Acne is one of those complex things to get rid of. A ton of different factors could be at fault. It could be what you eat, your skin care routine, what touches your face…the list goes on! I’ve been doing tons of trial and error to try and get to the core of the problem. I’ve nailed down the key factors, and now I FINALLY have clearer skin than I’ve had in a decade. There are days I have ZERO bumps, all without expensive treatments or Accutane. My hope is that this sparks some ideas for you guys and helps you get clearer skin too.

First Offender: My Hair Products

Products or oil in your hair can easily clog your pores. I’ve noticed that since hair products aren’t really “skin care” products, I’ll find pore-clogging ingredients in them more often. It’s a shame, considering your hair touches your face so often. If you notice bumps around your hairline, or if you have bangs and get bumps on your forehead, there’s a chance it’s something in your hair products (including shampoo/conditioner). This also causes problems when you sleep. If you notice bumps on the side of your cheeks or jaw, it could very well be from sleeping on a pillowcase covered in oils and hair products. I’m sure a few of you have heard the “change your pillowcase every day” tip. Well, I don’t want to keep 7 pillowcases around, so I use this hack:

I sleep on the pillowcase for 2 days, then, I flip the pillow around 180 degrees so it’s still the same side up, but now my face is on the opposite edge of the pillowcase. Then, after another 2 days, I’ll flip the pillow over like normal (so the underside is now on top). Then, after 2 days, I’ll do the 180 degree flip again. This method is like having 4 fresh pillowcases. Even if you don’t remember to strictly stick to this schedule, loosely following it should help you out.

Second Offender: Dairy

Anytime I consume too much dairy, I get big, red, mound-shaped bumps that are hard to get rid of. Fortunately, I’m able to tolerate a small amount. Having cream in my coffee doesn’t give me problems, but drinking a whole glass of chocolate milk several days in a row does.

I thought I’d have to drastically reduce the dairy I eat in order to have clear skin, but I discovered that eating COOKED dairy cooked DOESN’T cause me problems! Maybe the hormones in the dairy are being “disrupted” by the cooking process? I don’t know, but thank goodness I can still eat pizza and cheese crackers!

Soy actually gives me similar problems upon consuming too much in one sitting. Soymilk and tofu were the particular culprits for me. The idea was to replace my beloved chocolate milk with chocolate soymilk, which tasted good, but unfortunately caused problems.

Third Offender: Hydrogenated Oils

My mom is the person who discovered this one. Eating too much food with partially hydrogenated oils (and regular/fully hydrogenated) not only leads to me getting acne, they’re also very unhealthy to consume. Luckily, partially hydrogenated oils are getting phased out! Hooray! 

You can usually find these oils lurking in your local bakery (dangit) or pizza restaurant (DANGIT). Luckily, they’re less common in foods at grocery stores and you also have easier access to the ingredient list there. Don’t worry, I found that food without this oil tastes exactly the same!

Fourth Offender: It Wasn’t Really Acne

Sometimes, I get bumps that look like acne except they itch instead of hurt. What’s weird about these bumps is that if I don’t spot treat them, they can turn into regular acne. If I do spot treat them, they’ll get more itchy and inflamed. These usually occur when I use something with an ingredient I’m hypersensitive to OR when I dry out my skin too much. Itchiness, tingliness, redness, or burning shouldn’t happen when using acne treatments. These are actually signs of damage. Previously, I was using toners with irritants like menthol, fragrance, and alcohol denat, and those make skin more irritated and dry. 

In order to get rid of these bumps, I started treating them with a 1% salicylic acid treatment that ALSO soothes and hydrates. I pile on a thick layer of this treatment each night on the itchy bumps. While they don’t 100% disappear in one night, they do reverse direction.

As long as I stay away from these offenders, I experience clear skin. Of course, it’s hard to completely avoid each factor 100% of the time, but I’m happy to say I no longer feel hopeless about my skin.


Thank you so much for reading. If you have questions or comments, scroll down to submit them. <3