The Ingredient Chronicles: Benzoyl Peroxide

Chances are, if you’ve ever tried an acne treatment product, you’ve used something with the active ingredient benzoyl peroxide.acne ingredient benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an active ingredient used in many prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments. It kills p. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. By killing the bacteria, you eliminate a major cause of frequent breakouts. Some experts classify benzoyl peroxide as a topical antibiotic, but many dermatologists use benzoyl peroxide to help enhance the performance of other topical antibiotics like clindamycin and erythromycin. Because benzoyl peroxide is primarily used to kill bacteria, it is most effective on inflammatory acne.

Although we don’t fully understand the mechanisms of how benzoyl peroxide works, we do know that it seems to kill bacteria by adding oxygen to the skin. When benzoyl peroxide is applied to the skin, it breaks down into two parts- oxygen and benzoic acid. Since the p.acnes bacteria thrives in an oxygen free environment, adding oxygen to the skin essentially kills off the bacteria.

I’ve heard many people complain that benzoyl peroxide seems to stop working. I used to think that you could develop a resistance to benzoyl peroxide, as consistent use would eventually cause more resistant bacteria (think: MRSA and other super bugs). But while researching this article, I’ve learned that, while there is concern about resistant p. acnes bacteria, benzoyl peroxide appears to be the solution, rather than the cause. Many researchers feel that the resistance comes from ingredients like clindamycin and erythromycin, and that benzoyl peroxide lessens that likelihood.

Benzoyl peroxide has some other functions that can be helpful for acne control. It also works as an exfoliant, helping to unclog pores and reduce the appearance of blackheads. I feel that benzoyl peroxide is not as effective at unclogging the pores as salicylic acid, so if you have a lot of blackheads, you may want to introduce that ingredient into your routine.

Benzoyl peroxide comes in all forms. You can find it in cleansers, spot treatments, moisturizers, and serums. If you’re using a wash, you can leave the cleanser on your skin for a few minutes as a mask. If using a serum, it can be applied all over the skin or just on spots. You can even just treat the areas of the face that break out the most often. You can find it in strengths from 2.5% to 10%, though many studies have shown that higher percentages are no more effective than lower ones, but higher percentages often cause more adverse reactions, such as redness, flaking, and dryness.

Though this ingredient can be very effective, like many ingredients, benzoyl peroxide has its downside. I find that many of my clients react adversely to benzoyl peroxide, more so than other common acne treatments. I’ve even found that people can use benzoyl peroxide for years before suddenly developing adverse reactions. Because of this, I like to recommend that you limit your usage as much as possible. If you have been using it twice daily, try cutting your usage down to once a day once your skin starts to clear. If you remain breakout free, try going to every other day. Eventually, you may be able to stop using benzoyl peroxide entirely. Or you find that you need to stay on a routine that uses benzoyl peroxide just a few times a week.

It’s also important to remember that benzoyl peroxide includes…peroxide. This means that it will bleach clothing, sheets, and towels. It is one of the biggest complaints about benzoyl peroxide, but it’s also the easiest to fix. You can get some cheap white pillow cases or towels to use. If you’re applying it to the body, apply it at night and wear inexpensive white tee shirts to sleep. Also keep in mind that if you’ve tinted your brows or lashes, benzoyl peroxide may cause the tinting to fade faster.

If you’ve been using benzoyl peroxide and you’re suffering from adverse reactions, I have a few ideas. First, try using a lower percentage. Research shows that lower percentages are just as effective as higher ones and equally effective. Less isn’t always more when it comes to skin, so don’t worry about backing off a little. Next, try using the benzoyl peroxide less frequently. If you’re using it twice a day, try once. Once a day, try every other day. If cutting the number of applications down doesn’t work, try a light weight, oil free moisturizer underneath your benzoyl peroxide product. Finally, if these tips don’t work, try something that stays on the skin for a shorter period of time, like a wash just a few times a week. You’ll still get the bacteria eliminating benefits without as much irritation.

A final thought to keep in mind. Benzoyl peroxide and retinol don’t mix. If you’d like to use both ingredients, make sure that you use one in the morning and one at night. It will help to minimize irritation, as well as maintaining the integrity of the individual ingredients.

 

 

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The Ingredient Chronicles: Retinol

retinol skin care ingredientOne of the ingredients I love in my personal routine is retinol. It is always present. I recommend it for many different skin concerns. Let’s take a deeper look and see what it does.

