How to Stop Picking Your Lips, According to 6 People Who’ve Done it

Remember one of these tips next time you're tempted to peel.

Life is full of stressful moments, and we’ve all got different ways of coping with them. Unfortunately, some methods are a little less healthy than others. I’ve picked at my lips as long as I can remember. I’m not sure what initially triggered my lip picking, but it’s become a bad habit that I turn to whenever I’m feeling anxious or stressed. Even though I know that I’ll be left with lips that burn or even bleed, I continue to do it anyway. 

I’m certainly not alone. For many people, lip picking may begin as a bad habit, but it can develop into a disorder, depending on the severity of the picking. According to SkinPick, lip picking is another form of compulsive skin picking. The International OCD Foundation even suggests that “People with skin picking disorder are more likely than people without it to have OCD and other OC spectrum disorders.” 

If you’re a lip picker hoping to stop, rest assured that there are treatment options available. While it’s always best to consult a professional, especially if the behavior is affecting your daily life, we asked some former and current lip pickers how they deal with their habit. Figuring out what works for you may take some trial and error, but here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started.

1. I drink water instead.

Ashley*, 42, describes her lip picking as a terrible cycle that usually begins with a lack of hydration. The lack of hydration then leads to chapped lips, which can trigger the picking. “I am trying to train myself to drink water in the same moments when I used to fidget destructively,” she tells HelloGiggles. While she still has her bad days, she says this tactic has definitely helped.

2. I meditate to relieve stress.

Diana Gutierrez, 27, says meditating using the Insight Timer meditation app haas helped her avoid lip picking. As skin picking, including lip picking, can be correlated to mental health disorders, maintaining low levels of stress and anxiety can reduce the need to pick your lips. 

3. I exfoliate my lips.

Melody Gomez, 33, says that her habit of picking her lips is a reaction to stress. “I’ve been a picker since I was a kid! I have a scar on my top lip that will never go away,” she reveals. However, Gomez says that using an exfoliating glove in the shower prevents her from picking her lips. After exfoliating, she applies A+D ointment

4. I over-moisturize my lips.


Caylin, 23, has found that keeping her lips moisturized daily has been a total game-changer for her lip picking. She’s been enjoying cocokind’s Moisture Stick, in particular. “I [moisturize my lips] on a daily basis, multiple times a day, unless I’m so stressed that I forget,” she tells HelloGiggles. She adds that by keeping her lips moisturized, there’s no dry skin to peel. 

5. I chew gum instead.

Karla, 27, oftentimes finds herself absentmindedly picking her lips, but “chewing gum [instead] has helped a lot,” she says. This way, she’s able to distract herself from the urge to pick at her lips. She finds it’s best to carry gum with her at all times so that she’s able to substitute the picking with chewing a piece of gum, no matter where she is. 

6. I apply oil on my lips.

Gaby Dias, 25, has been using Monat Rejuvenique Oil on her lips to keep them hydrated. “I’m not sure if it’s stress-related but it is a bad habit,” she says about her lip picking. “So now when I notice them getting to that [dry] stage, I apply this oil my cousin gave me… I see the results quickly.” Lip balms may not work for everyone, so turning to an oil may provide more effective relief.  

*Name has been changed for privacy.