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

how kayla handles stress

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kayla joined the skinsalvation team in january 2016, after a whole lifetime of battling acne. she found her calling and has been able to combine her love of self-care and acne-awareness taking care of her clients here, and not only creates but prioritizes time in her life for her other loves – art, her dogs and her partner!  clients love  her straightforward approach, quick (and as painless as possible) treatments, and as she’s been through the acne journey herself, embodies everything she preaches. she’s also an artist of all mediums, and is an astrology lover!
stress can be an all-consuming monster that convinces us that we’re the problem. i can look back on my acne journey and now see that i was chronically stressed out, even though at the time i thought it was normal and i was totally fine. i thought this was how hard life had to be and i was being weak if i felt overwhelmed.
i believe this is a huge issue right now in society, especially in the bay area. we have become conditioned to be work horses and spread ourselves too thin, and call it “life”. then there becomes a common notion that we have no control over our day, our sleep schedule, the food we eat, or the stress we bear.
everything changed for me when i started to prioritize my self-care. my favorite saying is, you cannot pour from an empty cup. we must put our health and wellness first in order to thrive, not just survive. setting boundaries and rituals for yourself is the first step. taking control back is the next.
this is how i take control:
– sleep: i always guard my sleep hours with my life. i will get 9 hours of sleep every night and nothing and no one is going to interfere with that.
 breaks: every day, i honor my lunch breaks instead of working through them. i read, go for a walk, etc. it is my legal, unpaid, uninterrupted break and i ensure that i treat it that way.
 bedtime rituals: each night i stay away from screens (phone, tv, computer) 2 hours before bedtime and i do my nightly ritual (shower, burn sage or palo santo, and read a paperback book). doing the same thing each night trains my body know when it time to go to sleep.
– slow down: i used to try to fit too many things into my schedule; appointments, dates, trips, etc.. i realized that this causes me serious stress and tardiness. so i try to be realistic with my self.
will i REALLY be able to run that errand before work? 
will i REALLY want to land at the airport at 11pm and work the next morning? 
will i really want to go to the dentist at 8am after working the night before and then to yoga and then to lunch with jenni? 
can i really get off work at 7:30 and be at the airport by 8:30?
i used to say YES to all of these. i was trying to do way too much. the simple solution was just to slow down and give myself more downtime by planning for more downtime.
– wellness days: I plan for 1 day each week to meal prep, clean, binge watch netflix, and sleep-in. the meal prepping is especially important because this relieves me of the stress of having to find acne-safe meals last minute. the cleaning, binging, alone time, and sleeping-in just make me happy. (and go along with that whole “planning for downtime” bit.)
 being early: as for the tardiness, now I always give myself plenty of time to get to work (or appointments, flights, etc.) so i don’t start my day already stressed out. once again, i’m just realistic with myself. technically i could leave at 9:48 and be there by 10, but if I just leave at 9:30, I can enjoy the ride and be there early, have a snack, walk slow, and just overall feel more prepared. and less stressed 😉
it also helps not to plan too many things back to back. i can definitely try to squeeze a yoga class & hair appointment in my day and still be on time for my dad’s birthday dinner, but that leaves no room for error or traffic, and the slightest thing that can make me late to everything. so instead, i’ll just do yoga and give myself a few hours of downtime (there’s that word again).
– emotional therapy: when dealing with emotional stress, i have always found art to be very calming and meditative. so i try to make time to draw, paint, sing, take photos, etc. to keep my spirit alive and well-nourished. this has helped me reconnect with my self-expression and significantly decrease my stress.
to summarize, i take it easy on myself and give myself plenty of time to enjoy life 🙂
-kayla, esthetician

how blake handles stress

blake is one of the handful of clients we’ve had over the years that loved their experience clearing up with us so much that they’ve decided to work for us! originally from idaho and raised in san diego, she now lives with her husband in our neck of the woods. we always loved her straight-forward, get-it-done attitude, along with her compliance to the acne-safe lifestyle. she’s literally, a poster-child (woman!) for skinSALVATION!  in recent months, i’ve loved getting to know and working with her – we both have a penchant for the satisfying feeling we get after organizing and cleaning things, areas, rooms, refrigerators.. a skill that really comes in handy as the main woman behind our front office. – kim

while stress affects us all, it is important to recognize how you can individually manage your own. here are a few ways i cope with stress in the evening, after getting home from work or an otherwise busy day.

i usually start completing my sS skincare regimen at least 45 mins before i plan to sleep. this sets the tone for the evening since my regimen is extremely therapeutic for myself. i then make a warm cup of this.

this tea helps to calm and regulate digestion, which is such a nice two-in-one 😉 i then retreat to my bedroom and snuggle into a blanket. a huge contributing factor to my nightly routine is music! spotify is a great tool for finding relaxing stations or some good ‘ole frank sinatra.

after i’ve done this, i find it extremely helpful to pack away my phone and laptop, playing the music in my living room and leaving my door cracked. for the past year, i have created a “no-tech zone” in the bedroom. restricting all electronics to outside my bedroom creates the atmosphere for sleep and relaxation only, allowing your body to know it’s time to rest and avoid that harmful blue light!

finally, i slowly drift off after reading a paperback book.