Retinol and Retin-A, or the class of ingredients called retinoids or retinoic acid, are Vitamin A derivatives. These ingredients work primarily as exfoliants. They are special because they exfoliate the surface of the skin as well as the interior of the pore, unlike salicylic acid, which works just in the pore or glycolic, which works mostly on the surface. Because of the way they exfoliate, they are especially good at getting rid of deep clogs and textural acne.

Retinol is the over-the-counter version of retinoic acid. Retin-A is the prescription form of retinoic acid. However, don’t take this to mean that Retin-A is better than retinol. Some skin types may find that they can tolerate the lower doses in an OTC retinol product.

Retinoids have many benefits aside from just their amazing pore-cleaning abilities. Retinoids are the only FDA-approved anti-aging ingredient. It was being studied for acne prevention when people started noticing that their wrinkles were going away. When you have damage to the skin, the skin responds by creating scar tissue. Scar tissue is essentially collagen that has grown back irregularly, like you see in wrinkles or in acne scars. Healthy collagen is spiraled like a slinky, and it lines up in straight lines. Damaged collagen has grown back over- or under-spiraled, and it starts to bundle together and collapse on itself. Retinoids work on these irregularities by breaking down the damaged collagen and encouraging the growth of healthy, properly spiraled, perfectly aligned collagen. So retinoids are great for decreasing the depth of wrinkle and repairing acne scars.

Retinoids also help to control melanin production, which makes them great to repair the uneven pigmentation that many people see after years in the sun. For acne sufferers, especially those with deeper complexions (think: olive skin tones and deeper), it can fade the marks that remain long after blemishes have healed.

But here come the cautions. Retin-A is aggressive. Many people experience flaking, redness, and sensitivities while they are using it. Retinol (the OTC version) may be easier to tolerate for these skin types. It takes longer to see results than the prescription strength products, but avoiding the adverse side effects may be worth it.  Retinoids are also contraindicated for waxing, since it sensitizes and may cause lifting of the skin (read: a big patch of no skin… not the brow look you were going for!) Retinoids are absolutely contraindicated for pregnancy.

Retinol should always be used as part of your nighttime routine. It can cause photosensitivity, so you need to be diligent about applying a sunscreen every day (even if you get minimal sun exposure). Dermatologists usually recommend using the product every day, but more sensitive types might not tolerate that much. Stop using your retinoids if you’re going on a big beach vacation or if you’re planning on getting or have just gotten a deep chemical peel.

I really believe that everyone can find a retinoid that works for them, but you may need to try some variations to your routine or the way you use the product to minimize the adverse side effects. Here are some tips for dealing with the irritation that retinoids may sometimes cause.

  • Try using it less frequently. Try it twice a week, and slowly work your way up to more frequent usage. Once you start to see the results you want, you may want to dial your usage back again.
  • Apply a light moisturizer before the prescription. The moisturizer will act as a buffer between your skin and the prescription, slowing down the absorption. That can actually make a huge difference in the level of irritation.
  • Use a gentle enzyme mask to dissolve away the flakiness. This will help you control your urge to pick and keep your skin hydrated and smooth.
  • Try a soothing hydrating mask. Dry skin types can definitely use this help. Even acne prone skin types need this boost. Masking more frequently can help to give your skin that extra hydration and soothing that it needs.

Retinol and Retin-A are my hero ingredients. You can’t beat the multiple benefits that you get from one product. But it is an ingredient where less is definitely more, so find the balance your skin needs.

 

 

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Get Your Skin Summer Ready

The rest of the country may have been experiencing summer for a few weeks now, but New York City is officially in the middle of a heat wave. Depending on your skin type, your skin may thrive in the summer, or it may get your skin summer ready turn into a big mess.

Typically all skin types, from oily to dry, will start to produce more oil. The heat and humidity makes us sweatier and, before you realize it, you may be breaking out more than normal. It can also help skin types that are prone to conditions like eczema and psoriasis minimize outbreaks.

Here are some tips to get your skin summer ready.

