT FOR CUP SHAPED MASKS.
choose masks that don’t collapse onto your lips. those flat rectangle ones with folds are super easy to make and find, but i found fabric constantly sat on my lips, getting soggy and wet from the humidity generated i talked and breathed, making things a sweaty mess – even more so if the fabric is thick, has multiple, unbreathable layers or you’re in a hot and/or humid climate.

my favorite ones are pictured above: cone-shaped k-95’s, and the gata mask.

3. WIPE YOUR SWEATY SELF DOWN.
if you’re sweating under that mask, wipe the sweat off your face with a clean cloth from time to time. i keep a small clean hand towel in my bag just for this purpose. look for really thin, absorbent and quick-drying ones, so you can easily have one with you on the go.

and if you don’t already have them, give these washable makeup removing sponges i love a try. just make sure to give them a good wash before using, and instead of throwing them in the dryer after laundering, hang to dry to keep them soft.

4. ROTATE YOUR MASKS
because you technically should be using them once and then washing (if reuseable) or tossing them anyway (i do reuse my disposable ones a few times before tossing though 😬😬😬). main point: if you have different styles of masks, try wearing a different kind each day.

because different masks will lay on your skin in slightly different places in slightly different ways, alternating the different mask shapes allow your skin a little break from the physical pressure of wearing them, on the same exact place, day in and out.

5. ACNE-SAFE LAUNDRY DETERGENT AND NO SOFTENER!
if you are using fabric masks and the towel trick as suggested above, make sure you are washing these things with acne-safe stuff. here’s the big blog post about why this is a thing, and brands/types that look acne-safe to use.

6. DO YOUR BEST TO KEEP SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION DOWN.
i have a client with really REALLY sensitive skin, who’s a nurse and breaks out every time she has to wear a mask to work at the hospital (we troubleshot this long before covid). things that helped her skin the best, which helped her skin break out the least include:

– taking anti-inflammatory supplements (like zyflamend, optizinc or nordic naturals omega-3 supplements) before and after her shifts
– avoiding inflammatory foods by eating low-glycemic (especially coffee, because this inflames you AND boosts your cortisol levels, a type of hormone, which for the acne-prone, usually shows up as breakouts around the mouth; the same goes for soy).
– a regular schedule of enough quality sleep
– consistent stress management (whatever this means to you, as long as they’re constant + healthy ways, ok?!)
– and of course, icing your face!

a.k.a. all the same things we’ve been telling you to clear your skin!!

7. USE PRODUCTS THAT ARE BOTH ACNE SAFE + ACNE FIGHTING.
i’ve been wearing masks all this time, walking around in hot and sweaty ass japan and have had zero breakouts. then, i got a facial at a spa that used cloggy products (i knew this going in but i needed to explore japanese technique while i had access in a safe environment) and lo and behold, the next morning i got a pimple right where the mask sits on my nose.

SO: acne-safe and active acne clearing products to prevent future and treat existing acne. usually this will mean a chemical exfoliant of some kind (like one of our mandelic toners or one of our glycolic or salicylic serums), but for some, benzoyl peroxide in addition to an exfoliant might be necessary too.

*bonus tip: remember to keep your lip stuff and toothpaste acne-safe too. this stuff spreads all over the lower half of your face and can break you out, even if you’re not making out with anyone. just saying.

*super bonus tip: thanks to sS’er MLW: when she’s not too lazy, she’ll apply a layer of the youngblood mineral makeup primer (or tizo spf; they’re both silicone-based + acne-safe so should work) before putting a mask on, as a barrier between her skin and the mask. we also suspected that it wasn’t just the friction of the hospital masks that were causing problems for her, but that there might have been some kind of chemical or substance sprayed onto them, leaving a residue on her skin. they smelled “medical-y,” if you know what we mean.

8. YOU CAN TRY GETTING TREATMENTS
obviously, only if you’re able to do so safely, HOWEVER because you’ll still likely need to keep wearing masks, the acne will come back. remember, all of these tips are ideas to manage the mask-ne, not control or completely get rid of them (close to impossible for acne-prone skin until your pores have outgrown their acne phase).

9. IT IS WHAT IT IS.
the truth of it is, perfection is just unattainable. sorry. more importantly, it’s way better to get zits than to spread or get covid. both suck of course, but if you had to choose, i hope you agree that zits are the better choice. you can use all the greatest products and get all the extractions but the reality is, if you have to keep wearing masks (as you should), you’re likely gonna keep breaking out.

so, making peace with the fact that you are keeping your community safe AND feeling empowered because you know exactly why you’re breaking out (remember when it was all a mystery before you starting working with us? you also now know what needs to happen for it to clear up) i think is the best and most realistic bet. you know, changing the things you can change and accepting the things you can’t. 😉

BONUS PLUS OF WEARING MASKS

because you don’t really have to wear lipstick or makeup, you’re giving your skin a chance to rest from makeup, and saving money by not using up your stash.

