I have a confession ‘ because everyone loves a good confessional.
I pick my pimples. It is hard to write that, because it feels like the confession of a 16-year old girl, not a woman on the other side of 40. It is probably one of my worst habits, and I’ve been hesitant to admit this ‘ and to try, for 66 days, to stop doing it ‘ because I am afraid it is a habit that is engrained in me. I’ve had this nervous habit for a long, long time so I need help.
Enter my lovely friend Donna Teodorov. The owner of the New Age Spa in Toronto, Donna is much more than an aesthetician ‘ she is trained in aromatherapy, reflexology, nutrition, Ayurveda and acupuncture ‘ to name but a few tricks up her sleeves. She has taught me meditation, she teaches yoga at the Chopra Centre, and she is one of the most grounded people I know.
I met Donna years ago when I noticed one of my friends, Kimmy, had glowing skin. I don’t know about you, but whenever I see someone with really great skin my first question is: How do you have such great skin? Where do you go? What products do you use? Help me! Kimmy introduced me to Donna, one of the most important connections in my life. We’ve been friends ever since.
So, when I had questions about how to stop picking my skin ‘ and how to achieve great skin ‘ I immediately got in touch with Donna. Although she does call me ‘angel’, she is very clear that I’m not being angelic with my skin ‘ and my habit needs to be nipped: ‘Picking your skin will leave scars,’ she tells me. Yikes. ‘The skin gets darker, and if the puss is not up to the surface, it isn’t ready to come out. When you squeeze the pimple you spread the infection down in the dermis.’
Bear with me ‘ the news gets worse.
‘This causes a rupture in the wall of the hair follicle, spreading the infection, causing more and deeper breakouts that are painful. So, you get more breakouts around the one you were first attacking.’ I know this to be true ‘ I will get a spot, and then I will pick it, and then I have four spots around the first site. So, what to do?
‘You have to have patience and discipline and recognize that picking your skin is almost like an addiction,’ Donna tells me. ‘Look at your emotional causes and mind patterns that you need to change. Remind yourself that you will make things worse instead of better, it will take longer for the skin to heal.’
So, stop picking your skin Erin. Now.
My issue with my skin goes deeper. I’m perplexed about why I still get pimples, how to achieve healthy, glowing skin, and how to know what to choose. There are hundreds of products on the market ‘ what is right for you?
‘You have to consult with a trained professional, who will be able to give you the best advice,’ Donna says. ‘Look at it like getting a prescription for your skin health.’ You might have to try a few different products to find what is suitable for your skin. And, Donna reminds us, your skin changes from season to season, and stress and health issues affect your skin, so your routine might need to change.
What about that routine? Donna says we should all be cleansing, exfoliating, toning ‘ which restores the PH balance of the skin – and moisturizing, ideally with organic products. ‘Everything we apply to the skin penetrates the blood stream through the pores, affecting our health and not just the skin. There are so many irritating and toxic ingredients that affect our immune system that many companies still use ‘ watch out for chemicals, fragrance, color, parabens, mineral oils, Vaseline, lanolin and alcohol.’
And, Donna’s final bits of advice ‘ take care of your skin from the inside out. ‘Have one tablespoon of Omega 3s with each meal’ ground flax seeds, coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil, pumpkin seeds or oil, sunflower seeds. Eat lots of greens and orange fruits and vegetables ‘ kale, spinach, mango, sweet potatoes, carrots ‘ these have beta carotene, which is very good for the skin. Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis ‘ this is what we start to lose as we get older, and the skin looks saggy ‘ so up your strawberries and kiwis,’ Donna tells me. ‘Probiotics are very good ‘ natural yogurt or Bio K to balance the internal PH of your body. And I love green tea and Rooibos tea ‘ I call them multivitamins in a cup, full of antioxidants that the body absorbs right away. Finally, drink 2-3 liters of water a day, depending on your height, weight and physical activity ‘ this will help flush the toxins.’
I vow to have the kind of skin, where other women stop me and ask me how I get that glow. It will just take time, patience and discipline.
Follow me on Twitter @erinpp
Erin Phelan is a fitness trainer and mom of two. She’s a regular contributor to Best Health.