  • Add a salicylic acid wash. Even drier skin types can benefit from a salicylic acid wash a couple of times a week to help control the excess sweat and oil. If you’re normally a dry skin type, try a salicylic acid wash two to three times a week. Oilier skin types may benefit from daily usage. Most salicylic acid washes are found with a 2% concentration normally, so adjust your usage if you’ve found something stronger.
  • Lighten up those textures. Dry winter skin and harsh climates beg for creamy, rich textures. Summer calls for lighter lotions. Heavy creams combined with extra oil production creates the perfect storm for breakouts. Put your creams aside and look for lightweight or oil-free lotions. You may even like a little oil control this time of year.
  • Try an acne treatment. If the summer heat has you breaking out a couple times a week, it may be time to try an acne-control serum. Your skin may just need that extra control. Look for something with a blend of acids, alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic and beta hydroxy acids like salicylic. Daily usage under a moisturizer will keep your skin clearer.
  • Amp up your SPF. Warm weather sends people outside, whether it’s beach vacations, spending weekends on the lake, or even just dining outside more often. Make sure you’ve got your skin protected when you’re outside by upping your SPF protection. I like to keep mineral powders in my bag for touch-ups if I end up outside, so I can reapply my SPF without messing up my makeup (and getting a little extra shine control). I also recommend swapping your morning moisturizer with SPF to a dedicated sunscreen. I like the lighter combination of a hydrating serum and a sunscreen in the summer and find it’s just enough for even my dry skin.
  • Get a pro peel. I’m a huge fan of peels, and I believe that they are worth the extra investment in a facial. Super oily skin and acne-prone types may benefit from a salicylic acid peel a couple of times in the summer for added oil and acne control. Drier types can still benefit; peels remove excess dead skin cells and help keep pores clear. The caveat? Make sure to wear your SPF and don’t plan to peel right before or after a beach vacation.

 

 

Speak your mind! How do you tweak your skin care routine for the summer? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

The Skin Care Puzzle

skin care puzzleMy job in life is to help people with their skin. Usually this means I’m helping them with a skin care problem. No matter where I am, at the spa or at the bar, I can’t stop until I’ve figured it out. Once someone’s given me a problem to solve, I start collecting information.

People are sometimes surprised at the number of questions I ask, and even what kind of information I’m looking for. But, like a detective, I am piecing together a puzzle. And everything you tell me is another piece of the puzzle. If I can gather enough pieces, I can see the whole picture.

So what kind of information do I need to figure out how your puzzle pieces fit together? I look at all kinds of details. I want to know what you’re currently using, from your cleanser to your prescriptions. Even oral prescriptions for conditions unrelated to the skin can affect how your skin behaves.

I especially need to know about what kind of exfoliants you’re using at home, and how often. Exfoliation is the puzzle piece that is often difficult to get just right. Not exfoliating often enough leads to dull skin, clogged pores, and flakiness. Exfoliating too often can lead to redness, irritation, and more flakiness.

I also want to know about your diet. What you eat or don’t eat can absolutely affect your skin. I’ve noticed that people on low-fat diets can be very dry. Your dairy intake can also affect your acne. If your stress levels lead you to eat lots of sweets, your skin ca be affected. Or you may simply eat fewer healthy foods, also affecting your skin.

Given this huge list of variables, it’s often hard to tell if a product is working well for you. If you are using an anti-acne regimen, but your stress levels are causing you to break out, you will still break out. We might be able to control them more, and diminish the frequency or the severity. Maybe your acne serum will work if it’s partnered with a different cleanser. It can be hit-or-miss to find just the right combo, but the more pieces of the puzzle we have, the faster we can put it together.

People look at skin care products as the end all, when in actuality, it’s only one piece of a very large puzzle. [Tweet this!] All the pieces must fit together to get you beautiful, glowing skin.

 

 

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The Truth About Picking

skin pickingI am a recovering skin picker. My “joke” is that I went to esthetics school because I ran out of stuff to pick out of my own skin. I relapse occasionally, like I did last week when I improperly picked a blackhead and turned it into a nasty mark on my chin. When my acne was at its peak, I struggled not to pick. And I still get frustrated when I get a spot that I can’t seem to let go of.

Skin picking, or dermatillomania, the clinical name for extreme skin picking, can be a serious problem for many people. It can be an annoying problem for even more people. It’s easy to beat yourself up when you succumb to picking. I know from my own personal experience and the experiences of my clients that many people struggle to stop picking their skin.

Picking is more than just wanting to pop a pimple. It can be rooted in causes such as anxiety, depression, stress, boredom, and even anger. Picking a spot can feel like a release, a stress relief, and a feeling of satisfaction. It may give you a temporary high.

I’ve managed to (mostly) conquer my picking with soul-searching, tough love, and some serious skin care. Here’s what I can share about what’s helped me control my picking.