PLUS, as an enthusiastically loyal, look-on-the-bright-side sS’er KS mentioned, wearing a mask is a form of physical block from the sun, which can help to slow down aging and wrinkling of the skin!

hope these tips make sense, help you out, give you some new things to try and more positive perspective. it’s a lot of info (as how i usually do). let me know what you think, if you have more ideas or different experiences than what i shared here. i want to know, and others may be able to benefit too.

thanks for reading and peace!
love, kim

mask-ne and shelter in place 101

hey y’all, kim here currently in tokyo holed up in my tiny airbnb apartment safely sheltering in place. i hope you are holding it down, staying healthy and sane.

a couple of clients emailed to ask about how to deal with life as it is right now, and what to do about mask-ne (acne you’re getting from wearing masks!). here are the thoughts i jot down and sent them, and hope you find them helpful too.

basically everything we’ve ever taught you about living a low-inflammatory, acne-safe lifestyle are the same things that should bring stability and calm in your life during this stressful time. sleeping and eating at regular times, exercising daily, managing your stress in whatever ways work best for you, etc etc – no magic silver bullet, all the same shit. 🙂

i’ve been incorporating all of these while trying to practice extra compassion for myself which i think has been working – along with cooking all of my meals, i’ve finally gotten to a place where i’m razor-focused on (finally) finishing up the acne book! (i’m two weeks in, and i hope to have it all finished by the end of may. wish me luck!)

hoping these resources help you out, let me know if you have other ideas to share, want me to cover more areas or find more resources for you.

SHELTER IN PLACE LIFESTYLE

this is a big one. everything we’ve always taught our clients lifestyle-wise is to be integrated for exactly this particularly stressful time. most importantly, be gentle with yourself. it’s an incredibly unprecedented stressful time and judging yourself is not going help one bit. try to move towards a mindset of doing things that make you happy but also are good and healthy for you – in a way, just loving yourself as you are.
some IG accounts i love:
  • @lalahdelia – author of ‘vibrate higher daily’, a beautiful black woman author, spiritual writer and wellness educator
  • @the.holistic.psychologist – queer psychologist nicole lepera tells it like it is, speaks truths you didn’t even know you needed to disseminate and process; boundaries, trauma, addiction, ego, self-betrayal, all of it. really really deep work that i’m so grateful for her making so accessible and easy to understand.
  • @repairing_the_nervous_system – jessica macguire out of australia (i think?), she speaks specifically how to self-regulate the nervous system through trauma and the body
  • @kanpobliss – dr. jun negoro, an acupuncturist i have been following for years on IG and finally got to meet while in singapore earlier this year. she breaks down TCM into easy to understand (and cute!!) posts, and her app is impressively amazing and free!  a great tool to easily integrate some TCM knowledge and practice into your life.
some of my personal youtube playlists:
i’ll continue adding to these playlists as i discover new cool things i like.

2 ingredient sweet potato roti! the video is on my youtube playlist, but it’s pretty simple: mash together 1 part hot + steaming sweet potato with 1/2 to 1 part flour. once all is thoroughly mixed, form a log and cut into even pieces (1 whole potato +flour will make about 6 rotis). roll out onto a floured surface to 2mm thickness, then cook on a dry fry pan on medium heat, flipping every 30 seconds for about 2-3 mins. puffing up is ok, they’ll deflate naturally when you pull them off the pan. when done, tuck them into a cloth napkin/towel blanket to keep them warm and flexible. leftovers can be stored in an airtight bag to keep them soft, and gently warmed on the stove + will keep the next day or two, longer in the fridge. sooo good for avocado and/or whatever wraps. enjoy!

ALL THOSE MUNCHIES YOU ARE EATING

  • try eating only sweets that you make. this is how i’ve been getting through it (especially since i don’t want to go out, and food made by others you don’t know what’s in them, and refined sugar is high). michael pollan in one of his books wrote, it’s ok to eat junk food if you make it yourself; chances are you will just eat less of it, appreciate it more, and use better quality ingredients
  • try eating fruit as a sweet instead of something that has straight-up sugar in it
  • try using low glycemic sugars like coconut sugar, jaggery or treacle to replace regular cane sugar in your recipes. jaggery or treacle you can find at ethnic food markets so you’ll be supporting small local biz while avoiding crowded big box stores too 🙂 (ps, you can usually reduce sugar in recipes by half, and the finished thing will come out totally ok!)
  • i personally also make it a rule to eat savory food first and eat a sweet afterward (or as an isolated afternoon snack) as a treat, to keep my (usually high) blood sugar stable.
  • lastly, a tip that i got from my mama: brush your teeth immediately after eating. this for some reason helps me not crave sweets after getting my mouth all minty fresh. i’d say it works about 95% of the time – but maybe moreso because i’m just too lazy to brush my teeth again 🙂

