When I look at myself in the mirror at night, an insatiable urge comes over me. If I see a blemish or clogged pore, I have to squeeze it.
I tie a considerable amount of my appearance-based confidence to my skin. To be honest, I don't put a ton of focus on my hair, style, or physique. My locks aren't modelesque, my clothes are by no means Instagram-worthy, and nobody in their right mind could reasonably accuse me of being a gym addict. I do, however, take pride in diligently caring for my complexion.
I have a religious skincare regimen I follow each morning and evening. But I also have a weakness: Popping my pimples and unclogging my pores. This, as you may be able to guess, is terrible for your skin. "You actually spread the puss out at the bottom so you're creating more inflammation," says Jody Levine M.D., national medical director and co-owner of AOB Med Spa. And if you're not careful, it can actually scar your skin.
In order to break my bad habit and better my skin, I embarked on a weeklong experiment to stop popping and picking once and for all.
As you can see, I had a few red marks and blemishes. Okay, more than a few—I had picked at my skin the night before. It started with one little zit, which turned into unclogging the blemish next to it, which turned into a whopping 15 minutes of touching my skin with my fingers. Yuck.
The second day wasn't so hard. I just had to keep looking at my red skin, still raw from poking at it the previous night, to stop myself from touching it again.
Trying not to pick my skin was tough—especially when I realized I still had a rather giant pimple. It just sat there on my cheek, glaring at me and looking pretty terrible, even under my foundation. (Note: I realize I could just stop wearing base makeup and my skin would clear up, but since this is an experiment regarding popping and picking, I thought it best to keep all other conditions the same.)
My skin started looking better, thank goodness. There were still some clogged pores, but (surprise!) they were doing just fine without my "helping" e.g. squeezing them.
My skin looked so good, I only used a tinted moisturizer instead of my regular medium-coverage foundation. Clearly (hyuck hyuck), the experiment was actually helping, which I honestly wasn't sure would happen. I had been apprehensive, irrationally assuming that a ceasefire on my squeezing could potentially lead to tons more blackheads when in reality, the opposite was true.
Almost there! There were still a few blemishes, but they were significantly less noticeable than on Day 1.
Voilà! My skin is by no means perfect (nor did I expect it to be), but as you can see, it's less inflamed and irritated. The red patches are more even, the pimples are less puffy. All in all, I think I'll just look at these photos any time I need to remind myself not to touch my face, no matter how tempting it is.
The difference is pretty drastic: