ACNE STRUGGLERS – What You May Be Doing Wrong For Your Skin!

Hello ladies and gents, I’m sure you know me…

Wait, you don’t? Well … FUUUU!

I’m just kidding, I’m four cups of coffee in and the electric sass is REAL. My caffeine addiction aside however I’d like to talk to you today about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart as it has been a life-long struggle for me ever since I was very, very young.

That issue is having acne prone skin.

Whether it’s little lumps, blackheads, boils, cystic pimples – what have you, I’ve struggled with all of it at one point or another, and for a long time I thought the only thing I could do was cover it up with makeup and hope it didn’t rain. For most of my high school days I wore foundation every day to hide my shame, and on the days I didn’t, I walked with my head down in utter shame and hoped no one looked at me. It was awful and it fucked my self esteem up its tiny, tight pancake booty without any lube. Once I got older and came into my own money, I began trying every acne-prone product on the market, from cleansers to spot treatments and even extracting tools.

I figured having acne prone skin meant I needed the harshest, acne killing products that I could afford: acne cleanser, salicylic moisturizer, acne-prone toner, acne clearing solution, and spot treatment. Sounds like an army fit to fight acne right?


What I didn’t know back then was that being acne prone didn’t mean that there was only one issue to be addressed; in my time of using super harsh products, my skin became irritated, dried out, and actually worsened my acne problem. Sure, I had no more little red bumps anymore, but I began getting under-the-skin cystic pimples that would turn into monstrous boils once they rose to the top of the skin. It was brutal. At that point, I couldn’t even put on foundation because of how patchy and dry my skin was. Plus, how to you cover Pluto with concealer?

It wasn’t until I began reading into the issue further that I realized that a lot of acne sufferers aren’t just dealing with acne issues: they’re dealing with....


Not only that, but a lot of them are actually doing too much to treat their acne. At this point in my life I’ve finally, FINALLY found a regimen that works for my sensitive, acne prone skin, and I am going to share that regimen with you today long with some helpful tips and facts about treating finicky acne. Hopefully somebody out there finds this helpful. Even if you don’t necessarily have acne prone skin, everybody gets a zit or two once in a blue moon so you still may find some tips that work for you. Because we've all been at the point where we feel like....
ACNE STRUGGLERS – What You May Be Doing Wrong For Your Skin!!*I should mention also that all of the products mentioned in this take are bolded for those who are interested in checking them out. It should go without saying that I am a lowly G@G editor and am not endorsed by these product companies as I am sure they don't even know that I exist. With that said let us get to the take.*

Cleanse Gently but FIRMLY

You do not need the harshest of the harsh cleansers, nor do you need to scrub your skin raw in order to clear up your face. In fact, dermatologists recommend that you do not over process the skin as it can strip away the skin’s protective layers, irritate pores and rob the skin of valuable oils that actually HELP keep your skin healthy. People have the misconception that acne is caused by “dirt”, when in reality it’s caused by access skin cells, increases in IGF-1 & testosterone, over production of oil/sebum, abnormal growth of the skin lining the hair follicle, bacteria, over processing, etc. So throw away this concept of dirt getting in your skin, because as the saying goes: “If dirt caused acne you’d have it on your hands and feet.”

It’s recommended that you use a gentle, PH balanced daily cleanser instead of an overbearing acne cleanser, but let’s be real: that won’t work for people who have really bad acne. What I personally find works for me is having two cleansers going at the same time.

I have a large bottle of extra gentle daily cleanser (I use Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser) and then I have a bottle of that bad ass cleanser with the benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid in it. Specifically, I use Murad Acne Clearing Cleanser OR (if I don’t feel like ordering it) Spectro AcneCare Wash. What I essentially do is use my gentle cleanser every day, and only use my turbo-acne fighting cleansers when I have a flare up. Even then, I’ll typically only use it once a day to avoid excessive drying, unless my flare up is really bad. In my experience, gentle cleansing of the face works a lot better than using harsher products because it minimizes irritation (which can worsen redness and inflammation) and it reduces unnecessary dryness while still removing impurities in the skin.

Avoid Picking & Popping MOST of the Time

Yes, I get it: as a sufferer of OCD I know how hard it can be to leave pimples alone, and sometimes, you get those stubborn pimples that will NOT go away until you pop them and treat them. I get it, I don’t expect anybody to have the willpower to leave their acne alone 100% of the time, but you should ideally aim to leave it alone 90% of the time.

