How I Finally Stopped Picking My Face


pimples, acne, facial, picking your face

I know, I know, this topic is less than glamorous. Gross, most people would even say. But I decided to write about it anyway because picking my face is something I’ve really struggled with in the past, and I know I can’t be the only one… If I could help just one person stop this horrible habit, then it would be worth sharing this embarrassing thing about myself! So, if you’re like me and find pimple popping extremely satisfying (I hate to admit it), then keep reading to learn the one trick I have implemented that has made all the difference in my complexion.

acne scars, pimple popping, picking your face

First, some background about my skin. I started routinely washing my face in the fifth grade, before any pimples began developing (fun fact: I used to imagine myself giving informational videos about treating acne as I washed my face, and I perpetually wondered how casually splashing water all over your face, like they do in all the Neutrogena commercials, would get anything off). In middle school, I started using a stronger, acne-specific regimen (from that worked really well for me. I used it for several years before deciding to stop, but I never knew for sure whether or not it was the formula that was extremely effective, that I started using it before pimples became a problem, or if I just didn’t really suffer from acne anyway (even though my brothers had). Throughout high school, I had pretty great skin, which is evident in my super old blog posts. Sure, I would get occasional pimples and lots of blackheads (which I would admittedly try to pop), especially during that time of the month, but what I thought was “acne” was never more than some mild breakouts.

stylish outfit to wear for the super bowl

Flash forward to November 2018, my freshman year of college (see above). I finally, and unfortunately, learned what it meant to have real acne (a 19th birthday present to myself, hooray!). My cheeks were constantly covered with pimples and red marks, most of which weren’t even poppable (the “undergrounders”, as my family calls them). I could spend a whole other blog post going into the theories I’ve devised as to why my skin suddenly became so bad, but the point is that I had never had such horrible skin before. I was extremely embarrassed about it and self-conscious all the time.

purple top, pink headband, how to stop picking your face

Sometime around May last year, my skin finally started to clear up again (I also have some theories about that). But of course, I still get some gnarly pimples every now and again, and it is so difficult for me not to pop them with my fingers. Extremely difficult! So, how then have I managed to keep my skin so clear and refrain from giving into the ever-present popping temptation?

habit tracker, picker, picking your face, acne

A habit tracker. I had never heard of a habit tracker before I saw my suitemate making one (probably because I don’t keep up with the latest and greatest in the bullet journaling world), but it has been a lifesaver to me. A habit tracker is exactly what it sounds like: a calendar or other list-like tool to mark which days you adhere to a habit you want to form (or in my case, break). As you can see in the picture above, I set mine up each month on the monthly layout of my planner, making sure the days/weeks align accordingly. Whenever I refrain from picking my face, I get to color in that day’s box. But whenever I fail, I have to put an X in the box. As the picture above shows, I’ve picked my face three times so far in the month of February.

how to stop picking your face, acne, acne scars

In a way, the habit tracker shames me into avoiding picking my face. Tough love? You could say that, but it’s a tough love I need. By picking my face constantly, I was scarring my skin and leaving lasting marks. Even though I knew this and hated myself for picking, I could never seem to stop… until now. I first started adding a habit tracker to the monthly layouts in my planner back in the fall of last year (October, to be exact), and since then I have been working to make every day’s box filled in. By mid-December, I had gone 30-some days without picking, which was incredible and hard to believe (it reminds me of those big signs in factories, like in Monsters, Inc., that say “37 Days Since the Last Incident”). During that streak, I got a huge white pimple on my face that I had avoided popping for a day already, and I knew if I waited just one or two days more the blemish would go away on its own… But it tested me every time I went to the bathroom or passed a mirror. Eventually, that night, I finally gave in and popped it. I then started to cry, having broken my long streak, and then I picked my face even more. As upset and dejected as I felt after that night, it was a very important lesson for me.

