The Skin Coach: How to Stop Picking Your Face

"The Skin Coach" column is written by Kimmy Williams, owner of Acqua e Sapone, a skin clinic in San Francisco. 

The act of picking, digging, or scraping our skin, also known as Acne Excoriee, can be an intentional attempt to get rid of a blemish or a compulsive addiction. Whether you are an intentional picker or a compulsive one, the result tends to be the same and can include a combination of unsightly scabbing, infection, scarring, and inevitably, guilt. The next time the urge comes up to gauge at your face, here are a few practical tips to save your skin from yourself:

1. Don’t examine yourself.

Spending hours in the mirror inspecting every pore on your face usually triggers an urge to pick that most of us cannot resist. To prevent this vicious cycle from occurring in the first place, avoid examining your face in the mirror.  

2. Breathe and count.

If you didn’t follow the first tip and end up spotting a blemish that you feel the need to pick at, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. Count each round of an inhale and an exhale as one. This will force you to learn how to tolerate the urge and also to take a pause to think about it instead of impulsively acting on it.

3. Throw out the magnifying mirror.

There couldn’t be a more dangerous tool for a picker than a magnifying mirror. If you have to look in a magnifying mirror to notice a "blemish," chances are that no one else can see it. If you have a magnifying mirror and feel like you can’t resist having it around without potentially picking, throw it out or give it to someone else.