MOVE YA BODY

  • man this is tough for me too, always has been. but, i have been doing 20-30 minute workouts (here’s my youtube list) and on @popsugarfitness ‘ IGTV, because when you think about it, 20-30 minutes really isn’t that much time. you can do anything for 20 mins. or maybe even 10! anything to start, you’ll likely keep going once you get started and get over the hump. with that in mind, i’m more motivated to get a short but effective workout in before i eat breakfast. it also helps me concentrate better, and be in a much better and healthier mood. (tip: you can watch IG TV on your desktop, just go to their profile and click the IGTV icon underneath their highlights; makes for much easier viewing while following along)
  • try to exercise without thinking about it. just do it first thing when you wake up and put your workout clothes on. the 30 mins you’d take waffling back and forth about it will be over and you’d have already been done with your workout!
  • if you can get outside while social distancing safely, getting out into nature or just outside for a walk in fresh air (with a mask) counts too. now (or ever) is not the time to guilt yourself for not training for a crazy marathon. just getting out of the house (even just sitting on your stoop or on the roof) for some direct exposure to natural weather elements definitely counts for something.
  • keeping a daily schedule is helpful just so there is some structured flow in your day. this can include showering first thing in the am, putting on an “outside” outfit even if working from home, and then changing back into pj’s after a nice nighttime bath to prepare for bed.

GENERAL PHYSICAL HEALTH STUFF:

  • eating enough at regular times is really important. there’s a huge tendency to snack all day and that can mess with the digestion, not giving the stomach enough time in between digesting meals to create more of the digestive juices needed for your guts to break down and assimilate the food we eat. finding an activity or hobby to keep you occupied will help boredom munchies 😉
  • keeping a regular bedtime is also super important; i get into bed at 10, read a book and aim to sleep by 11 latest.
  • ok so a client emailed about drinking “several matcha teas a day” – maybe you can relate to caffeine consumption or any other excessive thing you’re doing now that you don’t do “normally”. and so i wrote: hopefully you are making them and not drinking bottled sugary/dairy stuff. can you think about what you are compensating for in drinking so much caffeine? is it just something you’re doing without thinking about it, or are you super tired because your sleep schedule is wonky? in any case, these are things to think about, evaluate and adjust. personally,i alternate between matcha, golden milk, ginger and chocolate drinks i make myself with water, nut milks and a tiny bit of coconut sugar.
  • it’s a great time to google recipes to try! i’ve bookmarked a ton of recipes i always wanted to try and never got to do them til now, like a 2 ingredient sweet potato roti, 2 ingredient paleo banana pancake, banana oatmeal cookies and savory recipes from all over the world – think of your favorite dishes to order when you go to eat thai or chinese for example.
  • or support your local small businesses for new food ideas – think bodegas, ethnic grocery stores, or restaurants that are offering pickup. there are tons of gems out there if you take the time to try out a new spice mix or tamale joint.

GENERAL GET YOUR MIND RIGHT MENTAL HEALTH STUFF:

  • you all know by now that i love using the‘simple habit’ meditation app; there are soooo many well-curated gems in there and this app has helped me so much through my last several stressful years. the link will give you 2 weeks for free.
  • journaling / writing things down / lists help me get my thoughts, frustrations, fears, dreams and ideas out of my head, which helps my mind settle for bedtime / be generally less stressed out throughout the day
  • make sure to get some laughs in your day; @thedailyshow and @sarahcpr on IG have been keeping me informed but in a way that emits laughs. oh man. classic stand-up shows are also really good.
  • keep in touch with folks, staying in touch with your community and those you love can make or break your day. this is a PERFECT opportunity to catch up with people you’ve been meaning to get to know better, or spend more time with, like elders in your neighborhood
  • i’ve personally been very triggered by the current events in the us (political, racial violence), so i try to limit my exposure/reading of that stressful media AND do what i can to act on the cause; to me this means raising awareness and writing emails to government offices, signing petitions. seeing the shit and not doing anything about it makes me feel powerless and defeated, so doing even one small thing helps me feel more empowered and less depressed about the world.
  • it helps to get friends on board, or at least know what you’re up to. if you have roommates you can let them know that you want to work in healthier habits and maybe they can join in with you, or at least morally support you.

MASK-NE: if you’re breaking out from wearing all these damn masks

  • ice as per usual, maybe even more. it’s definitely meditative so will do double duty in calming your nerves by taking your mind off everything else except the freezing cold
  • consider taking the supplements optizinc or zyflamend for systemic inflammatory support; a nurse client has done this for years and it’s helped (we stopped selling them but you can easily find them online)
  • if you can wear a new clean fabric mask that you switch out every day vs those paper n95 type / breath-restricting kinds every day that would be better for breathability and skin friction but if you can’t there’s not much room to work with 🙁 i ordered a mask and matching headwrap from this lovely nigerian-born-in-italy-scientist-turned-designer iffy of olive ankara i met in singapore that allows you to tuck a surgical mask inside the washable cloth mask, so finding or making something like this could be good. those clear plastic face shields are good too, but aren’t to replace masks. (ALSO scroll down to see sS’er marissa making masks by hand in the bay for donations or free!)
  • try to stay inside safe spaces where you don’t need to wear masks as much as you can ie at home and when alone in your car
  • wash your face and ice as soon as you get home and if you can, tolerate toner / exfoliate
  • manage other inflammatory factors as much as possible incorporating stress management, emotional support, self-compassion, low glycemic diet, regular sleep habits, hydration etc etc. all the healthy things we teach you is to keep inflammation down
  • at this point it is what it is and this all we can do. stay strong and rest in the fact you know what your acne is from and know what to do to get rid of it as soon as you’re able (to stop wearing the masks!)
  • come for treatment when the clinic opens back up, but know that repeated wearing of the masks will still pose the same irritations