Not only did I feel horrible about reverting back to my old ways (and having to put a big ugly X in the box on my habit tracker), but I realized in the days after “the incident” that my face broke out even more—the worst it had in awhile. It shouldn’t have been surprising to me that picking my face (and thereby rubbing my oily hands all over my pores) would lead to more pimples. But for whatever reason, that experience helped me realize how important it was for me to not touch my face if I wanted to avoid making even more blemishes.

face picker, picking my face, pink headband

I realize the idea of a habit tracker won’t work for everyone who is trying to stop picking. But for me, the combination of my obsessive personality, the need to “keep the streak alive”, and the internal disappointment associated with missing a day really pushes me to be better about taking care of my skin. And now look how far I’ve come! I sometimes do a little happy dance when I realize how good my face looks and how little I’ve picked it. Sure, I still relapse every now and again (especially this month, due to lots of stress), but the habit tracker holds me accountable and allows me to celebrate my accomplishments when I’ve been good.

pimple popping, bar necklace, pink headband

So what about you? Have you ever struggled with this issue? I’ve opened up to my boyfriend about this (attractive, I know) and he’s just not a picker. Not ever! I couldn’t believe this when I first found out! I can’t imagine not having the urge to pick all the time, but I’m sure it’s an amazing feeling. On a less gross note, I actually had a lot of fun taking photos for this post because I spent a lot of time playing around with the mirror and the angles. Any picker knows that getting close to a mirror can be a dangerous game… But I resisted, and I enjoyed seeing how different locations around the mirror affected my pose and reflection.

Anyway, while this post was probably irrelevant to a lot of you, I hope it was helpful to someone out there. If you struggle with this, I feel you! I hope you all have a fantastic Monday and have a great start to your week.


Miles of smiles,


10 comments on “How I Finally Stopped Picking My Face”

  1. It must have been challenging to break the habit of picking your skin, because it’s actually called dermatillomania or excoriation disorder. I used to bite my nails, and had to keep my hands busy all the time to prevent myself from doing it. Yes, these topics may not be as glamorous as dressing up for Valentines, but you don’t know who’s reading your posts, Grace, you might even make someones day by sharing your struggles and victories! Have a good day. Aiva

    1. Thanks so much for such a sweet comment Aiva! I didn’t know it actually had a name… but I imagine biting nails is similarly very difficult to quit. Have a great night!

  2. That was actually quite interesting to me. My oldest is battling acne right now and he is realizing what a difference his skin regimen makes. He slipped two weeks and it took a good full 6 to 8 weeks to get back to where it was before. Not blemish free but major improvement. Probably need to go back to dermatologist I skip but to see what did thinks. I never had any issues growing up but hubby and his mom did. Hopefully my other boys won’t. I will probably read the part about messing with his face to him.

    1. Yes, acne can be so hard!! I’m glad his face is getting back to normal now… regimens are so important.

  3. That’s such a great way to help with any bad habit, I bet. I am terrible about wanting to pick my face if I have a pimple. Luckily I don’t get a lot. But I laugh because as a dentist, I was constantly picking at people’s teeth (just what you wanted to hear, right?)

  4. I have struggled with acne since I was 11. 😫 After illuminating all meat and most dairy (I splurge from time to time socially), my skin has calmed. Love the habit tracker idea so much!!!

    1. Thanks so much Meghan!! I’m not strong enough to cut out all dairy… But I have noticed since I stopped drinking milk that it has seemed to help a lot with my skin!

  5. While I’ve not dealt with this it’s great you’ve found something that worked for you to change your habits and this could be helpful for anyone who is struggling with giving something up! 🙂 I find my skin breaks out a lot when I get stressed – possibly related to my chocolate consumption while stressed, haha! – but it’s better than it used to be and even at it’s worst I knew not to pick and let it heal itself. I don’t like icky things maybe that’s why I never poked at it? haha!

    Hope that you had a lovely weekend 🙂

    Thanks so much for joining the #WeekdayWearLinkup! A new link up is live on my blog now, I’d love you to join again.

    1. Oooh haha yes the chocolate always get to ya! Thanks for the comment and for sharing your thoughts, Mica. Have a great day!

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