Why is burning skin so satisfying

go rite little bit like that. Once or twice a month, I stand in anticipation in my small bathroom and salute my face in the mirror. In the private sanctuary of this intimate space, I carefully examine my skin under a soft amber lamp. The lighting here is nice and welcoming, but the act I’m going to do on my face is anything but. I pick out a soft spatula and use it to smear my face a grayish-pink color. I take a closer look at my thinking, glistening with product and promise, and I wait.

It doesn’t take long for the fun to start.

As it rests in the blossoming cracks dug by years of smiles and frowns, the repentant viscous begins its reign of torture and my whole face screams with concern. It burns and I love it. It hurts and I enjoy it. but why?

I’m hardly the only one who reaches for a super annoying skincare product instead of a goodness cream that asks nothing of my tolerance. And frankly, I don’t even know if my aching mask is working or not, despite the monastic’s devotion to it apparently. What I do know is that the act of suffering somehow makes it feel like it works, and that the pain makes me feel better in the process.

The science of pain, and the way it affects guilt, helps explain the allure of hated skincare. I love my harsh facial treatments because they feel like penance, a deliberate act of earning forgiveness every time I’ve dipped in the sun unprotected. But the attraction also lies in the fact that when we endure some amount of pain in order to achieve something, our minds assign additional value to the result. The term for these intentionally traumatic experiences –masochismIt comes with all the baggage of sexual pessimism. But even after skin care, masochism is normal and pervasive, and understanding it is an important step in the process of removing the stigma of a common human practice.

in 2011 study Posted in psychology To explore the relationship between pain and atonement, the researchers asked study participants to write about one of two things: an example of another person’s rejection or exclusion, or a harmless interaction. Next, they filled out a questionnaire about how guilt they felt. Then the fun part: They had to put their entire hand in ice water for as long as possible. Well, some of them are anyway. The control group got room temperature, scoundrels.

The researchers found that people who wrote about their guilty memories held their hands in ice water longer, rated the ice water as more painful than the others, and experienced a significant reduction in guilt afterward. Read that again. The offenders experienced more pain, said it hurt more, and felt less guilt afterward. To illustrate this, the authors refer to D.B. Morris’ book, pain culture, which states that “pain is traditionally understood as purely physical, but it is more accurate to describe it as the intersection of body, mind, and culture.” This model of thinking sees people give pain meaning, and Dr. Brock Bastian, one of the study’s authors, says that people are socialized from birth to accept pain within a judgmental model of punishment.

I think it has more to do with a relationship between pain and justice. “Permanent pain can feel like it provides a sense of justice and a form of self-punishment,” Bastian says, noting that the embodiment of punishment can be linked to repentance to varying degrees. It’s not that people openly tell themselves “I punish myself with pain” but rather [they are] Going on a strenuous jog or doing something stressful satisfies the need to restore justice through punishment.” As Bastian says in the paper, “History is replete with examples of ritual or self-induced pain intended to achieve purification.”

In the case of skin care, a sense of justice arises when we feel we have done more earn Effects of painful creams and micro coolants. Pain also gives us a taste of atonement by self-punishment, making us pay for all the crimes we’ve committed against our skin: days without sunscreen, cigarette smoke, compulsive picking, and sleeping in makeup. And once we pay for our leather sins, we get a sweet, sweet taste.

But my attraction to masochistic skincare isn’t just about guilt. There is something else going on, something to do with the ways humans create and experience value. “If something is painful, it can create a sense of value or effectiveness,” Bastian explains. In general, putting effort into things increases our perception of their value, “so using skincare products that are mediocre and hurt a bit, that probably fades into our perception that they’re doing something.”

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