ice ya face! image source: healthline.com

IF YOU’RE BREAKING OUT IN GENERAL

maybe you’ve been eating stuff or experimenting with products and are breaking out. or are just maintaining your already clear skin! either case, stick with your BASIC regimen twice a day. do this for at least 2-3 weeks before trying to work any of the other stuff (including serums) back in, if you even need them at that point:
  • cleanse
  • ice
  • tone – probably 5% if you can tolerate that twice a day. if not, then 2.5% once then twice til you run out then 5%
  • hydrating gel or rejuvenation serum if you have/need it
  • spf in the day and hydrating cream at night
this will address pretty much any and all skin concerns (breaking out, inflammation, anti-aging), and keeping inflammation down is paramount to keeping the purge as painless as possible.
again, stick with the basics and check-in with us in a few weeks to see how we can bump it up, if you even need to.
rejuvenation serum is safe to use anytime, after toning and before moisturizing preferably day to protect against sun damage, but nighttime works too because it feels and smells good, which will help lift your spirits (and offer moisture/antioxidant support to your skin).

SHAMELESS sS’er PLUGS:

a couple of our fab clients are doing great things for the community and i want to share them with you! check these ladies out and give them a shout. and please let me know if you’re doing something awesome you’d like me to share too 🙂

sS’er marissa (@marissadpoulin) has been getting crafty and is making masks for donations (and for free if you can’t donate). she’s got several fabrics to choose from – check her out on IG if you are interested 🙂

lovely sS’er berlin-based acupuncturist rachel root made some super cute videos: “three morning routines for a better day” and “couples acupressure massage“.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, KERRY’S NEW INSTAGRAM!

since she is now operating independently as a licensee of skinSALVATION, we thought it’d be a good idea for her to start a new IG page to communicate to her SF clients directly about clinic-related updates. you can keep up with what she’s up to on her daily walks, and updates as they come. give her a follow here 🙂

remember to breathe deeply (and safely), be patient, be kind.
we’re all going through it, together.
take good care of you and each other.
xo
kim

acne-causing heavy metals in protein powders – how a client’s own detective research cleared him up!