It should go without saying that popping pimples can only further irritate them and spread germs and bacteria around your skin which can encourage new pimples. Not to mention the risk of dilated pores and scarring – which doesn’t equal out to an even complexion to say the least.

If you can help it, avoid popping and picking as much as possible. But, if you give into the urge, make sure to properly clean the area and then use a spot treatment or something of the like to deal with the repercussions.

Tone & Moisturize

It isn’t just as easy as washing away the gunk unfortunately, you need a full regimen to keep your skin from flaring up or becoming dried out. Plus, as an acne sufferer, you likely have issues with say: dullness, enlarged pores, oil, etc. A proper moisturizer and toner can help with all of these issues. Try to take into account what kind of skin you have and what you use as a daily cleanser: if you already use a ton of acne-medicated products, you can always benefit from something a little gentler, like toner and moisturizer made for sensitive skin. Remember, it isn’t about the harshest of the harsh; it’s about nourishing your skin. However if you find you need the extra protection then you can use a toner that is specifically geared towards acne prone skin, as it’ll likely contain a low concentration of salicylic acid.

Now, whatever moisturizer you choose, I suggest that no matter what, it contains sunscreen of at least SPF 15 to protect your skin. I personally use Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer with SPF 15 for combination-oily skin. However, you could also consider a moisturizer that also treats uneven skin tone or dark spots to help with that redness and scarring.

For toner I personally bounce around depending on how my skin is behaving, but a few that I like to use are: the Neutrogena Pore Refining toner and the Burt’s Bees Rose Water & Glycerin toner.

Exfoliate with CAUTION

Exfoliating is essential for the skin, and not just the skin on your face; if you are a sufferer of body acne and clogged hair follicles, body exfoliation is a great way to treat it. But, for this take, we’re focusing on the face.

There are many ways to exfoliate the face: exfoliating cleansers, chemical exfoliants, exfoliating pads, and of course costly cleansing tools. Whatever your preferred method is, exfoliating provides you one benefit: the removal of dead/dry skin cells and impurities (blackheads & hard deposits). The problem acne prone individuals can run into with exfoliating is over-exfoliating to try and quicken the results of impurity removal. This is a problem because it can actually damage and strip away layers of the skin and cause serious irritation and even encourage new pimples. So, limit your exfoliating to a maximum of 3 days a week. Now if you’re using a cleansing tool like the Clarisonic, then opt up for a gentle daily brush head instead of an exfoliating one if you plan to use it every day and follow the recommended use instructions provided.

Other than that, for your typical methods just remember: small circular motions and a little patience to take your time and do er’ slowly, because your skin isn’t your enemy – it’s like your perfect girlfriend that turns into a colossal bitch when she’s on her period; she just needs some TLC, a little patience and understanding, and she’ll calm the fuck down if you treat her right.

I personally have been using a combination of an exfoliating anti-aging cream (the name escapes me) and Saint Ives Apricot Scrub.

Treat Sparingly

I am a sucker for a good quick-fix for surprise pimples, don’t get me wrong, but even spot-treatments and things of the like can be abused and cause you further guff. They’re concentrated formulas meant to rapidly reduce pimple size and redness, which is wonderful, but like all acne fighting medication they can irritate and dry out your skin if you use them too much. Besides, I don’t know about other chicks, but I almost feel like if I overuse a spot treatment that its effectiveness will diminish.

So I recommend that you only use spot treatment on those stubborn pimples once a day, preferably at the end of the night after you’ve completed your regimen. This way, you’re more likely to leave the pimple alone and hyper-focus on how quickly the solution is working. My personal favorite spot treatments are the Clean & Clear Acne Spot Treatment and the Murad Acne Spot Treatment.

Now, I’m sure most of you are thinking: holy shit RJ, that is a ton of fucking products, I can’t afford that nor do I have the patience to take all of these steps. Isn’t there an easier way?

Well, for some, maybe. I know from personal experience that I don’t NEED to tone or spot treat every day, and that a cleanser and good moisturizer is often enough for me to be good with my skin. I personally take the extra steps however as it not only yields better results, but the results are more long lasting and preventative.

