My Dirty Little Secret

I get a lot of compliments on my skin. I am asked how I achieve my healthy glow and I am told I don’t “look my age”. I get asked what I do and what I use, and so I will share my regimen with you today.

But I have a secret. A nasty habit that I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. A habit I am not proud of. Something that has consumed my time, attention and energy for far too long. Something that has had an impact on my life even though it may seem silly to some; yet, I KNOW others will be able to relate.

I have been working really hard to break free from this habit and I’ve developed some tools and strategies to lessen its impact as well as some ways of dealing with it.

Today, I’m sharing it with you. And I am going to share the strategies I use that have helped me manage it better. I am also sharing the next Challenge I am offering (for free!) that I would love you to join in on, and I serve up a yummy fall soup recipe that I think you will love.

So, here it is.

My dirty little secret.

You see, I pick my face.

There. I said it.

And maybe you pick your face, too.

It started when I was a teenager. I had decent skin but whenever I’d get a pimple, I couldn’t help but pick at it. Blackheads, whiteheads, those underground red bumps that hurt like a b*tch….nope, couldn’t leave them alone. And there was so much satisfaction that came with picking those pimples! So much relief from the pain and the pressure. So much pleasure from ridding my face of an ugly zit.

But then I’d be left with the aftermath. A face covered in red blotches and marks and blood. Most often, I’d be left feeling worse than when I began.

And here’s the worst part: I believe my compulsion for picking my face made me break out more.

First, there’s the bacteria all over my fingers as I squeezed away that would cause me to get more pimples. And second, I believe that energetically I was telling the universe that I loved picking zits so much that I was essentially asking for more zits to pick!

Although I don’t believe I suffer with Dermatillomania, also referred to as Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP) or neurotic excoriation, which are associated with obsessive compulsive disorder, I do think my skin picking results from my need for perfection.

A desire to have my skin appear flawless.

And this obsession has been a part of my life all the way until today. When I get a pimple, it is very, very hard for me to ignore it. Even if I’m nowhere near a mirror, I still find myself thinking about it. Obsessing over it.

But I am getting better. A LOT better.

And I want to share with you what has changed for me so that perhaps it can help you, if you are a skin picker, too.

What Changed?

First, I became aware of what I was doing. I had to acknowledge that picking my face was not a healthy habit.

Second, I had to be willing to change. I had to decide that picking my face was not going to help me achieve nice skin. In fact, I had to realize that picking my face made my skin look worse.

Third, I had to decide what I wanted.

I wanted nice skin!

So I had to define what “nice skin” meant to me. Yes, it meant clear, blemish-free skin, but nice skin to me also meant healthy skin, glowing skin, hydrated skin, taut skin, and it also meant redness-free skin and scab-free skin.

So it all started with changing my behaviour.

First up, ditching the magnifying mirror. If you are prone to picking, those mirrors have no place in our lives! They amplify every single imperfection and they had me picking at things that were barely even there.

Next, I had to realize that zits happen! And I had to realize that tiny little bumps were not a reason to spend 5 minutes picking away and turning them into massive red marks that I’d then have to use makeup to cover up. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was going to get pimples (everybody does!) and that if I stopped leaning in so close to the mirror to inspect my face, I could avoid a lot of pain and frustration about my skin.

I got into cleansing oil. It is amazing! It seemed counter-intuitive for someone like me to put oil on my face when I wanted to be “oil-free”, but the thing with facial oils is they help to replenish our skin’s moisture and they feel incredible! Personally, I use Woman Divine Cleansing Oils available in the owner’s studio in Ottawa or online. I interviewed Magdalena here if you’d like to learn more about her philosophy. Visit for the entire line, as I also use her rosewater mist and facial balm as part of my night time moisturizing routine.

Once in a while, I like using the Clarisonic, which really helped me see that I wasn’t removing nearly as much dirt and makeup with my fingers as I could with their device. The other great thing about the Clarisonic is I exercise my face while cleansing. They say that men often don’t experience as many facial wrinkles as women do because of the way they manipulate their face while shaving. So, while I am cleansing my face, I am also moving it to work my facial muscles.

