Pimple popping gone out of control: Body Image Dysmorphia

Pimple popping gone out of control: Body Image Dysmorphia

acne pimple picking body dysmorphic disorder

I’m concerned about your pimple popping and skin picking.  You thought I didn’t know?  The telltale signs are there, and an esthetician license isn’t needed to see the discoloration, scabs and pitting.

You come in for your facial, usually with lots of concealer and foundation on to hide your picked pimples, hoping that I’ll make you “perfect”.  What I can’t seem to get you to understand is;

  • there is no such thing as perfect skin.  The models you see are makeup and lighted to seem perfect.
  • we can work together to make your skin healthier and better functioning, but you as a person are a beautiful human right now

My job is to help you to have healthy skin so its looks its best, not someone else’s best.

You're Not Alone

Most of us have struggled with picking and popping pimples.

Did you know that most of my new clients don’t like their skin (or hair, or body) even though you look at them and think they’re beautiful?

My skin had and has imperfections.  As a teen I was insecure and obsessed, picked and squeezed, got worse, etc.  My Dad, who was knowledgeable about natural health, helped me to see how I was hurting myself and doing long term damage; he helped me heal my skin and replace the damaging behaviors. 

I still have things about my skin or body that aren't my favorites, but I’ve figured out through my faith that God makes no mistakes, that our warped culture decides what’s in or out, beautiful or ugly, and is deceptive in what they show you as "reality". 

The reality is that I am perfect just as I am.  I am not loved any more or less by anyone who matters to me if I have too much/too little hair/wrinkles/brown spots/curves, whatever. 

How I can help

As your esthetician, I see you as beautiful already.  My job is to help your skin function in the healthiest way so you can look and feel your best.

It breaks my heart to see your skin torn, scabbed, bleeding, deeply scarred.  Watching you being anxious and unhappy is not what I want for you.

I want you to have peace.  So I strive to provide a safe place to experience acceptance, no judgement.  I’ll never tell you that you look “bad”.  We can talk about how you feel about your skin.  I can tell you why your skin behaves the way it does, and teach you better habits to help your skin heal.  I can recommend a proper course of treatments and a simple home care program to start the healing process on the surface.  I can recommend makeup techniques and healthier types of makeup that help acne rather than hide it and clog pores even more.  

Changing the behavior

As you may have figured by now, I’m not talking about the occasional pus-filled pimple that you just barely touch and it flows out; or the itchy feeling you get when “something’s about to come up”.  I’m talking about constant searching, whether something’s there or not, repetitive picking and squeezing, the kind where you’re spending significant time in front of a magnifying mirror with a box of tissues, tweezers or other more scary tools.

Sometimes you can change this behavior on your own.  My tips for changing the behavior;

  • get rid of tools and magnifying mirror - no person sees your skin that closely.  The tools are causing scars and spreading bacteria.
  • follow a regimen that is designed by your dermatologist or esthetician; they know how to help but you need to be consistent and patient.  Talk with them if you have concerns.  Sometimes a regimen needs to be tweaked or something stronger used.
  • every time you look at a model or actress on tv or in magazines, understand that they are heavily made up and lighted professionally - I promise that they don’t look like that in person.  Same with social media posts where people have pretty professional looking “selfies” that portray them as something they're not.  Most people have a “good side” or the picture came out well that time, but its a still life - not reality.
  • Use something on the pimple that may help.  I prefer professional level acne serums or treatments, like a serum or mask that can be used as a spot treatment.  Some people do well with organic apple cider vinegar, but please dilute what you put on your skin as it can be very irritating used undiluted.  I don’t recommend anything too drying or that suppresses skin’s immunity (like benzoyl peroxide, even tea tree is said to suppress immunity).

Reasons for picking

There are reasons you compulsively pick, even though you’re not always aware of those feelings - anxiety, stress, feeling inadequate, guilt.  The following behaviors may mean the problem is serious;

  • picking pimples anywhere on your body (face, scalp, body)
  • constant staring in a magnifying mirror or touching your face to find things to pick; pre-occupation with your looks
  • usually feeling unattractive; you believe how you look is the most important aspect of who you are as a person
  • picking when stressed, anxious or depressed
  • picking then feeling embarrassment or guilt
  • picking but not aware that time has passed
  • picking when you’re bored, tired, on the phone, watching tv, using the computer, driving, etc.
  • constant picking leading to numerous scabs and/or sores, usually bloody
  • avoiding social activities, relationships, or going outside because you’re embarrassed by your skin
  • picking that is interfering with responsibilities, work or school
  • other self-destructive behaviors - hair pulling, cutting, burning, head banging, etc.


More Help


Some of you need more intense help for compulsive destructive behaviors.  This doesn’t imply that you are sick or broken.  You just have some thoughts and habits that don’t serve you well, and its time to go deeper.

Choose mental health professionals that specialize in Body Dysmorphic Disorder and CBT.  The approach includes CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a short term, focused therapy designed to change your negative thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Eye Movement Desensit­ization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is a newer approach in psychoth­erapy, has been highly recommended to get to the ‘root’ cause of trauma and stress by recalling the negative emotions and using the technique to weaken them.

Make this the time you get help if your anxieties are causing you to lose out on enjoying life.  I’m here to walk with you through this.

joanna tringali
holistic esthetician
calm beauty brooklyn 
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