No matter how many times people tell you not to, picking at facial imperfections can be painfully difficult to resist. Last week, I succumbed to the urge myself: I attempted to extract a small bump on my cheek so aggressively that it, in a matter of minutes, essentially became a gaping wound. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, either — I’m prone to performing unnecessary surgery on anything that looks remotely like a blemish, then wanting to cry when I see how inflamed and angry I’ve made my skin. I’ve gone through the miserable cycle of picking and healing many, many times — and now, I not only know how to deal with it on a mental level (sort of) but have discovered what works in speeding up the healing process.

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What I share with you below is my actual routine when my skin is in recovery from major, horribly executed extractions — the combination of all of these products has helped my self-inflicted wounds and the worst of my hyperpigmentation resolve in about a week and a half. Disclaimer: I realize that this is a lot of therapy. If you’re looking for an effective but slightly less expensive combination of things to heal the mess you’ve created on your face, pick and choose from my selection and see what works for you.

Read More: How to Get Brighter, Clearer Skin in 20 Minutes or Less

 

 

Post-Picking: Day 1 to 3

We are dealing with fresh, reddish marks, the sort that makes you fill with regret everytime you look into the mirror. New skin has yet to form over your handiwork, so you spot these reddish brown blemishes with sorrowful regret.

What Not To Do: Stop using pimple creams on these marks as the harsh drying ingredients in anti-acne medication will aggravate the skin, given its current raw state. AHAs are also a no-no unless you want to risk looking like a burn victim.

LED Red

What To Do: Repent your moment of haste by treating your skin with gentle respect. LED Red employs a no-touch technique and uses special light to help the skin heal and calm down. I’ve found that this NASA inspired technology (the in-clinic version not the home device) is by far the best low-cost alternative to lasers and works great for new pimple scars. By boosting skin healing, we can minimize chances of long term scarring so the earlier you get it done the better it would be for your skin. To speed up skin formation over these raw wounds, use Skin Drink which is a bottleful of squalane which is naturally rich in vitamins and helps to reform the skin barrier to protect your skin from further damage. Hydrating your skin surface also provides the ideal environment for skin to heal.

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Post-Picking: Day 4 to 7

By the end of the first week is usually when any scabs formed would have fallen off.

Expecting to see flawless skin underneath, many are horrified to see that, even when the affected area scabs and falls off, it can still leave behind a really nasty dark mark that can sometimes last for what feels like forever.

What Not To Do: Do not use scrubs or peels at this point as any skin formed is thin and easily irritated. Furthermore, the type of pigmentation that you have now is a form of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and anything that serves to irritate the skin more may aggravate it.

What To Do: Time for the heavy weaponry to come in in terms of depigmentation creams. Special Effects harnessing the triple powers of mequinol, vitamin a and arbutin, is one of the more effective skin lightening creams. I also topped up with White Plasma which works by a different de-pigmentation pathway using tranexamic acid. By using a variety of ingredients, you are ensuring that you are employing different methods to lighten your skin, which is more effective than over-using anyone product.

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Post-Picking: Week 2 to 4

By this time, skin that has healed would have done so, and those marks remaining are likely to be there for the long haul. These leftover marks tend to be brown and dark and skin is likely to have grown over full thickness. The healing phase being done and dusted, now what you have left are patches of leftover stubborn pigmentation.

What Not To Do: Don’t try to sunbathe in the hope that a tanned base will camouflage your marks. UV will induce darkening of all skin including your blemishes. By the time your tan fades, you will find your marks a shade darker than before.

What To Do: Creams would only be an adjunct at this point. By all means, continue using them so that you can give your skin the best chance at clarity. But it’s time to face the music and seek medical grade laser therapy such as Pico Pigment and BBL Forever Young. Pico Pigment is a laser suitable for most skin types and works to lighten stubborn pigment effectively. BBL forever young is best for skins that are not too tanned and it lightens pigment, brightens complexions as well as an anti-aging effect on the skin. Depending on the amount of marks on your face, you may benefit from anywhere from one to a few sessions.

With this arsenal of blemish-battling options, flawless skin is still a possibility even if you commit the gravest of skin sins such as picking your face.

Read More: 5 Facial Alternatives That Give You Gorgeous Skin with No Downtime

 

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