From Our Readers

Beauty Products To Reverse Facial Mutilation

I don’t invest much in the beauty industry. I don’t have cabinets of hair sprays, volumizers, anti-wrinkle creams, self-tanners and body lotions. I don’t have dozens of makeup carrying cases that travel with me on vacations. I’m old school with my cetaphil and bar of soap. I’ve read the Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf and Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel by Jean Kilbourne. My lack of consumption of beauty products is due to a combination of resistance to gender roles, frugal spirit, acceptance of my appearance as is and sheer laziness. But I do have this secret stash of products that serve as remedies to this problem I have. You see, I pick my face. Like for fun.

Every other night I feel a strong impulse to inspect each pore within an inch of my mirror. I will spot and zero in on a clogged pore invisible to all but me. And then I’ll go to town. I create problems, manifest blemishes, irritations and spread oil all over that create zits. And then there is the greatest consequence of all, scabs. Friends have taken to yelling across my apartment, “What are you doing?!” when I disappear and get quiet.

This God awful habit vanished from my life for two years while I lived with a man. You see, he would let me pick on his person. He even bought me this awesome tool and let me use his headlamp that in a former life was for camping. He must have really loved me. I’d approach with my tool, inspecting, discovering and then squealing with delight upon releasing an ingrown hair or white head. Eventually he grew tired of my obsession. He’d notice that I was looking at his nose while he talked. Fixated on his pores and not the substance of his words. Eventually, my privileges were greatly restricted.

After we broke up, I was forced to go back to doctoring my own face. I realized I had to buy some remedies to heal my skin post destruction. Enter Mario Badescu. For actual pimples, the Drying Lotion is your best bet. Put on this miracle pink liquid as spot treatment over night. For under the surface blemishes, try the Drying Cream. You can blend it into your skin thus allowing for you to wear it during the day while out in the world. And when you have full blown scabs, try the Healing and Soothing Mask and Special Healing Powder alternating with your standard Neosporin. I must add that Mario Bedesco is awesome at sending fairly large free samples. This is how I got hooked on Seaweed Cleansing Soap, a green scrub that feels like a productive reward for my face each time I use it.

As you can see, I don’t plan on stopping my addiction only mitigating its repercussions. The other night I stumbled upon the world’s oldest black head on YouTube and played it for my father. He shook his head in disgust while proclaiming he was the only human in the world to not have blackheads. He also threatened to put mittens on my hands if I kept this behavior up. I’m not sure if this behavior is unique to my gender. Or maybe an evolution from primates picking at each other as a sign of care and friendship. I mean, my mother loved to finger my scalp when I was little, looking for ticks and moles. But I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone. (See here, and here.) Fellow female amateur dermatologists, holla if you hear me.

Kristina Apgar is a New Jersey native currently living in Brooklyn. She spent eight years in Los Angeles working as an actress playing mostly junkies and deeply disturbed young women who always randomly had black eyes. Although she is prouder of taking nine years to graduate UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science. To get into heaven she volunteers with kids and hopes to rescue seventeen pit bulls someday. Have a cause to suggest? Because I’m sure Kristina would love to take it up in her vast amount of freelance, free time. Read more on her Twitter and tumblr.

  • Sarah Bear

    I have the same issue! My face, back, neck. If I can reach it, I will absolutely decimate that area. I’ve been told it’s actually a part of my anxiety disorder which kind of makes me sad because it often makes me feel much better. Alas, it doesn’t make my face look better. I’m currently trying to recover from a particularly bad breakout and it’s taking months to heal so I may look into some of your remedies! Thanks!

  • Laura Durham

    I have the same issue, wish I could stop. It could also be tied to my anxiety order like Sarah Bear

  • Allison Stevens

    I thought I was the only one. I’m especially secretive of mine. Only my mom knows about it really. With me it’s just ingrown hairs, and hairs in general. It started out as just plucking my eyebrows, then I ventured to my mustache and nose hairs, then my hands and fingers (which is my favorite place). I now do it to my armpit hairs and the little hairs on top of my feet, and sometimes the thicker hairs around my ankles.

    I’ve read of trichtophilomania, but I really don’t think that’s what I have.

  • Katie Lynn Jobczynski

    I have the same “addiction.” I think it is somehow linked to my anxiety disorder. I love a good picking session.

  • Megan Hochstrasser

    It’s called dermatotillomania, guys. Read about it!

  • Melanie Mac

    That’s right, it’s called dermatillomania- and I don’t think it should be taken lightly. I’m in therapy for this disorder and its absolutely related to your anxiety problems. Get yourself some help because this can manifest to become much worse of a problem, and it starts from the inside out! Check out it’s a great resource and helped me find my therapist. Thrichotillomania is closely related to dermatillomania, and I wish anyone with this problem to try and get help :-)

  • Becca Hosey

    I do this to my hair. thanks for sharing and making me feel less disgusting

  • Aiyana Yuki Adshead

    It may be satisfying to pick, but the BEST way to have healthy skin is to leave it alone! Also, stress causes the worst of break outs! Try doing some more activities that relax you.
    Tracy Raftl is the best on this:

    Hope it helps :)

  • Britney Stewart

    I do this all the time! And my boyfriend lets me pick at him too (he likes it though). I’m glad I’m not the only one! I thought it was a little weird. I did see one woman pick at her boyfriend’s back on the beach one day. She did her duty, then they left. I guess that’s the only reason they went…

  • Christiana Otomako

    I thought I was the only one who was this obsessed!!! It’s good to know I”m not alone. I have to wear makeup though, every day, for my job. (I work in a salon.)

    My husband lets me pick out his ingrown hairs. I love him for that. :)

    …although when I suggested tweezing out every facial hair on his cheek/lip/chin, he looked horrified, so I left that one alone. =P

  • Fernanda Mariscotti

    Oh I have the same problem! Just this week I went by the pharmacy to pick up my usual skin care product. I know that if I wear it 2 nights in a row, all my pimples go away. Seeing the difference between my “healthily” treated pimples and the scabs and scars left of the ones I pick helps me resis the urge to pick my skin again – Pavlov would have a feast with me. It took me getting old to realize all the pimples I’d picked since my teenage years had left permanent tiny scars (Megan Fox has those, too – also, model Jac Jagaciak), it makes me sad that I kept up with the habit this long because there’s no turning back from those scars.

  • Megan Whitmer


  • Maxx Nyckel Pyron

    Have the same problem, andso does my best friend. It isn’t gender specific, or weird! I think pretty much everyone does it but hates to admit it. 😛

  • Steve Oreck

    It is not gender specific I have it too.

  • Audrey Morgan Delgado

    i do that constantly and my boyfriend always asks if there’s “anything on his back.” i miss the days when he did cyclocross because now he’s not as pimply from the grime as before. but, some may think that’s a positive. oh, and use Medicine Mama’s Bee Magic–ever since i have used it, no blemished and younger looking skin. never have so many people (genuinely) compliment how young i look since using this product. i tell everyone about it and am trying to make my own concoction at home :)

  • Cassie LaRussa

    You aint my boyfriend if you dont let me squeeze your blackheads!!!

  • Colleen McArdelle

    It’s called dermatillomania (also known as compulsive skin picking or excoriation disorder)!

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