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How to Stop Skin Picking

How to Stop Skin Picking

Does anyone else have that friend who is obsessed with popping pimples? If you don’t, you’re probably the friend. If you’re guilty of skin picking, don’t worry, this is a safe space. While we here at esmi are believers in the no-face-touching policy, we know it can be hard to resist the urge to pick that pimple that is driving you crazy.

While it might seem like no big deal, skin picking can cause long-lasting damage and scarring. So, let’s help you jump off the picking bandwagon with some do’s and don’ts.

Why Do We Pick Our Skin?

It’s fairly normal for people to pick at the bumps on their face from time to time, and it often comes down to being a bad habit or stress related. However, if picking becomes chronic, it may be a medical skin-picking disorder called excoriation. Now in those extreme cases, it might be time to visit a naturopath or GP, but if you’re a regular old skin picker, read on.

For most, skin picking starts with pimples and acne, but can also surface thanks to a rash that can lead to scabbing. Picking at your skin can become so routine, you don’t even think about it - kind of like opening Instagram every time you turn on your phone. You might not even notice you’re doing it!

Aside from a habit, skin picking can be a symptom of anxiety. Have you gone through a really stressful time in your life recently? You might notice skin picking becomes a subconscious relief mechanism.

How to Stop Skin Picking - The Do’s

Do Keep Your Hands Busy

Whether the root cause of your skin picking is habit or stress, keeping your hands occupied can go a long way to letting the urge to pick pass. Okay hear us out, stress balls. We know it sounds silly, but they help to relieve stress and take your mind off skin picking. Keep one near your bed or in your bathroom.

If the humble stress ball sounds like a stretch to you, take up a habit like crocheting - crochet bucket hats are having a moment!

Another option is to replace the bad habit with a good one. Every time you feel the need to pick your face, moisturise instead. In dire cases, if you think you might be picking in your sleep, grab yourself a cheap pair of gloves to wear while you sleep, just at least until your skin has a chance to heal.

Do Keep Your Nails Short and Clean

Okay, we love using Kylie Jenner’s Instagram as our nail inspo, but if you’re prone to skin picking, you’re going to want to keep them on the shorter side to avoid too much damage to your gorgeous skin. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, keep your nails clean - please!

The underside of your nails can harbour bacteria which, if you are picking, can end up under your skin and in some cases lead to infection (as if you needed another reason not to chew them).

Do Have a Skin Picking-Friendly Skincare Routine

Remember what we said about bacteria under the skin causing infections? Yeah, that’s why you’re going to want to use products that keep your skin clean and help it to heal.

As is the case with any open wounds, keeping your skin clean is vital. Cleansing twice a day with The Uncomplicated Cleanser will send nasty bacteria packing which is exactly what we want! If pimples are what’s causing your skin picking, time to adopt an anti-acne routine, featuring the Fresh Sea and Salty Sand Gentle-Foliant (to gently remove congestion) and the Peppermint Green Oil (to balance oil flow and we love its antibacterial benefits). Keeping your skin clean and clear will also prevent future bumps and pimples which equals less picking - win, win!

If you have some scarring, try our Encapsulated Retinol range (start with the lowest concentration and work your way up) to help with cell turnover and regeneration. 

How to Stop Skin Picking - The Don’ts

Don’t Reach for the Pins and Tweezers

For the love of the skincare gods, put down the sharp objects. Your skin is delicate and if you don’t know what you’re doing you’re likely to do more damage. They are rarely sterilised, meaning you’ll only push bacteria and sebum further into your skin and cause permanent scarring. To sum it up; leave the extractions to the professionals.

Don’t Ignore Your Triggers

Next time you go to pick your skin, think about what made you want to. Were you stressed, bored, frustrated? Think of it like meditation; really become aware of your senses and triggers. That’s when you can avoid those triggers or replace the bad habits with more positive ones.


Skin picking can, in the best-case cause pain and irritation, and in the worst case, permanent scarring. That’s why avoiding it at all costs is key for clear and glowing skin. If you have any other questions on skin picking, chat to one of our Skin Experts.