Along that same line, doing facial exercises is a great way to keep skin taut, and there are loads of videos on Youtube teaching us how to do it. I usually keep it pretty simple, though, and essentially, all I do is over-exaggerate my vowels a few times for a skin-tightening effect.

During the day, I use Lemon Balm Lane‘s “Revive” Facial Lotion (sold online for $14 for the small container or $20 for the large). It contains all-natural oils and herbs that makes my skin feel amazing. I like it better than lotions I’ve spent over $100 on! I even use it under my eyes instead of buying a separate eye cream. I mix it in with my tinted moisturizer or foundation in my hands and apply to my skin. It blends perfectly and I get so many compliments about my “dewy glow”. The small one lasts about 6 months and the large a year, as you only need a small amount each time you apply. It is AMAZING. 

Once every few weeks, I do a clay mask. My friend Jessica got me on to this brand, but there are others. With this Aztec Clay mask, you add raw, organic apple cider vinegar and mix it up in a plastic bowl (not metal). It claims to make your face pulsate…and it does! It also leaves my skin feeling clean and purified with less inflammation.

The Lifestyle

From a lifestyle perspective, I quit smoking years ago, and as far as skin goes, there is almost nothing you can do that will improve the look of your skin the way quitting smoking will. Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients sent to your skin cells, so quitting will leave you with smoother, more supple skin.

I sought out ways to stay hydrated. Hydrated skin is a key to clear skin. When our skin is dehydrated, fine lines appear more visible and our skin produces sebum (oil) that can lead to breakouts. Here's how I stay hydrated:

I have been drinking water as my drink of choice since I was a teenager and I think it has had a huge impact on my skin over the years.  It is amazing the difference we can see when choosing water over pop or juice. Whenever I drink coffee (even decaf), I'm sure to follow it up with an extra glass of water to combat dehydration.

As you probably know, I gave up alcohol when I was 29, and this has improved the appearance of my skin tremendously. It is much more hydrated because of it, and if you are a drinker, consider cutting back and/or try adding in a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you have.

I eat nourishing foods that help keep my skin hydrated. Foods like olive oil (for the antioxidants), wild salmon (omega 3s), tomatoes (cook them to get the most skin-improving lycopene and eat them with a healthy fat like olive oil for best absorption), kale (vitamin C), walnuts (omega 3s), sweet potato and squash (beta-carotene). See my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Soup below!

Essentially, my diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and healthy whole grains. Think of any food that will rot in a few days on the counter. Those are the foods I eat as much as possible! Cereal, crackers, pasta, rice, white bread and any boxed foods have very little place in my diet and I know my skin thanks me for it.

While I do eat junk food now and again, I avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates as often as possible. Refined, sugary carbs prompt your body to make insulin and increase the production of hormones known as androgens. Elevated androgens cause sebaceous glands in the skin to secrete more oil that gets trapped inside pores, causing pimples.

I take fermented cod liver oil daily. I go into detail in my book, The 28 Day Kick The Sugar Challenge, but essentially this oil has improved my skin's tone and texture tremendously. My hair stylist also noticed my hair growing thicker and stronger!

Going for regular facials is a fantastic way to practice self-care (and reducing stress is a huge factor in having smooth, blemish-free skin), but a well done facial deeply cleanses and exfoliates the skin, increases circulation, reduces puffiness and fine lines and it also helps smooth and soften the skin. They will perform extractions professionally, which won't damage the skin. I highly recommend Magdalena of Woman Divine in Ottawa or look for a reputable organic facialist in your neck of the woods.

I exercise 6 days a week and enjoy my daily sweat sessions. Sweating is a great way we detoxify our bodies and it is known to unclog pores in our skin. I also get told I have a "healthy glow" and I attribute it largely to my diet and exercise regime.

I prioritize my sleep because it is great for my overall health and does wonders for my skin. I used to get very little sleep and it showed up as blotchy skin, breakouts, dark circles under my eyes and more visible fine lines and wrinkles. Certainly when I was a drinker, my quality of sleep was very poor. After I quit drinking, I have made a much greater effort to sleep more and to ensure a better quality sleep.