  • Get to the issue behind the picking. When you catch yourself, try to stop and ask yourself what’s really going on. What’s causing you to obsess over this spot? Is it textural? Are you bored? Are you stressed? Are you angry? Just being aware that something else is going on can be a huge help to decoding this habit. As you start to figure out the emotions under your picking, you’ll be able to come up with healthier alternatives.
  • Invest in some solid skin care. The fastest way to stop picking is to stop having stuff to pick. Ultimately, I didn’t conquer my picking habit as much as I conquered my acne. I found that investing in products that worked for me gave me a feeling of control so that I didn’t feel so helpless. And not having the bumps simply removed the temptation.
  • Pick in a healthy way. If I have that bump that’s screaming at me, I make sure to go through my proper picking protocol. Investing my picking time in a method that won’t cause scarring still gives me the satisfaction of doing something about my blemishes, and keeps my mind off further digging.
  • Reward yourself for not picking. Investing in a facial can be a reward for not picking, as well as a deterrent to further picking.  It encourages you to keep your hands off your own pores, as you are spending money to have someone else handle the problem. It also relieves the stress of having that feeling that something is stuck in your skin and needs to be removed.

These tips are not intended to replace the advice of a licensed professional. If you suffer from extreme picking, dermatillomania, trichotillomania, or any other compulsions, help is available. Please reach out if you need help.

 

 

I make a conscious effort to control my picking. Do you struggle? What works for you to stop? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

What Kind of Acne Do You Have?

Do you have acne? I was traumatized when I was diagnosed with acne in college; it felt like the end of the world. I didn’t think my skin was “bad enough” to be called acne, yet there I was in the dermatologist’s office complaining of breakouts I couldn’t control. Now that I work in skin care, I simply see the word as a way to define how often someone breaks out. If you’re breaking out several times a month, or you have more than a couple of breakouts at a time, I consider that acne.

But do you know that there are kinds of acne that don’t break out? The tricky part about acne comes in when someone isn’t having breakouts, but they have what I call textural acne, or bumpy acne. Often, these little bumps don’t come to a head and pop, the way a normal pimple might. Nevertheless, I still consider this acne, even if my client doesn’t.

Let’s look at the kinds of acne that you can get.

Pustular Acne  acne

This is the more inflammatory, infected acne. This acne will generally come up as a localized bump and turn red. It will eventually develop a white head, pop, and then start to heal. This kind of acne is generally cause by a bacterial infection in the skin, and is treated with topical antibiotics.

 

acneTextural Acne

This acne you can feel. Some bumps may be large enough to see. The bumps are either milia, or bumps that are under the surface and don’t go anywhere, or blackheads. Textural acne needs to be addressed because it is often a precursor to pustular acne. It is best treated with retinol.

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is the one that hurts. These bumps show up under the skin. They can cause soreness and will often hang around for a long period of time, sometimes even weeks. They often don’t come to a head. Do not try to pop these! Chronic cystic acne will probably require a trip to see the dermatologist, as the infection is deeper than just the surface of the skin.

A Combination of Several Kinds

Most people with severe acne have both textural and pustular acne happening at the same time. The problem is that bumpy acne can become pustular acne easily, since bumpy acne is a prime environment for bacteria, which will inevitably become a pimple.

Each form of acne needs to be treated in a specific way. Pustular acne needs to be treated in a way that kills bacteria, usually with benzoyl peroxide or clindamycin. Textural acne generally requires something to unclog pores, like salicylic acid or retinol. Cystic acne is very difficult to treat topically, but you may find relief if you apply ice to reduce inflammation and numb soreness.

I like to focus my treatment efforts on textural acne first. This takes longer and requires more patience, but if you can unclog the skin, you ultimately will prevent pustular acne by eliminating the environment that produces the pustular acne in the first place.

It’s hard to treat multiple kinds of acne at once, unless your skin is super durable or oily. Acne treatments can be incredibly drying, and using a combination of several products can lead to inflammation, flakiness, and irritation. You may find that juggling your acne treatments with a gentle cleanser and moisturizer provides enough balance. Or maybe you’ll need to use one treatment on one day and another on another day. You’ll need to find the balance that is right for you. Check with your doctor for options if you’re using prescriptions and having trouble.

 

 

 

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Why Your Acne Products Aren’t Working

why your acne products stopped workingAcne. Persistent breakouts. It is one of the trickiest things to treat. And everyone claims to have a magic cure. If you’re an acne sufferer, then you’ve probably tried every product out there.

