I don’t know why everything is coming to me in fives lately. This is the third post in the past week that’s been a five pointer. I’m starting to get embarrassed. Ah well, I supposed there’s no harm in it. I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’ve struggled with breakouts in the past few years. It well and truly stinks because it’s something that has the capacity to demolish your self esteem. The silver lining is that I’ve accumulated a decent amount of knowledge about how to fight these loathsome breakouts I speak of. 

1. Up the hygiene levels: brushes, pillow cases and towels
Having good hygiene seems like an obvious point, but actually there are a few things that I think are easy to miss. First off, it’s important to wash makeup brushes regularly. I think a good shampooing once a week is ideal. I also like to touch up my brushes in between shampoos with a quick drying brush cleaner. I’ve been really impressed with The Pro Hygiene Collection Makeup Brush Cleaner. Additionally, I’ve heard so many stories of people clearing up their acne by using a fresh pillow case every night. It makes sense when you think about it – you’re lying your face against a piece of cloth for 8 hours every night. If it’s covered in bacteria it’s bound to break you out. Same goes for washing towels. It’s good to use a fresh face cloth every day.

2. Remove your makeup ASAP
Brands always claim that their products are noncomedogenic, but I just don’t buy it. I’ve seen people’s skin clear up dramatically when they lay off the foundation. If you’re struggling with acne I think it’s a good idea to let your skin breathe whenever possible. Try to remember to take your makeup off as soon as you come home from work and give your skin a little break from a full face of makeup on the weekends if you can.

3. Use a hydrating cleanser
So many acne treatment kits come with soapy, foaming cleansers. I can’t understand why. First off, soap based products are alkaline and bacteria grows in an alkaline environment. Secondly, foaming cleansers dry out your skin. Seeing as acne treatments also tend to have a drying effect, the last thing you want to do is be drying out your skin in the cleansing stage. I like to use a gentle cream cleanser, such as The Body Shop Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser, in the morning and an oil based cleanser, such as Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, in the evening.

4. Find the right treatment
Well isn’t that the most annoying bit of advice? Unfortunately there is no simple answer here. Finding the right treatment can take a lot of experimentation. Generally, a lot of people have success using a salicylic acid treatment, such as the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliation, twice a day. If that’s not enough it might be worth adding a benzoyl peroxide and/or a retinol treatment to the mix. I use all three at different times myself because I find they work well together to exfoliate and kill bacteria. If you’re still feeling unsure about your overall acne skincare routine, it may be worth taking a look at this cheat sheet from r/skincareaddiction as it lays out some good options without any trendiness attached.

5. Improve your lifestyle
No one wants to hear this point, but it’s true. Stress, poor diet, smoking and drinking can have a negative effect on your skin. It’s crazy how much worse my skin got when my anxiety levels were especially high. In terms of diet, it’s worth thinking about how much sugar you’re consuming. Sugar feeds bad bacteria, which can provide a nice feast for whatever nasties are trapped in your skin wreaking havoc. Also, keep in mind that non-fibrous foods such as white bread or pasta are essentially processed by your body as sugar.

  • Nice tips! I don't struggle with breakouts in particular, but my guy has been lately for the first time in years and we can't figure out why! Like you said, it definitely takes a toll on your self esteem, no cool acne…not cool.

  • These points are all so accurate. I really need to make more of an effort with cleaning my face, particularly with toner. And as much as I hate to admit it, stress definitely affects my skin. I need to work out a way to deal with that!

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn

  • Great tips! I definitely have to improve my lifestyle. My diet definitely plays a huge roll in how my skin is looking.

    xx angela | the sunday chapter

  • All of these tips are so accurate, I'm pretty surprised how one day of eating too much processed sugar can lead to bad skin although I suppose I expect it now!

    Jodie // La Lune Song

  • So nice advice I see there. I don't necessarily struggle with acne, but sometimes my skin just gets very upset. I suspect it's more hormonal than anything else, but anyway I'm sure I can benefit from most of the things you've outlined here. Thank you very much!

  • These points are all so relevant and great advice – I just wish I was thorough enough to actually wash my makeup brushes once a week .. meh. About treatments, I think tea tree oil is great for clearing up blemishes .. same as LUSH Grease Lightning, it has tea tree oil in it but isn't as harsh as the pure oil! 🙂

    TanjaWhatsername x

  • I find I need something stronger than tea tree oil for my skin, but it's an awesome natural way to do it if it does work. I have been using it to disinfect my piercing though. Plus the smell is so good.

  • Hormones are jerks. They're super annoying because there's only ever so much you can do for your skin when hormones are the cause.

  • It's also crazy how much something can affect one person but not affect another… like how some people can eat junk all day and they have gorgeous clear skin. Why!?

  • I know. Stress is a real challenge in life. It's one of those things that if you can manage it you will be healthier in so many ways, but learning to manage it is so hard. I'm trying to figure it out now, but damn, it's going to be a long process.

  • Not cool at all. That sucks. There's always the possibility of it being some kind of dietary reaction too I suppose. But that's a huge pain to try to figure out. Or is he getting any symptoms of rosacea?

  • I've suffered from acne since middle school and i still have a few here and there. These tips are awesome though! Great post! #5 I feel like is probably the most relevant. You need to take care of yourself internally first.


  • No, not yet anyway! I'm assuming it's dietary, but we haven't really changed anything lately (sans Christmas food) so it is quite the mystery!

  • I've had some trouble with my skin this year and as soon as I started using the Paula's Choice Exfoliating Treatment my skin started clearing up! I'm so happy I found something that truly works for me.


  • I need to get my skincare routine back on track. Over the past couple of weeks my skin has gone down hill, will definitely be trying out some of these points x


  • Although this information seems like common sense, this is exactly what many people who want to fight acne should read! It's so insightful and very smartly written. I love that you explained exactly why soaps are a bad idea, and I know it knocked some much-needed sense into me. I'll definitely be looking back to this when I need inspiration to wash my face, rather than just go to bed with makeup on.

  • Cutting out dairy has helped my skin immensely, and I notice less sugary stuff has helped reduce the number of breakouts too. I really need to up my game in terms of washing my brushes and changing pillowcases! Sadly, I'm just super lazy 😛 And I LOVE taking off my makeup the moment I get home. It feels so refreshing.

    Sheri | Behind The Frames

  • I have been struggling with bad acne for years now and I agree with all these tips! (even if I think I might be tricky to change your pillowcase every single day)



  • I'm mostly ok for all of the points except for #1: I think I need to change my towels and pillow cases more than once a week…
    Ivory Avenue