From Skin-Picking to Self-Love

I remember my first pimple so vividly, even though it was over fifteen years ago. It sat on the right side of my chin, communicating from an early age that I was dealing with hormonal imbalance. Yet, instead of addressing that, I was schooled on how to deal with acne in an entirely different way. I was told to “pop it until it bleeds, then put an alcohol-soaked cotton ball on it for a few minutes. In a few days, you can just pick it right off!” Easy enough.

And so began my over-a-decade-long habit of picking my skin. 

From my point of view, picking away the scab was the necessary last step to getting rid of acne. After all, that’s what I had been told. Never mind that it didn’t actually work for me. Over time, the habit turned into a compulsion. I would catch myself running my fingertips over my skin, searching for a scabbed pimple to pick away. In my disillusionment, I felt like I could just pick away all of the acne. I remember getting my eyebrows waxed for the first time — the assistant joked that it would be great if they could wax away the acne. You have no idea, I thought. I had tried everything, even burning my skin with a lightbulb, to get rid of it. Everything except loving myself and letting myself heal. From my food choices, to my thought patterns, to my relationships, to my skin care — everything was toxic. And I just kept picking.

Of course, it didn’t work and all I gained from the picking was a scarred face. Not only had picking not cleared my skin, it had created a seemingly permanent reminder of the acne. I hated myself more than ever.

When I got really serious about my daily practice, I also committed to being real with myself about all of the ways I was engaging with self-deception. In this time, I realized that my habit of skin-picking was really a way for me to engage in low-grade self-hate. By picking my skin, I was both expressing my self-hatred and creating the sequence for more. 

Rewiring my brain not to subconsciously pick at my skin hasn’t been easy. Like I said, I’d been doing it since I was ten years old. It wasn’t enough for me to just decide to make the change. Even with all my conviction, I would still catch myself thoughtlessly picking at my skin throughout the day. I realized that I would have to first heal the part of me that hated myself, that caused the urge to pick at my skin. I would have to totally transform my relationship to myself.

 photo by Austin Ferguson

photo by Austin Ferguson

My path was a winding one — first delving into nutrition, experimenting with different diets, and learning how to eat intuitively and in joy; then moving into organic/biodynamic farming and understanding how to align myself with the earth and access my strength in service to the earth. Next came my dive into herbalism, which led me to stone medicine, and then parlayed into creating my own skincare. The big one, for me, however, came after all of this when I discovered kundalini yoga and meditation. When I took a break from mastering my studies and instead turned to mastering my self, everything began to shift in a very real, very quick way.

These are just a couple of the practices that have stuck with me and given me practical, grounded results. 

A devoted, daily practice (Sadhana).
Keeping a Sadhana will completely change, transform, and upgrade your entire life. I credit everything in my life to my Sadhana. It provides a cornerstone for my entire being and spiritual journey. It always brings me back to a state of pure, unconditional love for myself and all that is. 

 photo by Austin Ferguson

photo by Austin Ferguson

Not to mention, there are also some really incredible kriyas (yoga sets) and meditations within the Kundalini Yoga lineage that specifically address beauty, skin issues, and self-love! One of my first forty-day practices was a meditation said to make you radiant and beautiful. I didn’t fully believe it going in, but after forty days when I was noticeably more beautiful to myself and others at all levels of being, I was hooked. And not that we practice to receive compliments from others, but every time I did, I knew it was an opportunity to really cement that vision of myself in my mind that is so used to seeing myself as not good enough. 

Kundalini Yoga works directly with the nervous and endocrine systems to bring the body, mind, and spirit into balance. My acne largely was a result of hormonal imbalance and anxiety, so Kundalini Yoga addressed it immediately. Not only that, but it gave me the space to explore my own divinity, infinity, and oneness, which naturally led to feeling more confident in my own skin, supported by the universe, and connected to my inner beauty. 

If you’re seeking a devoted, daily practice but aren’t sure where to start, I would love to connect over a one on one session

A consistent, simple skincare routine.
For ages, I was obsessed with trying out every cream and cleanser I could get my hands on. I might’ve tried between one and three new products each day! It’s really no wonder my skin was in a constant state of inflammation, as it was always having to react to the next, new chemical concoction I was slathering all over it. Not to mention all of the toxic crap I was ingesting through food products, conventional body care and cleaning products, makeup, and more. Our skin really loves and appreciates simplicity and consistency. It gives it a chance to calm down, find balance, and move from reacting to regenerating. However, to really push through the blocks of self-hatred that come with skin-picking, I had to deepen my skincare routine past just the physical. What this means for me is that I recite affirmations and smile anytime I’m touching my skin during my skincare routine. I use a special rose quartz Gua Sha stone to massage my skin, activating it’s natural healing ability while infusing the entire ritual with love. Each day, I close my skincare routine by saying, “I love my clear, radiant skin!”. I say it with excitement, with joy, and with gratitude. I say it whether I am broken out like crazy or have a totally clear complexion. 

I also really suggest finding one or two really high-quality, multi-purpose products that jive well with your skin. People ask me all the time why I only make one skincare product right now when I used to make so many more. The truth is, I only need the one. And the same goes for many of my clients. I could make the other stuff and make money off of it, but there is something truly special about my Frankincense Beauty Balm that goes beyond the ingredients — although those are incredible, too. My skin has never been calmer, clearer, or brighter since I began using my balm consistently. It’s my cleanser, moisturizer (so important in the dry Colorado air), flyaway tamer, sometimes-perfume, scar healer, dry skin savior — my everything. And my skin loves it! Find what your skin loves and stick with it. 

PS: My Frankincense Beauty Balm was formulated to heal scarring from skin-picking and it definitely does! My skin no longer bears the scars of my past, which I am forever grateful for.

Moment-to-moment self check-in’s.
There are still times when I catch myself, lost in thought, picking at my skin. In times like these, I practice great compassion for myself. I don’t get down on myself or berate myself for the potential damage I’ve done. Rather, I tune in with myself and follow the thought pattern that led me to subconsciously start picking my skin so that I can be fully aware and begin shifting the sequence. Almost always, my mind will wander into self-consciousness and self-doubt right before I begin picking at my skin. When I become aware of the pattern and consciously subvert it, I then shower myself (and the spot on my skin I was picking at) with love. I bless the spot. I tell myself how beautiful and loved I am. I anoint the spot with some sacred Frankincense oil I love. I flip the script from self-hate to self-love. And over time, it becomes easier and easier to do so. 

Above all, may you experience yourself as truly, innately, purely beautiful and loved — because you absolutely are. Sat Nam.