A few months ago I wrote a post about living with Deramatillomania and how much picking my skin on a daily basis deeply impacts my life. I was overwhelmed not only by the support I received but the amount of beauty bloggers, vloggers, friends and associates alike who all reached out to tell me that they too suffered.
Skin Picking Disorder, also known as Excoriation Disorder or Dermatillomania is a psychological condition where a sufferer is unable to stop themselves carrying out a particular action.
For those who suffer, or know someone who does – the obsession to perfect the skin by picking, tweeking, stabbing and god knows whatever else is a seriously debilitating issue and often leaves the skin vulnerable to secondary problems such as infection, wounds, or permanent scarring.
So here we are, faced with not only the inability to stop ourselves from picking, but the opportunities to clear our skin via healthy skincare routines. I usually find myself getting stuck in two vicious cycles. Pick, bleed, leave well alone (total neglect) Or Pick, bleed, clean, clear with professional products, obsess over products and skin, spend hours in front of the mirror trying to heal the wound with cotton buds, pads and alcohol based products.
As leaving my house, attending social events or socialising at all is so limited for me at the moment due to my anxiety issues, I often just spend hours, if not days, picking and destroying my skin. Sometimes aware, most times in a trance. This means, the only chance I have of breaking the cycle of picking is when I have a date in the calendar by which I will use as a goal to not pick my skin and/or adapt a healing skin care routine.
At the moment, my goal is the Kingston Business Awards which falls in a few weeks. My weight, looks and hair are nowhere near where I need them to be and I’m trying to keep the anxiety of knowing there will be press at bay (no idea how I’ll cope with that trigger free) but, I need to be there to get Mental Movement on the map in the area so – nothing will stop me. Not even my skin.
Recovery is hard when it comes to Dermatillomania – and to be clear – I’m not skin specialist, dermatologist or esthetician. But I have my lived experience and from the hundreds if not thousands of products I have tried and tested, I wanted to share with you what works for me best in the hope to help you find something that may aid you in your recovery/skin care routine. I hope some of my tips along the way will aid in your healing, reduce your triggers and help you find a good skin care balance you truly deserve.
Clean your make-up brushes
I either find this wildly therapeutic or just really inconveniently time consuming and boring. It honestly depends what mood I’m in. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a complete must! Your makeup brushes carry excess makeup, oil, dirt, and bacteria off of your contour and foundation and honestly the thought of that alone makes me a bit sick. To clean my brushes, I first wet them thoroughly with water and rub them onto a bar of antibacterial soap (I use Dettol’s antibacterial original soap). Once you’ve gone at it for a hot minute, wash them through with warm water and start adding Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. Wash thoroughly. If you want to be extra like me, add a couple of Tea Tree Oil drops. Rub it through for extra antiseptic benefits and squeeze excess out. Place on a clean dry towel to dry (on top of a warm radiator speeds process up).
Flannel for the Face
Buy a couple of these from IKEA. You can buy a pack of 4 for £1.20. White face cloths are gross to look at once you’ve used them, but this is kind of the point. As soon as you’ve used it – put it out for washing. You’ll need like 14 to ensure you have two fresh ones for each day but this really does help to keep up with a good skin care routine.
Create a First Aid Kit for Skin Picking
Here’s what you’ll need to make a first aid kit for your emergency skin picking situations.
- A small, easy to take around pouch or mini makeup bag.
- Antiseptic wipes or small pack of wet ones/baby wipes.
- Hand sanitiser. Our hands and nails are never clean no matter how clean you think they are. Avoid infection by using this.
- A really nice Handcream. It’s harder to pick with Handcream on your hands and the cream will likely mess up your makeup if you are wearing any.
- Plasters – protect a freshly picked area or wrap around your nails to make it less satisfactory.
- Nail polish remover wipes. Some people pick if they have chipped nail polish. Remove chipped nail polish to avoid picking at cuticles.
- Nail clippers and nail files to cut your nails down and make it harder to pick.