the team at skinSALVATION does a lot of investigating in order to find the safest and best quality foods and products to recommend to our clients to keep their skin clear long term. we absolutely love it when our clients become detectives in their own right and bring our attention to potential acne triggers that we haven’t discovered yet. yay for teamwork!!
recently, one of our savvy male clients, TB, came across this super interesting report on protein powders put out by an organization called, “the clean label project”. they “use data and science to reveal the true contents of america’s best selling consumer products. products are tested in an accredited analytical chemistry laboratory for 130 harmful environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins, and their results are published as product ratings.” the clean label project currently tests baby food, pet foods, and protein powders. there are some people out there that weren’t as impressed with the clean label project as we were and in an effort to provide all perspectives and information available. we want to share this link where the writer talks about some of the clean label project’s shortcomings and issues with it’s research.
TB, a very active vegan athlete looked up protein powders, and unearthed information on the one he had been taking – which looked acne-safe (meaning, it didn’t contain soy or whey or other acne-causing foods we look for). through this report, he found out more about its’ nutritional value, heavy metals, pesticides and mycotoxins and we were shocked by the findings.
CASE STUDY
TB came to us in september of 2017 with over-exfoliated, inflamed and picked-at skin. his clarity at the time was about 60% and 95% of the acne lesions that he did have were inflamed. being a gluten-free vegan, his protein options dramatically decreased after learning that he’d need to stop eating acne-causing soy in order to clear up his skin. on top of this, we discovered that he was likely suffering from a systemic candida imbalance after he scored high on this candida questionnaire. he decided to embark on a vegan candida cleanse but because the diet was so restrictive he only lasted on it for about 3 weeks. (generally, folks stay on this whole + natural foods diet for 2-3 months to clear up the candida. candida can cause sS-resistant acne, among other more serious long-term conditions).  he also started taking this anti-fungal candida control tincture which is the other necessary component to getting candida successfully and fully under control. (ideally, you need to avoid all sugars in your diet to starve the yeast, and supplement by taking anti-fungals to clean out and purge the excess yeast. there are many other components to this; check out our other posts on candida). he continued to work hard to avoid soy, sugar, gluten and eat as close to the candida diet as he could and we started to see his inflammation calm down and his clarity improve.
in addition to the dietary changes and supplement regimen, he was coming in for regular treatments and using our targeted skinSALVATION home care products. unlike most clients we see, his acne was really not extractable (he was too inflamed), so instead of focusing on extractions during his treatments we opted for chemical peels, high frequency (a machine that kills acne bacteria, reduces inflammation and speeds up healing) and 20 minutes under our LED panel to further heal the skin and combat inflammation at a deeper level.  we continued to do extractions where we could. by his 4th treatment on november 26, 2017 he was 80% clear and showing vast improvement in terms of inflammation and overall skin health. by january 21, 2018, he was 95% clear. check out his amazing transformation below!
THE PROTEIN POWDER DISCOVERY
after moving away from the bay area, TB reached out to us, letting us know about the clean label project study. he had been taking vega protein powder every day, even several times a day for about 6 months before seeing us. his skin had got really bad, super inflamed with very deep cysts in april-aug 2017, around the time he starting taking the vega protein powder.
at his consultation appointment in 9/2017, his clarity was 60% and most of that was the inflamed and cystic type of acne. he was baffled as to why his skin had gotten so bad over the last few months when really nothing had changed. looking back we both really think that this protein powder is the main reason it got so bad. another major factor was probably physical stress from all the intense working out he was doing at that time – he himself said his body looked it’s best but his skin looked it’s worst!
we didn’t think of the protein powder to be a major acne-causing factor for him at the time because the ingredients seemed acne safe (no soy or dairy/whey) – and he was eating so much soy up until we told him how much soy breaks all of our other clients out. shortly after his first treatment at the end of 9/2017, he started the candida cleanse, had two colonics and backed off the protein powder because he wasn’t working out as much anymore. we started to see a big improvement in his skin towards the end of november, 2017 at his 4th treatment and it quickly improved from there. by january 2018 (3 months after first starting with us) he was 95% clear and has been able to maintain that after moving away from the bay area.
through the clean label project’s research, vega was found to be one of the worst rated, containing high levels of toxic heavy metals (!!!). after sharing his story of clarity working with sS on social media, several folks on social media contacted him regarding vega protein powder, citing similar acne experiences while consuming the same thing!
here are some interesting facts from the study to note:
  • organic protein powders had on average 2x the heavy metals than conventional ones
  • egg protein was the cleanest with the least heavy metals/toxins
  • plant-based powders were on average, the most toxic
  • 75% of plant-based tested most positive for lead (they are doing more research on how and why toxins get into these foods so stay tuned for another post once this research comes out)
after reviewing the study findings, we are no longer recommending vega protein powder to our clients and we are currently looking into safer options. so far we have found the following to be acne-safe and clean-project-label-clear on paper, but have yet to actually see clients through using these powders for an extended period of time:
protein source: hemp protein
EAT REAL FOOD
it’s also important to keep in mind that protein powder is a dietary supplement which may be helpful in a pinch, but is not going to be the best option to replace actual real whole natural food meals humans should be eating every day. remember, these are SUPPLEMENTS and NOT everyday meal replacements! instead of making a protein powder shake your daily go-to breakfast, try some of these quick + easy, make-ahead options instead:
steel-cut, gluten-free oatmeal topped with hemp seeds and fresh berries (you can easily no-cook this by soaking them them overnight in the fridge, they’ll be ready in the am)
sprouted grain toast and eggs
hardboiled eggs, fermented veggies (like saurekraut or kimchi) and avocado (super easy to get ready the night before)
avocado toast with kite hill “cream cheese”
avocado and sugar-free lox
low sugar granola and unsweetened almond milk (kim loves this over cut up papaya)
TAKEAWAY

a mantra from kreation organic juicery in the LA area – you are what you eat. don’t be cheap, fast, fake or easy!

how to stop picking your skin!

image source: trich.org

ARE YOU A PICKER?

if you consciously or unconsciously pop, squeeze, poke, scratch, peel, extract, pinch, or rub at your skin – this blog post is for you! at skinSALVATION, if you do any of the above to your skin, we consider you a “picker”. i know, i know, it’s not the most lovely of titles. i wasn’t happy to learn i was a picker; i thought i was extracting my acne properly when i saw white stuff come out! but it comes down to this – it doesn’t matter how exactly you’re messing with your skin, if you are physically aggravating it with your hands or other tools, you are going to slow down the clearing process.

this is a big deal. being a picker will be an important factor in how fast we are able to clear up your skin; your journey to clear skin will be a slower, more frustrating one if you are unable to keep your hands off your face. sometimes, if the picking (or scratching, rubbing, etc) is bad enough, it will inhibit people from clearing up altogether.

unfortunately, it can be super difficult for people to keep their hands off, especially when they see a juicy white head that looks ready to extract! so, while i know how hard it is and have compassion for those struggling (especially since i have had trouble quitting the picking behavior myself), it is also my job to get clients to leave their skin alone, so don’t hate me when i ask you “how is the picking is going?”

so, we have an array of suggestions, some may be helpful for you and others may not be, but as i tell clients everyday at sS – some effort is better than no effort! it is worth a shot, and any decrease in the physical aggravation to your skin will increase the rate at which you clear up.

as a side note, even the estheticians here at skinSALVATION refrain from extracting our own skin. there’s so much that goes into a proper extraction – you need good light and a clear view of the pore opening so that you can ease the seed out with as little trauma to the skin as possible. you also need the right leverage to get the right angle to completely clear the seed out of the pore. too much pressure in the wrong spot can rupture the cell walls, which leads to bacteria spreading, new breakouts in pores nearby, and the textural scarring known as pock marks. after all – anyone can get a mirror and a pair of scissors to cut their own hair – but will it be as good a cut than if you let a professional do it for you?

