A Derm's Best Advice On How To Finally Stop Picking Your Zits — Thank Us Later
If you've had acne at any point in your life (raises hand), you likely know how tempting it is to go to town on your face. With each clogged pore or raised pimple comes the intense desire to start squeezing and prodding.
The thing is, many of us know how bad this habit is: Picking prolongs the life of the wound and can leave a scar or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. How many times have skin care experts espoused the advice to stop popping zits? And just because you know something to be true does not make it easy to follow up with the appropriate actions: Even the best trained among us still succumb to overactive fingers.
Sometimes, we need added measures in place when we start to feel the urge come on. Well, recently, board-certified dermatologist Angelo Landriscina, M.D., shared his advice in a TikTok video.
First, do a check-in.
Turns out, most of us do most of the damage in the evening, as we usually have more time to wind down, spend more time on our skin care routines, and are parked in front of the mirror for longer. "For most people, picking happens at night and in front of a mirror," he says.
So your first step is to identify your triggers: "The most important thing to do is to identify the situations that cause the picking and then avoid them," he says. When you feel the urge to pick, did it bookend a particularly bad day? Or is it leading up to an event you are anxious about? See, skin picking is often (not always) an outward expression of an emotional response. And so if you find that your habit accelerates around different emotional cycles, you at least have a clue of when you're most vulnerable.
Say it with us: Walk away from the mirror.
The best way to make sure you're not tempted is to remove yourself from the situation. "If you pick at night, you need to get out of the bathroom as soon as possible," he says. "Do your skin care, brush your teeth, and get out." If you know that you're feeling a certain way going into your nighttime routine, make a mental note to keep things quick. Often, the best thing we can do for our skin is the bare minimum.
"You can even go as far as figuring out how long it takes for you to do your skin care routine, set a timer on your phone, and make sure you are out of there when that timer is up," he says.
Understanding that sometimes you're not able to hold back your fingers will help you shape your behavior. On days or moments you feel the urge, simply step away from the mirror: Keeping your routine to a minimum will also help you avoid overdoing it with your skin.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.