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My Dirty Little Secret.

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My name is Angel. I'm an addict. I'm addicted to skin picking. Or perhaps just addicted to picking out my imperfections and focusing on them with diamond-cuttin laser focus. Today I am starting "the regimen". Or should I say... tomorrow i am starting. I've already messed up today.

I've only told a few people about my "dirty little secret".. and they all think I'm crazy. The problem is that I never let anyone see me without make up. I'm a young, fairly successful business woman in the beauty industry and with a name like "Angel", everyone expects me to look like a cherub at all times. But the truth is, without makeup I feel less than angelic. I see my clients without makeup everyday and so many of them are beautiful. Truly, naturally beautiful women. Women that don't need makeup. I'm often told by people that I'm naturally beautiful - but they don't realize that they've never seen me natural. I'm quick to take the complement - and just as quick to go home, take my makeup off, and pick out all the reasons why I'm NOT naturally beautiful. I'm chasing after wind. Some women have naturally beautiful skin - no scars from years of picking or discoloration from wreaking havoc on already extra-fragile skin. I am not one of these women.

And now the reason why I am posting this log. I have minor acne that I "control" through picking - often resulting in major acne. I've had a picking problem since I was 15 (10 years now). The first time I told anyone about this problem was 3 years ago. The first person I told thought I was crazy, as did the second and third. I told my family and they said it didn't sound like a real problem. I get cystic acne - at most 2 at a time, and smaller breakouts usually directly caused by me picking at something that wasn't a problem in the first place (clogged pores mostly). So to a normal person, I seem crazy talking about how much my acne bothers me. They just say "it could be worse" - but they have no idea what I see.

I'm a perfectionist, meaning I always see the flaws and try to "fix" them. I've had periods of time when I did not pick, and my skin was beautiful. And then one day someone would tell me I had great skin. In my brain I'd hear a voice saying "she thinks you have great skin because you have great makeup. Go wash your face and see what your skin really looks like". Then I would go home, wash my face (oddly enough I can't stand the feeling of makeup on my skin although I never leave home without it), and I would begin to see all the perceived flaws again, and typically find something to pick at. Something to prove that voice right. Once again, I would prove to myself just how imperfect I truly am, and thus start a new cycle of picking, irritation, breakout, more picking, more self loathing, reclusiveness, and general unhappiness. I use past tense because I am finally at a point in my life of truly wanting to make this a thing of the past.

I'm a christian and I truly believe that God loves me. I'm struggling with the thought that if God loves me, why can't I love myself? Or at least accept myself? I know I am not perfect and never will be in this life. And, I know that this is an addiction. I can tell you that for sure by the adrenaline rush I got earlier while decemating my face after dinner - a session which prompted me to post on this forum. I've tried to challenge myself before but I've never shared it with anyone so I've had zero accountability when I changed my mind or decided to "do it tomorrow". I know that God gives us self control and I furthermore know that I have NOT even attempted to exercise mine. When the voice inside says "step away, you're going to regret this" I say "I'll just take a closer look".

I've recently married and I realized tonight how much this is affecting me. After my mirror session earlier this evening I tried to watch a movie with my husband and I just did not want him to touch me. I felt so ashamed. Not to mention the fact that my skin is extremely fragile so, in order to cover up the impending hours of redness and swelling, I slathered my face in horrible smelling proactiv refining mask. This does nothing to help my acne - but it DOES cover my face to keep me from picking at it further and it does save me a tiny bit of embarassment. My husband knows about my problem - i've cried about it in front of him a few times. I picked at my face right before our honeymoon and almost had a nervous breakdown about how unnatractive I felt that whole week. I'd like to think he doesn't see my flaws but he has a mild case of the same problem so I know he sees them. It's affecting our relationship but I'm too embarassed to even talk to him about it and I don't want to draw his attention to my flaws. So, here I am. Anonymous Angel. I'm sure no one will have any interest in my story - we all have a story and I'm sure there are many much better than mine. But if one person reads this and I can help them or at least be accountable to one human being - someone who understands - I would be one step closer to overcoming.