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:

1. i remind my clients all the time, some progress is better than no progress, and all progress is worth giving yourself credit for! taking (small) steps everyday to self-care / self-love adds up overtime. try to think through the process of what happened the last time you picked. you probably ended up with a big mark that took forever to heal, and scarred, right?? cultivating this gentle mindset towards yourself is a HUGE way of giving yourself self-love.

 

2. be open to professional help. if stopping picking altogether was as easy as reading a blog post and taking a few suggestions, we’d all be cured! as you know by now, unfortunately, it can be a complicated behavior to stop. there are cognitive behaviorial therapists that specialize in BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior). kristin southwick is a great one that has helped many of our clients with excessive picking of the skin – she’s no longer working within the bay area, but may be available for remote counseling (email us so we can send you her information). trich.org is a great resource to find help and community!

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD OF PICKING:

ice your face, #1 recommendation we make to clients of all time. it will help decrease inflammation = make acne less pickable. we have most of our clients using these ice pop makers. you can ice for up to 30 minutes, just remember to cleanse your face beforehand and keep the ice moving (to avoid frostbite) and don’t apply too much pressure (this can lead to more inflammation). icing works well to treat existing inflamed acne as well as prevent it, and it helps to drive your active products further into the skin. win win win!

squeeze a stress ball! this can be helpful for those who unconsciously pick their skin, for example while on the computer or watching tv. these are the isoflex stress balls we hand to our clients during our signature face treatments, to keep their hands busy 🙂 koosh balls, play dough, anything your hands can fiddle with will work.

meditation can be helpful to reduce stress levels, and if stress is one of your “picking triggers” this would be a more preventative approach. it could also help right in the moment too though! we recommend clients use the simple habitcalm or insight timer apps for guided meditations. youtube has super helpful videos too, and if you find that meditating is difficult because your mind starts going a mile a minute when you try to sit quietly (my experience), then body scan meditations are a great place to start! i like this one because it’s only four minutes. meditating is a practice of being aware, and noticing your mind wander off (and bringing it back to the meditation) is awareness in itself.

turn the lights down low. we suggest that you refrain from turning the bathroom light on when doing your regimen. instead, you can light candles (i find this makes it more of a self-care routine versus a self-critique session), set up a himalayan salt lamp, or just simply leave the door open so the hallway light can get in. overall, the idea is to have more flattering lighting. one of our esties, kayla, never turns the big light on when doing her regimen and this has helped her immensely.

 

here are a few gadgets that you can try out. this toy soybean is a keychain so you could use on the go! this keychain is supposed to be like bubble wrap. if you want to try something that literally looks like a pimple, you could try this, called the pop it pal.

 

find (and use) resources online. check out our pinterest board on skin picking for more strategies to keep your hands off your face, as well as for ideas on how to live the acne-safe lifestyle to avoid the formation of acne in the first place!

free your mind with EFT! try using the emotional freedom technique (EFT). if you haven’t heard of it, do not worry, i did some research and included my findings below. i based most of the information on what gary craig, the founder of eft, says on his website and youtube videos. i think it has potential to help people stop picking their skin – it seems a little woo-woo but is worth a shot!

SOME BACKGROUND ON EFT:

according to gary craig, “the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system”. if that statement is true, based on that basic idea, energy disruptions are the reason for any emotional issue, whether it be actual emotions like grief or other issues that have emotional roots like stage fright. once you identify the energy disruption, you can use the tapping process to correct them. the eft tapping basic recipe is described in detail in this blog post so that you can simply read along and apply it to whatever personal issue you want to improve upon/release.

here’s another explanation of this technique given by holistic doctor mercola:

eft is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.

this combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” — the emotional block — from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.

and yet another anecdote: after suffering from allergies for years, our founder + ceo finally found drug-free + long-term relief with advanced allergy clinic, whose work is very similar to EFT, as dr. mercola has described (except without the verbal affirmations). feel free to email kim@skinsalvationsf.com to find out more about her experience!

we are going to use the example problem of having the “urge to pick skin”. before reading on, if you want to watch an introductory video with some clips of people who have changed their lives using eft you can click here.

the points used are based on the pathways (meridians and vessels) that acupuncturists use. they are either on/near the end-points of the energy pathways or at points along these pathways that are close to the body’s surface. the theory is that the tapping stimulates the energy pathways thereby balancing the disruptions.