Life Today

Before, I would wake up and immediately inspect my face. Now, I simply splash cold water on my face (this wakes me up!) and head to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. I drink 2 cups (16 ounces) of warm lemon water as soon as I wake up to hydrate myself and I drink a smoothie that is chock full of skin-loving foods like cucumber, celery, kale, blueberries and hemp hearts (hemp is amazing for people with dry skin, psoriasis and eczema, as well).

When I get out of the shower, I stand back from the mirror as much as possible while applying my moisturizer and makeup. When I see a pimple (which, let's face it, I see at least one or two almost every single time I look in the mirror), I choose to acknowledge it and then decide to not pick it. It can be really hard at times, and I don't always succeed, but for the most part now, I leave it be. I say to myself "if it is worse tomorrow, I can pick it then." Most often, I can't even see it or it becomes noticeably better by the next day. I also treat the pimple, and I like Lemon Balm Lane's all natural acne fighting ointment called "Clear Face". It is different from any other acne treatment on the market as it is made from healing herbs and oils that prevent drying of the skin; instead, it heals the pimple by reducing redness, inflammation and infection.

I became more gentle on myself. I stopped looking at magazines with flawless faces and thinking this was in any way achievable! Having impeccable, pore-free skin simply isn't real life and any photographer will tell you this. I realized that I will get pimples and that it's ok to just dab a little concealer on them and get on with the day rather than spending time picking away and making them worse. If my goal is to have nice skin, I want to love it and nurture it and care for it and be gentle on it. It doesn't deserve to have me picking at it and hurting it and damaging it...all to look "perfect".

I had to really wake up to what I was doing.

And I'm so glad I did. I am a work in progress but I have gotten so much better at just "letting it go". I used to feel pain a lot in my face. Burning, rawness, hurt. I used to feel shame when I would pick and then see the damage I had done. I want to feel these feelings as infrequently as possible and one way I can do that is to stop hurting my face.

I hope this has helped you if you struggle with skin-picking or any other behaviour that doesn't serve you. It all starts with awareness, continues with a decision and then changes with healthier choices. So let's keep pushing ourselves to question all of our behaviours; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.


P.S. Let’s be friends! I’d love to connect on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. 

P.P.S. Here is my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Soup. I hope you use up all those squash and pumpkins at your house and make this soup! I hope you enjoy. 🙂

Pumpkin Pie Soup ~ Sarah Roberts

Why I make this: I love the smell of pumpkin pie. It’s so warm and comforting. This soup gives you all that comfort without the sugar! With only a couple of ingredients, it’s so easy and tasty, you’ll be getting up for seconds! Plus, your skin will be glowing thanks to all that beta carotene!

1 medium squash (I used I used a Kabocha Squash but you can use pretty much any orange fleshed squash --pumpkin, butternut, buttercup, hubbard etc).
2 Tablespoons organic unsalted butter
1 heaping Tablespoon coconut oil
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
Pinch of Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
Tiny Drizzle of pure maple syrup, optional


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Roast the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 30-40 minutes at 350°F (NOTE: Because the Kabocha squash is so tough, I roasted it whole. Then, I cut it in half, removed the seeds and proceeded with the recipe. Other squashes are easier to cut, so you can cut them in half before roasting and place them, cut side down on the baking sheet).
  3. Once the squash is roasted, remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh.
  4. Chop the flesh if it’s still somewhat firm.
  5. In a medium-large pot over medium heat, add the butter and sautée the squash.
  6. Add the coconut oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper and a good pinch of pumpkin pie spice.
  7. Continue to allow the squash to soften and caramelize slightly.
  8. Transfer the pumpkin to a blender and add in the almond milk.
  9. Blend on high for about one minute, and pour it back into the pot to warm through.
  10. Taste, and add a tiny drizzle of maple syrup, if desired, and any salt and pepper, as needed.

Voila! It is very tasty and rich. Nice and warming on a cold day.

NOTE: I am sure if I had sautéed one small, chopped onion with the squash, it would have added a depth of flavour, know me by now...I like to keep things pretty simple!

If you try this soup, I'd love your feedback!


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