- Snack. Protein bar, breakfast bar, bounce ball (my fav) if you are hungry, you are more likely to pick.
- Friendly reminder: leave a nice note to yourself telling you to get your nails done. I always have acrylics or gel nails to make it harder to pick. It’s great time for you, self-care and can really help.
- Bio oil. Because. This is an absolute dream for soothing skin and helps decrease scars over time.
Use fresh pillow cases where you can. When we sleep, the dirt, conditioner or treatments used in our hair seep onto our pillow which then end up rubbing on our face. Nice. You don’t have to do this all the time but be mindful of how long your pillow case hasn’t been washed. At the very least, flip your pillow over to a fresh side and have a couple of spares by your bed for major picking outbreaks.
Dettol for Infection
For freshly picked, often bleeding skin – I run to the bathroom to pour Dettol on a cotton pad and dab it into my skin. It does burn a little and can be a bit uncomfortable but it’s better than getting an infection. Once you’ve done this, dab your face gently and give it a bit of air for 5 minutes. Use a non fragranced cream to soothe after and light an inscence stick to promote calm and good energy for your healing.
Night Skin Regime
Adopt a new night time skin care routine. Our skin is constantly changing and what might have worked six months ago, might not be working for you now. Always try new products and speak to the people behind Murad or Kiehl’s counters for their advice. My favourite products to treat my skin are Cleanse|Tone, Treat|Repair and Hydrate|Protect by Murad. The cleanse and tone is so soothing. It has a lovely minty cucumber scent which only adds to its refreshing feeling. Double cleansing is so easy with this as it is SO nice but I wouldn’t recommend if you are allergic to fragrance. Murad have an incredible range and are honestly the best so, invest in your skin.
Honestly, this is dream stuff. I always used to hear people raving about it and never took it seriously, until one day – I tried it. I’ve never looked back. This is the perfect stuff for skin self care. I use it all the time. It helps to heal scars from picked skin on my face and improves the quality of my skin like nothing else. You can put a bit on freshly picked skin, before bed, in the morning or even use it to mix your creme contours like I do. Honestly, this is a number 1 must have for your skin. Although notoriously expensive, you can pick up a small bottle in Primark for around £7 or at your local Savers for under £12 (the bigger bottle). Also available via Amazon, here.
Another favourite of mine, especially for skin hydrating, Aveeno cream with Oatmeal. Sometimes my skin picking completely dries out my face to the point that it’s gagging for moisture. This has that covered. I use this before bed and don’t find it suitable to moisturise with before putting on makeup as it gathers into a weird rubbery film that starts to shed. Yeh. Not pretty. Don’t use this with makeup. Before bed or on your non-makeup days are fine. This is one of the only creams that heals my skin quickly too. If I can hold off picking for two days straight, using this cream – I’m often scab free by the third day. It may be different for you – but its worth a try.
This is an overnight mask. And it’s incredible. What a way to treat your skin. It’s not cheap but it’s worth it. More than anything, this product is there to remind you that you are worth it. Take the time to love your face and all of its perceived flaws. You are beautiful. Apply the lotion onto your face and leave for 10 minutes. Dab excess away leaving a thin layer. Do not wash off. Sleep with this on your face and in the morning clean it off with your favourite cleanser. Kiel’s products are worth a try, especially if you are looking for dermatologist-recommended skincare.
- Helps to instantly to boost skin’s ability and hold moisture for long-lasting hydration
- Formulated with squalane, glycerin, fountain plant and fragmented hyaluronic acid
- Suitable for all skin types
With all of the above, I recognise how costly and stressful it can be trying and testing new products, each time coupled with that overwhelming faith that ‘this will solve everything’. I like to invest in those moments because they really do give me a boost, but I cannot stress this enough, you do not have to spend the earth to care for your skin. I’d love to know about what you use for your skin and I’d like to create a small e-book to help those suffering. If you’d like your tips or helpful pointers included. Please email me with your details and the advice you have to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header ‘Skin Picking Advice’. For now, please tag us in your fave skincare products on Instagram @mentalmovementmagazine X