Acne sucks and trying to get rid of acne also sucks.
It doesn’t matter if you are a teenager or an adult, trying to get rid of acne can be an extremely infuriating and expensive process.
There are thousands of products that guarantee to clear up your skin. However, in my experience, most of these products leave your skin irritated, dry, and NOT acne free. It took me years to learn how to care for my skin and to finally rid myself of acne.
The most tragic reason I struggled with acne for years was because I was using products to treat zits instead of taking a more holistic approach to prevent acne in the first place by removing the causes. Acne can be caused by sweat-clogged pores, bacteria, fungus or hormones and I have a tip in this post for every type of acne. I stopped using acne products and instead invested in products or changed my routines to prevent acne.
By following the advice in this article, not only did I get rid of acne, but my skin was also so much healthier and more vibrant. I love my skin now and I hope by sharing my most critical steps in having clear skin, you will also be on your way to beautiful acne free skin.
Stop Drying your Face with a Towel
I bet you didn’t see this tip coming and especially as my number one tip.
It doesn’t seem like this would be a big deal but using a towel to dry your face really is an absolute no. Towels are filled with bacteria since they live in the perfect damp environment in which bacteria thrive. In fact, a study showed 90% of bathroom towels contained bacteria. This means after you spend all that time washing your face you are probably literally drying it with bacteria. Washing them after every use helped but didn’t keep them bacteria free. While you probably won’t get sick from bacteria in your towel, it could be wreaking havoc on your skin.
I highly recommend you switch to air drying your face or to pat your skin dry with disposable biodegradable face cloths. When I am in a rush, I use the disposable cloths and when I have time, I let my skin airdry. After about 5 minutes, I coat my skin in a hydrating serum containing hyaluronic acid, which traps water into your skin.
The same goes for after a shower, I dry my body with a washed towel but let my face air dry. I then wash my towel before using it again. While we are on the subject, always put the toilet seat down before flushing so you aren’t aerosolizing bacteria, further contaminating your towels.
Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Face Mask
For some reason, I never knew fungus could cause acne. I also didn’t know it is a very common culprit for teenage acne, wish I had that knowledge years ago!
I happened upon this knowledge when I was going through a really bad dandruff phase. My scalp was so itchy, and I was breaking out a lot. The anti-dandruff shampoo I bought to fix the dandruff problem not only cleared my dandruff but also cleared my acne. I wanted to know if there was a connection. After some research, I learned that a lot of people have had success using anti-dandruff shampoos to get rid of acne. The most popular method was either i) washing your face with the shampoo or ii) applying a small amount as a face mask.
Anti-dandruff shampoos all have different active ingredients. The one that I used and found was very popular because it is so effective is the Nizoral Anti-dandruff shampoo.
Use a Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
While we are on the subject of shampoo, I have also learned that the products (not just your facewash) you use in the shower can affect your acne. Years ago, I was complaining to my hairdresser about skincare and how I just couldn’t seem to keep my skin clear. She mentioned that people always forget that the product they use on their hair can affect their skin. She told me when rinsing my hair try to keep the water off my face.
I am always willing to give something a try, so I bought the shampoo and used it for a week. The tea tree shampoo improved my complexion but what really surprised me was how much it helped to clear the acne on my back, which is where most of the shampoo and conditioner touch my skin.
It is still today my go-to shampoo because I am convinced it helps keep my skin clear. It also smells amazing. Nizoral also sells a tea tree oil shampoo, but my absolute favorite shampoo is the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo.
It has also helped my husband who isn’t into skincare and has zero interest in keeping up a skincare routine. He was willing to switch shampoo and it has helped keep his skin acne free for years.
Change out your pillowcase nightly
Take a moment and think about just how much time your skin spends touching your pillow. If you sleep around 8 hours a night, that means in one year you sleep 2,920 hours. That is 2,920 hours your skin is touching your pillow. Additionally, your skin sheds not only dead skin cells but saliva, sweat, dirt and oil into your pillowcase.
In fact, according to WebMD, a lab study found 17,000 more colonies of bacteria from swabbing pillowcases unwashed for a week than from swabbing a toilet seat. How disgusting is that?!
This means after taking the time to wash your face at night and apply as many creams as you can to give you beautiful skin, you are then sleeping for 8 hours with your skin pressed into a bacteria filled fabric.
Changing your pillowcase out every night will alone transform your skin. It is also not that expensive. A pack of 12 pillowcases is around $20 on Amazon. It is annoying to remember to do it but I just leave the clean pillowcases in my nightstand drawer and change it right before I get into bed.
Get a showerhead filter
You probably thought it couldn’t get any worse than your towel and pillowcase giving you acne. However, this one is just as important. The water you are washing your face with is also part of the problem.