Unfortunately, acne is more than just a physiological issue.  This means that acne is often a problem that is that is deeper than just a case of too much oil, dead skin, and bacteria. Although all acne boils down to this basic issue, many hidden factors can impact why you might be more breakout prone. Sometimes these issues can make it incredibly difficult to find a good solution.

Hormones have a huge influence on your skin, for both men and women. The good news is, men typically grow out of the hormones that cause acne. The bad news for women is that we typically grow into that hormone. Many women are affected by persistent breakouts for the rest of their lives. Hormonal acne is a subject I’ll be exploring in-depth in a future post.

Let’s look at some other reasons why your acne products aren’t working.

  • You’re not consistent with your regimen. This may not necessarily mean using the same products every night, but it may mean rotating consistently. Your skin needs consistency at this point. Maybe you’ve been switching brands, or maybe you don’t use any skin care most of the week.  Stick with one product line for at least three months, if not six. Put into skin terms: your skin cell cycle is at least 30 days. If you use a product for 2 months, that’s only two skin cell cycles. Changing the skin is like steering a barge. It takes time to reverse a course. You can’t do a 180 in a day.
  • You’re not treating your type of acne with the right kind of product to address it. Not all acne is created equal. There are a finite number of ingredients that can fix acne. One kind of acne may respond better to one kind of treatment, while another may respond better to a different ingredient. For example, benzoyl peroxide is best for an inflammatory acne (the bumps come to a head and eventually pop). Retinol is best for non-pustular, bumpy acne (acne that causes texture but doesn’t necessarily become infected).
  • You’re over-treating your acne. If you inadvertently over-treat and dry your skin out, you will make acne worse. Skin that’s been over-treated also has inflammation because it’s irritated. Clogs become drier and more stubborn and won’t come out as easily. The skin is less pliable. Inflamed skin is more likely to contract around the pores, which creates a favorable environment for bacteria to replicate. And boom. More pimples.

Remember that may not be the quality of the product… it may just be that there is a greater issue causing your acne to be more persistent. Make sure to sign up for the newsletter to stay in the loop as I continue to talk about the kinds of acne and ingredients to treat them.

 

 

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Just The FAQs: Do I Have To Wash My Face At Night?

You’ve got a lot on your plate. You’re tired when you get home. You start to unwind and, before you know it, you’re falling asleep and can do i have to wash my face at nightbarely stumble to bed. So starts the great nightly debate: To wash or not to wash?

Here are a few reasons why the answer is a resounding yes, you must wash your face!

  • It prevents break outs. If you wear makeup, you must remove it. Even light powders can trap excess oil and dirt on your skin, creating a favorable environment for bacteria. Washing removes this bacteria and lets you start fresh with clean skin … and avoid future breakouts. And no, makeup removing wipes don’t count. Even they can leave residue on your skin.
  • It prevents aging. Even if you don’t wear makeup, your skin still needs to be cleaned of excess oil, sweat, and pollution. [Tweet this!] Pollution is a big factor here. All those free radicals in the air land on your skin and wreak havoc. Your cells oxide and thus hasten the aging process. Cleansing can neutralize some of these adverse affects.
  • It prepares the skin for your fancy creams and serums. If you’ve invested any money or effort at all into your skin care routine, you want to apply those products to fresh skin. Removing all make up, dirt, and sweat reveals the healthy skin underneath. Applying your products to this skin means that they will absorb better, meaning you’ll get the results you’re looking for.
  • It reminds you to use the aforementioned fancy creams and serums. Skin care doesn’t stop acne or prevent aging if it only sits in a drawer. [Tweet this!] It must be applied to the skin regularly in order to see results. If you remember to start your routine, you’re more likely to finish it. And your future self will thank you for her radiant glow.
  • It helps you sleep better. Research has shown that having a bedtime ritual relaxes you and can yield a better night’s sleep. Train your brain that when you start your skin care routine, you’re getting ready for a peaceful night’s sleep. The habit will help your mind to unwind faster, meaning that you’ll be getting better beauty sleep while your skin repairs.
  • It guarantees you a few quiet minutes to care for yourself. You spend all day taking care of other people. Don’t you deserve five quiet minutes to invest in the future of your skin? [Tweet this!]

No one is perfect. I’ve inadvertently fallen asleep with makeup on before as well. I’ve used makeup removing wipes in a pinch. But I promise that building this habit is worth it. I’ve offered tips on maximizing your skin care time before, so check them out if you haven’t. And check out one of my personal favorite cleansers as well! On days when you’re really not feeling motivated, remind yourself that you are worth the five minutes that it takes to care  for your skin and yourself.