I am praying about this situation and faithfully starting day one of this regimen and a personal self-control challenge for myself: no getting within 3 feet of a mirror and very little sugar in my diet (I'm not sure if it's the guilt over succumbing to my cravings or the sugar rush that causes me to pick afterwards but i know it wouldn't hurt to cut back - I'm a bit of a health nut anyway). I will post pictures of my progress starting tomorrow. I'm not worried about losing my anonymity - no one will recognize me without makeup :-D. So, here it goes - tomorrow is day 1 of the regimen. I just need a jump-start to end the cycle of breakouts I get from touching my face. Then, if I can form new habits and get rid of the acne I currently have, I truly believe I can overcome this.

Whoa - that's a lot and that's not even 5% of what I feel about this subject. Part of this is just therapeutic - I've never fully expressed what a hold this has had on my life. That's it for now - until tomorrow...


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I can completely identify with you. I was a victim of my own picking from age 12 to relatively recently (in college). Thankfully, I didn't do too much damage to myself except for one small, barely indented scar I left near my hairline (only visible in harsh light if you're looking for it). My only other facial scar is from the chicken pox (I picked that too... I guess you're born with the tendency). I can't emphasize enough that picking invariably makes a small thing into a big thing, causes psychological scarring in addition to physical scarring, and is just a terrible thing to do to yourself. I also understand the "trance" that pickers go into where they just can't help themselves and they don't care how much it hurts, they just want the "thing" out of their skin. Stopping any destructive habit takes willpower. I didn't stop until I told all my friends about it. I told my roommates about it, and told them to please bother the crap out of me if they noticed me "scanning" my face with my fingers. I told everyone I was friends with. A surprising number of people (usually women) have the same bad habit to varying degrees. It was actually very comforting, and my friends were very understanding and supportive. I just explained that it was a destructive, self-mutilating habit and that I wanted to stop and would they please help me. If your friends are not supportive of you, you need new friends. A true friend will take an admission of self-harm and react with concern, love, and constructive advice. If someone is calling you "crazy", they are not a kind person.

My main picking "trigger" is scanning my face with my hands and looking for inconsistencies, so I had to stop doing that. I find that avoiding touching my face entirely is the best way to deal with the habit. Even though my skin is clear now through a low GI, no dairy, no gluten, no citrus (I know... wtf?) diet, touching my face still makes me find something (usually not even a pimple) and want to scratch at it and bother with it. I will always be a picker. The trick is to avoid your triggers, and avoid the circular reasoning that gets you into a picking state. Picking is self-mutilation just like cutting or burning yourself. It is never beneficial. There is no "good picking" or "bad picking". It is all destructive and harmful to your beauty, your skin, and your sense of self-worth. When you pick your skin you are telling yourself that you are worthless, that you are ugly, that you don't deserve love, that you don't deserve to be beautiful, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because by the time you are finished, you are on the outside how you feel on the inside. You must find a way to love yourself. I affirm myself daily that I am beautiful and that I deserve love and beauty in my life, whether I feel like it or not. You don't need to do the exact same affirmation or anything, but find a way to tell yourself that you love yourself. Self-hatred and self-destruction are powerful and caustic emotions to carry around all the time. Love is the first step.

Good luck to you, and PM me if you find yourself in a bad state and need to talk.



Suffered from acne as a young adult that went into remission when put on hormonal birth control. Went off the HBC around age 22 and the acne returned with a vengeance (along with a host of other hormonal complaints). 100% clear with a modified diet that excludes dairy, sugars, grains, citrus and cured meats and emphasizes whole food-based nutrition from both plant and animal sources, most notably organ meats like liver and juiced whole vegetables. I have included a recipe for the most helpful juice I have come up with for skin complaints. I drink it every day, and it is invaluable for acne due to the large amounts of vitamin A (carotenoids) from both the carrots and beets. It also helps improve your coloring if you are very fair, giving you a pinkish, more radiant look (not orange. Don't worry!).

Magic Juice

In a juicer, combine:

5-6 carrots

1 medium beet

2-3 stalks of celery

1 small apple (Green is preferred. Omit if you are very sugar-sensitive)

1 small (1inch) piece of ginger (optional, but good for digestion)

This makes a variable amount of juice depending on the size of the vegetables you use.

Drink this throughout the morning until it's gone. Store in the fridge not longer than one day.

Having perfectly clear skin on my wedding day was worth all the headache and effort of figuring out how diet affects acne!


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