-blake, front of house

how allyson handles stress

me taking a meditation break during my jam-packed 10 hour day at sS, prioritizing small stress reducing activities like meditation on busy days ensure i stay calm, energized and productive. 

dr. wayne dyer, a self-development coach and author of over 40 books says that “there is no such thing as stress, there are only people thinking stressful thoughts”. this is a powerful concept to reflect on, especially as extremely hard-working, urbanites, grinding to stay on top of extremely competitive industries, and pay our insanely high bay area rents. as an individual who is quite sensitive to even the most mundane stressors such as my daily commute on bart, this was something i had already been working on adjusting in my life, but hadn’t seen my stress so clear, until i read wayne’s words. i often speak to clients about how my meditation practice has transformed my lifestyle, and continues to bring me to a place of peace, urging people to start a practice themselves.

stress being such a huge factor in the acne-game, especially with those painful, deep inflamed lesions, it is important that our clients are doing all that they can to manage and minimize stress. this is where us estheticians come in at sS, acting as cheerleaders for our clients, often pulling from our personal resources, to inspire and motivate the life-changing art of stress management! while i am a huge advocate for self-care and that manifests in my life in various ways, meditation and positive affirmations have become one of the most important tools for taking control of stressful thoughts, feelings, and all of the manifestations that come from stress in my body (poor digestion, bad sleep, bad food choices, angry pimples).

one of the most common things i hear from clients when i suggest they begin a regular meditation practice, is “it’s too hard”, “i won’t be able to turn my mind off”. for beginners, meditation can seem like an impossibly daunting task. most call to mind a time of complete stillness where the goal is to eliminate all mental activity, instantaneously reaching a place of calm, still “nirvana”. i’d like to take this time to clear up this misconception about meditation, in hopes that it will remove some of the fear around starting a practice. personally my practice is all over the place, and that really depends on what i’m working with that day, week, month. some days when i sit and meditate, i really am able to focus my mind inward to a single point, such as my breath, how my body is feeling, or the point of contact with myself and whatever object is supporting me (my chair, bed, the floor). i feel euphoric and an overwhelming sense of joy, stillness, connectedness, and i can spread this energy throughout that day. other days i am unable to focus, i fidget, or can’t find my center. this is completely ok, because meditation for me is not about not thinking, or judging the process of meditation – meditation teaches you to be ok, to find an ease, or a compassion for all moments: both the peaceful and the difficult ones. this is why it is so impactful, because it can decrease that tension and judgement around not- so- pleasant moments of stress in our life. we can learn to be at ease with an extremely packed schedule, or a difficult coworker.

hopefully you are now inspired to combat some of your stress with the wonderful tradition of meditation, so here are some of my favorite resources, apps, meditation spaces, books, and teachers!

meditation apps:

  • calm calm is an awesome meditation app that also includes stress management tactics, adult bedtime stores, walking meditations (great place to start meditation if you are concerned about sitting still) as well as uber relaxing nature sounds, that can be a great touch on a jam-packed day at the office, nothing like hearing the flickering of a fire to instill a little inner peace! i recommend popping on an adult bedtime story if you have issues winding down at night, a much better alternative to popping on a tv show.
  • headspace seems to be a great app for those scientific types, who are looking to increase synaptic connections, focus, productivity, and calm their nervous systems. for those of you who really like evidence-based practices, headspace seems to provide that, as well as amazing guided visualizations, and walking meditation.
  • simple habit was made specifically for busy-on-the go types, and has some very short but sweet meditations, also includes longer meditations for when you get the hang of it, a personal favorite, is the commuting meditation.
  • insight timer is basically an enormous library and meditation community, tons of great guided meditations, sound healing, and binuaral beats!
  • youtube is another great resource for finding guided meditations, inspirational talks, by amazing guru’s like louise hay, gabby bernstein, or jack kornfield.

meditation spaces in sf bay area: amazing communities if you want to learn more about meditation, and sit with a community!

other resources:

being in balance– quick, easy read, that helps you to evaluate your thoughts and how they are impacting your life, i.e are my negative, stress-filled thoughts creating more stress in my life, or am i thinking positive, empowering thoughts that will ultimately lead to more happiness and less worry?

the universe has your back – another great, empowering read that changed my life personally and helped me realize how powerful my thoughts can be, both positive and negative!