Also, if you are young and you can’t afford the products that I personally use, you don’t have to worry. There are a lot of affordable brands that you can get that won’t cost an arm and a leg, just keep in mind the types of products I suggested and find what works best for you. Other than that, my final tip for this take is simple but important:


Keep up with your regimen and you will see results sooner than later, just do your best not to get lazy and I promise you that a difference will be noticeable. Just keep at it until you get comfortable with the daily grind of fighting acne crime (ha) and you will not regret it.

That is my time for today though G@Gers, as always I hope you have a great week and I am excited to see your input.


Most Helpful Guy

  • Ever since I was 16 I've had acne. Most of it has always been on my back and shoulders. I've been on prescribed medications but never worked. Actually this week I said "fuck it I am so done with this" when I knew it wasn't going to be leaving anytime in the next several years and it was really beginning to affect my exercise.(It's hard to hold a barbell on your shoulders when it feels like knives from your pimples and cysts being crushed) and talked to the derm and I'm just going to go on accutane.


Most Helpful Girl

  • I liked reading your tips, all of the above are helpful and I really like your tips of consistency and being mindful of being too harsh on sensitive skin. Very easy and common mistakes. I'm a skincare nut and a medical student so I find it fun to experiment too since I've had troubled skin for a decade and a half. I would add the tips
    1) The first step to dealing with troubled skin over a long period of time is acceptance and being realistic. You have to accept that you may be one of the ones who never has normal skin and may never but you can reach realistic goals of good improvement which is worth working on. And being satisfied with every step is important.
    2) Figure out your skin type and main problems and always be aware of this. It should govern what products you try and your assessment of efficacy. Dry, oily, combination. On top of that, like you said, figure out if your skin is sensitive. Do you have redness, enlarged pores, scarring, uneven tone, etc. All it can take is one product to lessen the effect of other good ones.
    3) Environment control. Wash pillowcases/towels at least 1x week. Wash makeup brushes regularly if use them a lot. Consider a silk pillowcase... gentler on the skin and makes you look more glowing when you wake up. If you have body acne, avoid wearing the same shirt twice. I have never heard of anyone else doing this but myself, but before I apply any skincare product to my skin I use hand santizer if I didn't just wash my hands. Minimizing bacteria's contact with my face.
    4) Internal control. Allergies? Control with non-drowsy antihistamines. Allergies have plenty of facial manifestation that can make acne look worse. Drink lots of water. More than 6-8 glasses, I mean like 10 glasses is gold. And certain foods like apples and cucumbers are over 90% water. Figure out if certain foods trigger acne, everyone is different. Hormonal acne? (neck-jawline-lower cheek around period)--> consider medications like oral contraceptives, spironolactone, or a non-prescribed saw palmetto (meant for prostate issues in men but it targets the same enzyme that causes hormonal acne). Exercising regularly.
    5) Be wary if certain products you use for other things may come in the way of acne. Like, shampoo. Certain shampoos contain ingredients that are irritating. If someone has
    6) Vitamins and other supplements. I recommend B complex, vitamin E, zinc, and fish oil tablets daily.
    7) EXPERIMENT! Be willing to spend. Acne is individual.


Join the discussion

What Guys Said 11

  • Acne is caused by your skin producing too much oil which causing pores to clog. High levels of testosterone increases DHT, which increases the body's oil production. That's why steroid users can get lots of acne if they aren't careful.

    The two best treatments are B5 and isotretinoin.

    B5 is cheap and does not require a prescription, but the results are acute (meaning they are short term, lasting only a day or two after the last dose).

    Isotretinoin is pretty cheap as well ( ~$100 dollars for a 6 month supply), however it requires a prescription and depending on your doctor and which product manufacturer he prescribes you it can end up costing a lot more than $100. The results however are usually permanent, just take 1 pill every other day for 6 months and most or all of your acne will be gone.

    Isotretinoin has been linked to liver damage, depression, and in some cases thoughts of suicide, however in the past doctors were per prescribing doses way too high. Some doctors were prescribing as much as 120mg every day, however recent studies have shown that 20mg every other day has been show to eliminate most acne after 6 months with little or no side-effects.

  • If anyone is struggling with acne in the UK, don't bother with OTC medicines, in my experience they hardly work. Instead book an appointment with your GP and get Duac (prescribed dermatological cream) or Trimethoprim tablets.
    If THESE don't fully clear up the acne in about 6 months (and chances are they will), then go back to your GP and get prescribed Roaccutane (isotretinoin). These are hardcore tablets (which I am on at the moment) which will pretty much guarantee permanently clear skin in 6 months. They do have a whole load of side effects though, so I wouldn't recommend unless you were desparate.

