Real Talk: This Is How to Stop Picking Your Face Once and for All

I have a confession. When I was younger, I would pick my face. It wasn’t until around the time I was in college that I quit for good. How did I do it? It was with the help of an aesthetician in Los Angeles. To quickly jump ahead, I spoke with New York licensed psychologist Sanam Hafeez to learn ways others could stop picking their face, and the different reasons why we do it. But before we get to that, here’s how it worked for me:

I began seeing an aesthetician named Gohar for microdermabrasion to minimize the scars I had because of said picking. I then took preventive measures and would schedule regular visits regardless of whether or not I had breakouts. But what really changed my skin—and life—was when she offered for me to drop in any time I had a major blemish so she could do the extraction instead of me. What a novel idea to let a professional do it, right? This shifted my relationship with how I cared for my skin. But what I didn’t understand or think about was why I picked my face in the first place.

This was a lesson that came in New York on a beauty assignment at Dangene The Institute of Skinovation. I remember the visit vividly. During my appointment with the professional I saw, I explained to her that I would pick my face when I was younger… and I said that I couldn’t tell her why I did it. I explained that it didn’t fit my personality: I am type A, disgusted with germs (I’m that girl on a flight who sanitizes the tray table), and hyperaware of good hygiene and etiquette.

She shared that she has the same personality and suffered from adult acne and scarring too (which you’d never know if you saw her porcelain skin). She explained that because of this aspiration for perfection, there was a sense of necessity and satisfaction to smooth skin immediately. In that moment, it all made sense. Understanding why I would do this helped me tremendously. I understood that I was striving for clear skin, but what unblemished skin meant to me was distorted.

Of course, my journey is different than others, and to help others who pick their face to quit, I asked Hafeez (whose areas of expertise include body image, workplace stress, and anxiety, among many more) for her professional advice. Ahead, I talk to Hafeez about the secret to quit picking your face for good.