BASIC RECIPE FOR EFT:

one important thing to keep in mind: language used always aims at negative because it’s the negative that creates energy disruptions (and the eft goal is to neutralize them).

also, if you’re a visual learner, it might be helpful to watch the video i based the notes below on.

1st step: identify issue and make assessment on current intensity of problem, how bad on scale of 0-10.

  • example phrase: urge to pick at skin, level of 8.

2nd step: setup. tap the karate chop (KC) point with two or more fingers (fleshy part of outside of hand) while saying setup phrase in the format of “even though i have this ____, i deeply and completely accept myself.”

  • example phrase: even though i have this urge to pick my skin, i deeply and completely accept myself

3rd step: sequence. while tapping each point about five times, say a reminder phrase that includes a brief statement to remind our system what we’re working on. each point is marked on the diagram below.

  • example phrase: “this urge to pick my skin”

1st point: top of head (TOH). tap with your finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

2nd point: beginning of eyebrow point (EB). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

3rd point: side of eye on corner of orbital bone (SE). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

4th point: under eye on orbital bone (UE). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

5th point: under the nose (UN). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

6th point: chin point midway between bottom of lip and chin (CH). tap with 2 fingers while saying reminder phrase.

7th point: collarbone (CB). take fist and thump in area somebody would tie their tye while saying reminder phrase.

8th point: under armpit/on rib cage (UA). take finger and put right on hollow part of armpit, then go down straight 4 inches. tap with 4 fingers while saying reminder phrase.

4th step: reassess issue on scale of 0-10.

  • example: urge to pick at skin, level of 4.

5th step: repeat until goes down to zero or plateaus. if it plateaus, then according to gary, you need to get to the root of the issue more. you can read more about how to do that here.

KEEP US INFORMED:

if you use any of the suggestions mentioned in this post, let us know about your results so that we can better help other people! email emily@skinsalvationsf.com or frontdesk@skinsalvationsf.com

blake’s acne journey

march 2018, loving the skin i’m in.

 

i don’t remember a time when i didn’t have acne. not once in 22 years can i remember having clear, smooth, beautiful skin. what i do remember is staring at my mother’s skin and wondering when mine would finally be like hers. and guess what- i’m not there yet. i’m still working on it, each and every day. before i dive into my journey, it’s important to understand my background when it comes to my family values and views of health, as i grew up with an amazing and unique outlook on my body and a respect for how it works.

 

i was born in boise, idaho, to two badass humans. my mom and dad opened a wildly successful chiropractic office that served hundreds of people every day and built the house of our dreams just a short drive away. i am one of three sisters (i’m the middle child) and my parents consciously chose to raise us holistically, taking an inside-out approach to health (not outside-in) and instilling within us an understanding and consciousness of what goes in our body and how the nervous system works.

 

my mom gave birth to all three of us at home, 100% naturally, with my dad right there by her side. my dad adjusted our spines two minutes after we entered the world and has continued to do so ever since. my sisters and i have never been vaccinated, taken prescription drugs, or have been hospitalized. i was taught that “the power that made the body heals the body”, and so i was never handed advil when i had a headache, or cough syrup when i had a cold. i took care of myself, stayed healthy, and whenever i did come down with something, i allowed my body to do what it does best – heal!

 

as i developed, so did my acne. my incredible mom, being the holistic warrior that she is, tried and tried and tried to help clear my skin. we acknowledged that being a teenager, my hormones were playing a huge part but that ended up being only one small piece of an enormous puzzle when it came to my acne. i tried dozens of natural products, made half assed-attempts to cut dairy (…failed instantly and repeatedly) and we eventually found ourselves bouncing from dermatologist to dermatologist in search of answers. 

my non-inflamed acne was, in a word, severe.

my face was extremely congested and i lost all confidence. i shied away from my love of volleyball and quit the team. i became a homebody and dreaded going to my work as a restaurant hostess in fear that a co-worker or worse – a customer – would mention it.

 

i finally gave up on my skin and fell into a state of depression, accepting that the only way to fix my skin was to go against our values of health. at 15, my mother and i accepted the derm’s recommendation to start birth control. my mom was SUPER against it, but i had come to a crossroad of choosing my beliefs or my happiness, and i chose the latter.

 

fast forward a year or so and i graduated high school, took a few photos and disappeared without saying goodbye to anyone because of my skin. right before i moved to san francisco for college, my acne worsened – something that, with my skin already being so bad, i didn’t think was possible. after hours of research, my mom found the “best derm in san diego” and said we should try them out. before writing this post, i called and had them send me a summary of my visits in order to remember all the notes and prescriptions about my skin, and they sent a 41 PAGE PDF.

ashamed of my skin (hard to see in this pic) and disregarding my own graduation.

on 6/5/13, we met with the derm and went over my challenges and goals. i stated that i had tried epiduo and differin for 6 months, minocycline for 2 months, the birth control pill for two years and a 10% glycolic cleanser…she definitely had her work cut out for her. she prescribed me 20-40mg of zenatane and saw me back in a month. she then prescribed me 100 mg of minocycline and 100 mg of spironolactone. i then returned twice in two months for salicylic acid peels.

