Week Three: Let’s Try This Again

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I made it seven. If week two was me falling off the picking wagon, week three was me landing in a pile of horse manure under the wagon. I mean, I went at it – and my skin has the lumps and dry, quasi-scabbed marks to prove it. Awesome.

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Can adults have do-overs? Is that a thing? Because that’s what I’m going to need and, since I’m pretty much making the rules up as I go, that’s what I’m going to do. Starting this Thursday, February 1st, I’m going to start over and try this again.

No picking. No exceptions.

Now for motivation, the promise of fancy skin care wasn’t enough to keep me clean (pun intended) – although I did try and really like the Rodan and Fields scrub my sister generously hooked me up with – so I’m going to need to aim for something else. V and I have some great plans later in the month, so having clearer skin in time for those events is going to be my motivation. After all, selfies are significantly easier to take if you don’t have to hide the lower half of your face.

Until next time, wish me luck…

Week Two: Epic Fail

After passing week one without picking at my face at all, I was feeling really good about myself. I had will power. I had self restraint. I had… a week that followed that was super stressful and I caved under the pressure and started picking again.

It started innocently enough, as I told myself I’d only go for ones that were at the surface. Once I realized how many clogged pores were ready to go I realized that I would need to put a limit on this. Three. I would only let myself pick at three (I mean, they basically squeezed themselves).

The next night, once I had used my allotted three, I decided to up the number to five. And never in the same area… or at least not on the same side of my chin.

You can guess how the rest of the week went. Not only had I fallen off the wagon, I had proceeded to drag myself further into the adjacent ditch and lay there without sunscreen. Now I have not one, but two very hard, painful lumps on my chin which I have 100% brought on myself. They’re not as visibly as your standard whitehead, they are sensitive to the touch, which is super fun.

So here I am, back at square one. Let’s see if I can’t stay on the straight and narrow this time.

Kicking the Habit

We were in a hotel bathroom in Puerto Rico the first time I tried it. Under the yellow glow of neon lights my older sisters showed me how best to approach it. I got as close to the mirror as I could and started with my nose, applying pressure with my finger nails until I felt the release. The first little batch of blackheads squirted forth from my skin and, immediately, I was hooked — I was a picker.

My skin has always been sensitive — fragrant products and stress bring on break-outs and my pale complexion makes sunblock a year-round necessity — but the picking is really where my issues come from. Since high school I have been prone to cystic acne and all of my poking and prodding makes mountains out of mole hills on my freckled epidermis. Even so, I’ve been fairly fortunate. Others struggle with much more visible skin issues, ones that steal their confidence and make them feel less than beautiful. To damage my skin when others are unable to repair theirs just seems selfish.

So why not stop picking? Because after twenty year it’s not just a habit, it’s part of my everyday life. Each week I spend countless minutes in front of mirrors expelling the build-up of oils and dead cells from my pores. There are nights when I could be in bed a full hour earlier if it weren’t for this compulsion. I start off telling myself, I’ll just get this one… and before I know it the skin on my face is a tortured, blotchy — sometimes bleeding — mess. It’s bad for me and I know it, but something about it feels good and — unlike those pesky blackheads and whiteheads — I just can’t put my finger on it.

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One day in and a fresh whitehead decided to make an appearance.

Last week I decided to use the New Year as an excuse to quit the habit. It’s been hard, I had been really going at it in the weeks prior and that, combined with unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, meant that my skin was in especially bad shape but what better time to go cold turkey than after a binge?

Until I start to see some of the rewards, I’m working on a system for positive reenforcement. For my first week without picking, I plan on allowing myself to splurge on a fancy exfoliant (my sister generously gave me some of her Rodin+Fields Enhancements Micro-dermabrasion Paste to try out, I’ll let you know how that goes). If I make it to a month, I’m going to treat myself to a facial.

At the time of posting I have gone seven days without picking. There have been moments of temptation, but I’m keeping my eyes on the prize. In addition to breaking a bad habit and working towards clearer skin, I’m also hoping to learn more about my motivation for doing this — what about it brings me that feeling of calm? And why do I find it so hard to stop once I’ve started? If anyone reading this is a fellow picker (active or reformed), I would love it if you would share your stories in the comments.

Until next time,

Kimbo

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One week in and I’m feeling better already

End of Day Update

While my wallet won’t be happy to hear it, my hands still feel amazing – over 12 hours after application!

Thankfully they sell La Prairie at Nordstrom so I can at least get some points when I purchase this amazingly effective cellular hand cream.

It looks like a trip to the mall is in my near future.

La Prairie Plug

Fall has rushed in as quickly as, well, me when I’m late to a hair appointment. So quickly, in fact, that I didn’t even notice that my hands have begun their winter transformation to sandpaper.

Try as I may to avoid it, every year my hands get super rough with the change of the seasons. Think Scarlet O’Hara when she goes to see Rhett Butler in prison and he realizes she’s been working in the fields (minus the actual manual labor).

Over the years I’ve tried multiple hand creams and solutions;

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream (this is like Chapstick – it creates a protective wax coating, which prevents further damage, but does nothing to actually repair)
Bath & Body Works Look Ma New Hands cream with paraffin (definitely nourishing, but quickly removed the first time you wash your hands which, in cold season especially, means constant reapplication)
Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve (a combination of the previously mentioned creams).

Since the Kiehl’s seems to get the job done, but still needs time to soak in, I apply it before bed. You can feel the residue washing off in the morning, but at least it feels like it did some work first.

This morning my mother gave me the sample she got of La Praire Cellular Hand Cream so I used it when I got to work and the heavens opened up the angels sang and my hands feel like velvet.

Granted velvet has it’s price, $95 to be exact, but I might be willing to make an exception, you know, just this once.