10% happier– great, comical read for those cynics, a meditation  memoir written by a very high-profile business type about getting his life and stress together with meditation, check this out if meditation and self-help/new-age healing makes you cringe a bit, he also just came out with an app, 10% happier, subtitled “meditation for fidgety skeptics”.

when to meditate

  • first thing in the morning before i get out of bed is my personal favorite time to meditate, it really helps to set the tone of my day, and squash those early morning anxieties around what the upcoming day will bring. by starting my day with even a 5 minute meditation, i can begin centered, in control of my thoughts, fears, anxieties, practice gratitude, which will ultimately lead to more happiness and productivity.
  • setting an alarm to meditate at some point during your very busy work day is an amazing way to practice stress management. the mind is extremely clever, so just practicing meditation in your office space will increase positive warm thoughts that you will soon come to associate with your meditation space/office!
  • on your daily commute! this is a perfect time to meditate, instead of spending your bart or bus ride scrolling on the ‘gram, give one of the earlier mentioned apps a try next time, this can reduce commute-related stress (see also our amazing blog sS tips for a better commute).

how emily handles stress

emily is a long-time client of sS, turned front desk associate and now, esthetician in training! she’s gone through quite a few growth spurts this year (changed careers, got licensed as an esthetician, started 2 new jobs – reception and esthetics at skinSALVATION, and got married!) and thus, has had her fair share of busy- and sometimes stressful times. it’s been years since i’ve tried to coax her to joining sS, and we are super lucky + happy to have her as part of our team! -kim

if i don’t put a real effort into managing stress, my default mode is to be a stress case. i put a lot of effort into managing it so that i can be the best version of myself, for myself and the people i love and interact with everyday. here’s a glimpse into my stress management toolbox:

meditation is the cornerstone of my approach to handling stress. i especially like body scan meditations to get me back in my body/reality. you can search “body scan meditation” on youtube and find a plethora. i also like this one for when i really need a reset and a reminder that everything is ok. if i don’t even have five minutes to spare, i follow the steps below. i got this technique from here.

  1. get comfortable. adjust your posture (whether sitting, standing, laying down) so that you are in the most comfortable position possible
  2. do a quick scan from head to toe, relaxing each muscle as you move down from head to toe. you can imagine a warm golden glow moving down your body if that helps. this can be done in as little as 5 seconds if you are in a rush, but ideally it would take about 30 seconds-1 minute
  3. smile inwardly and remind yourself that holding onto stress and resentments is silly
  4. take 4 slow, deep breaths and feel the relaxation moving down your body with each out breath. slowly open your eyes after the fourth breath

if other people are stressing me out and i find myself easily annoyed, i try to do a quick spot check inventory to put a stop to the downward spiral of resentments. i’ve included some questions that really help put a hex on unhealthy thoughts – but just a warning, they aren’t always fun to answer. give them a shot next time you’re feeling super stressed at a person or circumstance, i promise it will at minimum change your perspective on the situation.

  • why am I angry?
  • what are my expectations?
  • what am I failing to accept? (accepting opinions of others doesn’t mean I agree with them)
  • do I need to be right instead of happy?
  • what have I done in the past to set this ball rolling? (trains of circumstances)
  • am I being loving and tolerant?
  • where have I been selfish or inconsiderate?
  • where have I been dishonest?
  • where have I been self-seeking?
  • where have I been frightened?
  • where was I to blame?
  • what should I have done instead?

basic miscellaneous tips:

  1. i try not to let myself get too hungry because when my blood sugar gets low my mood gets crazy. eating breakfast helps me avoid getting too hungry throughout the day. if you’re like me and don’t always feel hungry in the morning, i have found that smoothies and oatmeal are an easy way to get some calories quick, and i can drink/eat them fast on my way out the door. 
  2. having two dogs forces me to focus on something other than myself. i start out each day walking my dogs for at least twenty minutes. i get fresh air, exercise, and connection to my community just by walking around the ‘hood. it helps me more than my pups even know!
  3. to get settled at night i drink this and this, plus take 3 of these. i try to stay off my phone and not watch anything too scary on tv before bed so that i don’t get all riled up.