Why You Should Stop Picking Your Lips

We all have those bad beauty habits that we can't help but give in to. I've never been a nail biter, but I can't resist picking and peeling at my lips when they're dry and chapped. And I never really thought much of it until recently when I heard that picking at your lips is bad for you. I don't know why I didn't realize it sooner; I know that picking at my face is bad. But picking at my lips always seems harmless enough: there's a flake of skin that I know will stand out if I swipe a lipstick over it, and it's dead anyway, so I peel it off to reveal smooth lips.

The only problem is that this begins a vicious cycle of drying lips and picking at dead skin. This is because peeling off that skin is like peeling off a scab before it's ready to go. It can actually make the dryness worse, and even prolong healing time and do long-term harm. So if picking only exacerbates the problem, it may feel like lips are never truly soft and smooth, and picking is the only option. But it isn't. If you can break the cycle by using one or a combination of these treatments, your lips will thank you for it.

1. Choose Your Moisturizer Carefully


Some ingredients that are commonly found in lip balms, like menthol or camphor, can be irritating to cracked or damaged lips. Instead, try beeswax, shea butter, or even plain coconut oil to help restore moisture to lips.

2. Know What You're Allergic To

Some ingredients in cosmetics, fragrances, and even toothpaste could be causing your dry, chapped lips. Try to take notice if your lips become especially flaky after using certain products. If you find that it is the case, eliminate the product from your routine, and try to avoid others with the same allergens.

3. Eat Healthy

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Chapped and cracked lips could also be a sign that you're dehydrated or lacking some nutrients. Make sure you're drinking enough water everyday, and getting enough vitamins and minerals to keep your skin healthy, smooth, and soft.

However, it is also important to realize how serious of a problem lip-picking is for you. Depending on the frequency and severity of lip-picking, it could actually be a sign of Excoriation disorder (a common psychological disorder characterized by compulsive skin-picking that can lead to even accidental self-harm). If this is the case, here are some other options to help you stop.

1. Keep Track Of Your Triggers

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Try to notice when you pick (the act can often be subconscious). What were you thinking or doing at the time? Something that made you nervous, anxious, or concerned? Keeping track of what triggers your picking could help you learn when to engage alternative coping mechanisms.

2. Try Some Exercises

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Keeping your lips engaged through various movements such as repeatedly pursing them will help keep you aware of them, and your fingers away from them.

3. Find Other Distractions

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However, it can be extremely helpful to have something to occupy your hands so that they can't just idly pick. Especially if you know your triggers, having something for your hands to do, like knitting, during these times can help redirect your nervous, anxious, etc. energy.

4. Ask For Help Or Support

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Let someone you trust know that you want to stop picking, and let them help encourage your behavior change whether it's just through listening or actively stopping you when you're about to pick. Don't be afraid to seek out professional help either, if you feel something like habit-reversal training or behavioral-acceptance therapy will be more beneficial to you.

Images: Miki Hayes (2)