 

 

Speak your mind! Do you wash up every single night? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

Just The FAQs: Will That Make Me Break Out?

can products cause acneThis particular question is always a hot topic. People are always quick to blame their skin care for the problems they’re having. The truth of the matter is, sometimes breakouts just happen. Sometimes it happens at the same time you change your skin care routine. I can’t tell you if something will make you break out without also looking at the rest of your routine and your skin type. I don’t often find that one single product is the only reason.

Acne can be complicated by many things, but it always comes down to three factors: excessive oil, a build up of dead skin cells, and bacteria. There may be underlying causes that influence one of these factors, like diet, hormones, or stress. Knowing this, there are only a few ways that a product can cause acne. I will say that some skin care can affect breakouts, but it is not nearly as common as people think. Here are a few cases where a product can cause acne.

  • Adding excessive oil to the skin. If you are already very oily, and you start using a product that has oils or occlusive ingredients like mineral oil, petrolatum, or even shea butter, you will break out. Because your skin doesn’t need more oil, the occlusives block the pores, therefore leading to more clogs. Add a little bacteria to the party, and you have a breakout.
  • Purging the skin. Whether skin really purges is a point of debate, even among skin care professionals. I believe it happens in very specific instances, and not every time you change your skin care. It might happen if your skin is already clogged and you start using something that contains retinol or salicylic acid. These ingredients break down debris in the pores, and you may experience some breakouts. Ultimately, you are reducing the likelihood a breakouts long-term since you are keeping the pores clear. Short-term, it’s no fun.
  • Causing allergic reactions. Acne is not a common allergic reaction. Most allergic reactions look like itchy red skin, rashy red bumps, or flakiness. Allergic reactions do cause inflammation though, and if you have conditions that are favorable for breakouts, it may make it more likely. Inflammation constricts a clogged pore, creating the anaerobic environment that bacteria thrives in. And voilà! Pimple.

In order to know if something would make you break out, you have to look at your skin care routine as whole, and how often you’re currently breaking out. [Tweet this!] Are you acne-prone, but not well controlled? Most people have a natural tendency to break out. It’s just what the skin likes to do. People tell me that they can only use a certain product or they break out. My reaction to this is that they need to be on an acne control regimen that will keep the pores clear and prevent breakouts long-term, because their skin is naturally prone to clog. I once read a quote from Dr. Dennis Gross, founder of MD Skincare, and he stated that it takes six weeks to form a breakout. If that’s true, then it can’t be the product you started using last week.

Have you ever stopped using a product because you felt it made you break out? After reading this, do you still think it was the product?

 

 

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Proper Picking Procedures

It’s never my first recommendation, but sometimes the temptation to pick a pimple is overwhelming. And I understand… sometimes those guys just scream to be squeezed! I have a list of rules that must be followed how to properly pop a pimpleshould you succumb to the urge to pick.

  • Start with steamed skin. Usually after a shower is best. Steam softens the skin and allows the debris to come out more easily.
  • Use an enzyme mask before. Enzymes also soften the skin, making the extraction process easier. One to try? The Murad Vitalic Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask is a great option.
  • Only pick the most obvious whiteheads, with the infection right at the surface. If you’re going for a blackhead, only go for those that at the surface and opened.
  • Wrap your clean fingers in tissues. Never use your nails. Use gentle pressure. Don’t force it if it doesn’t give immediately. Wait a few days and try again.
  • Cleanse the area and sanitize it with a salicylic acid spot treatment, like Sircuit Skin Fixzit. You can even apply ice for a few minutes to reduce the inflammation.
  • Use a sulfur mask to kill bacteria and help the pores contract. You can even leave it on the spot overnight. One of my all time favorites for this is Peter Thomas Roth Sulfur Cooling Masque. I do this to reduce blemishes when I first notice them too, so I don’t ever get to the point where I have to extract them.
  • Leave it alone. This is the point where not picking becomes very important. If you repeatedly pick at a blemish, you slow down the healing process, and ultimately you can cause long-term scarring.

Ideally, we will never get to the point where something screams at us to be picked. But it happens to all of us, and using these precautions can prevent the long-term collagen damage that occurs when we’ve overpicked. Also remember that sometimes the best way to control your urge to pick is to take one giant step away from the magnifying mirror. [Tweet this!]

 

 

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