 

my acne didn’t change and i was ready to give up. the final “solution” was her recommending isotretinoin (accutane) in november of 2013 when i was already living in sf and in my freshman year of college. to put this into perspective – in her over 20 years of practice i was the FOURTH person she had ever prescribed accutane to. fed up and having reached my breaking point, i did it. i signed up for the iPledge program (a requirement for those going on the drug), acknowledged the side effects, and was pregnancy tested through both urine and blood.

 

the next seven visits were spaced out over the course of 7 months. each month i went and had my blood taken at LabCorp (terrifying for a kid that had never even set foot in a doctors office) and flew down to san diego for my derm appointment, which included a urine pregnancy test as a second confirmation (it’s extremely harmful to become pregnant while on this drug) and then a skin analysis. by visit #7 i had developed eczema on my arms, my lips cracked and bled open. i had the driest, most uncomfortable skin and couldn’t wear makeup because of how my face physically felt. i also couldn’t go in the sun at all, for risk of sunburn (with my already fair skin). by visit #9 my skin worsened and was i prescribed acanya gel. i was mortified when i looked in the mirror and was so freaking frustrated. 

*fun fact: i had my wisdom teeth removed recently and when the surgeon showed me my teeth, the roots were BROWN. naturally i asked why and he said it was from taking accutane and all the other oral acne prescriptions. i was horrified to say the least. case in point: it’s disturbing to know that i put something in my body that made the roots turn brown, but i was a young girl desperate to feel comfortable in her own skin who, like thousands of others, was misinformed by the marketing around the acne and cosmetic industry.

it’s important to note that this was my first year of college, a time that you’re supposed to be out meeting people and having fun. i couldn’t drink with friends being on accutane and i was mortified about my skin. i felt horrible at my job and avoided going out as much as possible, leading me to hide in my dorm and become depressed. it was high school all over again. by my last visit, visit #12 (6/25/14) she noted that i had “some improvement” (ugh!) i had reached the max dosage of 80mg of accutane and i was sent on my way. my skin had improved slightly but nothing like i believed and hoped it would. i had watched transformation stories on Youtube and was convinced my skin would clear up just like theirs. i created an unrealistic expectation in my head and was devastated when it wasn’t fulfilled by this drug.

over the next few years, i cleared up a little bit but not by much. i was back on birth control and ignored my mom’s encouraging words of “stop eating dairy, drink more water, etc.”. every time i returned home for a family visit i was getting hydrafacials from an esthetician my mom and sisters knew. it helped to extract a bit of my non-inflamed acne but the acne always immediately returned. during my junior year of college, i studied abroad in vienna, austria. my acne got worse due to my diet of cheese and alcohol. i was traveling around europe three times a month and drinking very frequently, while the stress of school and loneliness of living in a foreign country continued to wreak havoc on my skin (and mental + emotional health).

 

in sep 2016, i found skinSALVATION on yelp. i started researching and bookmarked the website under the “important” tab on my phone. as a broke college kid, i saved up my tips and booked an initial consultation for feb 2017. i was in a lot of debt from going abroad and promised myself i would afford my treatments and products with the tips from my serving job. i literally came home after every shift and put them in an envelope titled “for a rainy day”, A.K.A the freaking cure for my skin!

 

at my consultation, my esthetician determined that i was 40% clear. this number was daunting. it stuck in my head and made me feel defeated but was important to track my progress. my partner came to my consultation and was shocked at seeing my non-inflamed acne under the light during the skin analysis. he was sweet and supportive, but never truly understood what i dealt with until that moment.

 

after the consultation, i rushed home with all the knowledge and tools i learned, printed my homework email and taped it to the inside of my medicine cabinet and purged my apartment of anything that contained dairy and soy. i said my tearful goodbyes with cheese, my favorite food, and haven’t had it since! i’ve never drank coffee so i thankfully didn’t have that hurdle to jump over. as months passed, my skin improved to 80%. i graduated college and got married in the same week (…just a LITTLE bit stressful!) and icing helped keep my skin calm during quite possibly the most stressful seven days of my life! i became so interested in skinSALVATION and passionate about what my esthetician, kayla, was teaching me that i ended up applying to be the full-time front desk gal.

feeling incredible!

surrounding myself with incredible, intelligent and supportive women makes the diet and lifestyle feel simple. my skin has fluctuated between 70-80% clear due to finally ditching the birth control pill which has made my skin go through a purging phase while my hormones regulate themselves. i’m aware that i have a systemic imbalance due to my love of sugar and am looking into working alongside a naturopath and will eventually embark on the candida cleanse to help clear that last 20%.

 

my journey isn’t done yet, but you know what? i’m happy and feel comfortable in my own skin. i feel beautiful and love taking care of my body. i’m grateful to not obsess over percentages anymore and accept my progress. skinSALVATION has given me more than clear, manageable skin – it’s given me the confidence and positive mindset that i was searching for all along.

my rockstar mom who supported me through many years of skin struggles. i love you!