  • Wow, what a post! Thanks, it is very informative! I could say a lot on this topic, but I'd prefer to share a great blog about acne, pimples, warts and other skin diseases , one could find all the answers here.

  • Can confirm most of this shit is right, I got acne all over my back when I started doing performance enhancers and I freaked out because I didn't wanted my mom to know about it lol I over did products and ended up with fukd up dry back. I had to wait two weeks and start all over again after some antibiotic course. Then I just rubbed some oil on it and used Avon, that worked and fixed it in like 2 months.

  • I was lucky with acne but your take is very informative and educational - The one point that stands out is the stop yourself picking and popping, I think that must be so hard for people.

  • Back/chest acne sucks though.

  • I've only dealt with a small amount of blackheads on my nose. Even with that your advise sounds like exactly what works.

  • I had a lot of acnes but i get rid of them right now. I used all things that you write whem you didn't write it. They are some good advices. Good mytake.

  • Did you know that most acne is actually caused by eating unhealthy food such as pizza?

  • I had a lot of acne until last year but I solved problem using roaccutane

  • veganism without processed foods. enough said. skin health changes internally not externally.


What Girls Said 7

  • One of the best things for your face is Water! Drink lots of it!

  • I got rid of my acne with accutane. I had severe cystic hormonal acne 6 months ago.

  • I pick at my face every day, and it's fine. I know you aren't supposed to touch your face, but I have OCD when it comes to picking at skin. I have to do it. It makes me feel better, for unknown reasons, and I enjoy picking at it.

    Recently I've been trying to get over a fear of mine. I was always afraid that putting lotion of your face would "clog your pores" and cause breakouts. For years I treated my face and would NEVER moisturize it. I'm still worried I'll get acne from it, but I'll continue to use lotion once a day...

    The acne treatment I use dries my face out a lot, to the point where I STOPPED wearing "make-up" in middle school. (Make-up has quotes around it because the only thing I ever used was a basic cover-up type thing. Whatever you call it!) The only reason I put something on my face then was because the acne made me feel really insecure (hardly anyone has it in middle school, which made me the "weird" one). It got to a point where my face was PEELING in the middle of the day. The skin became too dry, and it looks terrible when people try to put makeup over acne anyway. I finally realized that.
    I just use 1 face wash product in the shower (I don't shower every day, so I might go 2-5 days without using it), and a random lotion I found in the bathroom. Thankfully my acne has never been terrible, but I do have a TON of blackheads from 4th grade. They got under my skin really deep, and it almost looks like my nose has freckles. If I pick at them it leaves a scar.

  • best acne treatment: cut out processed foods and excess fructose. not only will your skin clear up, it won't break out again. ;)

    • You can also cut dairy products it works wonderful ! I've never had a lot of acne (just a pimple sometimes) but since I went vegan my skin has never been so beautiful !

    • @FrenchEmma I'm vegan as well. had perfect skin in high school! then a few years ago started breaking out like crazy. finally realized it was from certain foods I started eating a lot of.

    • Oh well thanks for the advice ! So good to meet vegan people;)

  • Greeeeat take!!!
    This is how I do mine 😬😬👏
    Brightening cleansing gel, cause I didn't realize that my acne caused dark spots that made it look worse.
    Then I put about 3ml of Dermapolish mixed with about 5ml of the cleansing gel, mix it in a little cup with like a few drops of water and wash my face with it..

    Basically the Dermapolish is a microexfoliator. And it chips away the pigmented dark spots...

    Then while washing my face with the "mixture" I add a little bit of water everytime I feel the mixture becoming sticky. Or less foamy :) :)

    I soak my facial wash cloth in HOT HOT water and wipe all the left over cleansing mix off. And moisturize with Vitamin B cream 😬

    Basically what I think is that people with Acne problems should have a skin analysis. And then they can see what the actual problem is. Cause sometimes the acne is just a reaction. Like mine, I didn't know my skin was oily until I used the samples and saw the results.

  • That shit is too expensive to keep up with. I'd rather just get acne than go broke, which I do.

  • Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar works best as a toner. Olive oil also does great as a moisturizer for acne prone skin. For clearing up acne try applying honey (raw prefered!) twice a week. These is my personal regimen for acne.