When we lived in an area with hard water, my skin was always itchy, and my hair was dull. This is because the water is clean but there are still chemicals like chlorine, magnesium and calcium that can wreak havoc on your skin. I have a tip below on just how bad chlorine can be for your skin. In fact, the scum you see on your shower walls is from your shower water and therefore is also on your skin and can clog pores.
Once I realized that the water was contributing, I bought a shower filter. Thankfully, buying a showerhead filter is inexpensive and installing one is extremely simple. We bought the Aqua Bliss shower filter.
I then went on to also put a filter on my bathroom sink faucet for when I wash my face. I like the Pur sink attachment.
Wash your makeup brushes
At least once a week if you wear makeup daily, wash your makeup brushes with a good quality cleaner. My favorite is the EcoTools Make Cleaner. They are coated in product residue, dirt, oil and of course bacteria.
Use clean techniques when applying your makeup such as only put makeup on with clean hands. Use only clean brushes and apply only after you have cleaned your skin. I have learned a lot from makeup counters and use q tips for a lot of my makeup application.
Additionally, if you haven’t been following good hygiene rules with your makeup, then most likely your makeup contains bacteria. It might be best to switch out. When purchasing makeup, look for designs that keep the makeup from contamination such as a foundation with a pump.
Wash hands and then rinse face after working out
The key to this tip is IMMEDIATELY!!! Don’t let the dirt and sweat dry on your face. Don’t wait to wash your face until you drive home. I usually do a workout that consists of a cardio part and a weightlifting part. Once I finish my cardio, I stop by the restroom. I wash my hands with soap and then I wash my face with only water. Remember you want to limit the number of times a day you wash your face with soap because that can be too drying causing your skin to overproduce oils.
I won’t sweat nearly as much by doing weights. Then once I’m done, I again stop by the restroom to wash my hands first and then rinse my face off with water.
I will use my hands to wipe the water away from my face or I will use a disposable paper towel to pat my face dry. Whenever you work out, immediately rinse your face with water right after!
Use a Non-foaming face wash
While it is so tempting to want to use a very strong facewash, it will make the issue worse. The more you clean away the natural oils, the more your body will produce. Inevitably causing clogged pores and acne.
The most drying face washes are ones that are very sudsy. My skincare person I see told me to never use foaming face wash. Instead, she recommended using micellar water. It will remove dirt, oil, and makeup without drying your skin. I have had best luck with the Garnier Skin Active Micellar Water.
I alternate between the micellar water and an oil face cleaner. The oil in the cleaner bonds to the dirt and oil in your face and removes it. Using an oil cleaner will not strip oil away like other cleaners. Instead, it will leave your skin moisturized. Once I started using an oil-based cleanser on my skin, I will never use anything else again. My favorite one is the DHC Deep Facial Cleansing Oil.
Take a Zinc Supplement for Hormonal Acne
If you think your acne is hormonal, then you will find the advice you get will be to limit processed foods and dairy. Now, I’m sure eating a more healthy and clean diet will help, but I hate advice like that, of course, you should eat as healthy as you can and live a healthy lifestyle.
Instead, I’m going to focus on the few things that I feel have worked for me or people I know.
My friend swears by zinc supplements for her hormonal acne. Zinc has a lot of awesome properties such as being anti-inflammatory. Zinc also naturally supports your ovary functions and helps to decrease production of androgens (a group of sex hormones). Androgens basically control your body’s ability to produce your skin’s oil. Overproduction of oil can cause acne. You can also take an anti-androgen supplement.
My other piece of advice here is to try Flo vitamins. I had really bad PMS and my skin would always break out around that time each month. I didn’t really believe the Flo vitamin reviews, but they were so positive that I had to try it. I was amazed. My cramps were literally gone. By the second month on it, I didn’t even notice my period start whereas before the first day of my period would be unbearable. A nice side effect of these vitamins was clearer skin.
Protect your skin before swimming in chlorinated pools
Swimming is an awesome summer activity and a lot of people think because it has chlorine which kills bacteria, it must be great for your skin. There is some truth to that. If the acne on your skin is caused by bacteria, then a very quick dip in the pool can help.
However, what is more likely to happen is the opposite. Chlorine is very drying to your skin so swimming can make your acne really bad since it strips away all the natural oils, causing your skin to overproduce oils. Therefore, if I am going to swim, I protect my skin. It is already very common to pretreat your hair to protect it from chlorine by using something similar to AquaGuard.
For my skin, I use products that have Vitamin C. Vitamin C neutralizes chlorine and is used to treat chlorinated water in water treatment plants. You can use your favorite Vitamin C lotion which for me is the Advanced Clinicals Vitamin C Face and Body Cream or you can use a lotion designed for swimmers like the Pre-Swim Aqua Therapy.
Find a face sunblock that won’t make you break out
Preventing sun damage is absolutely essential to having beautiful skin and no skincare regimen should be without it. Seriously, you need to wear sunscreen every day. Over 90% of aging is caused by sun damage. Start today if you don’t already do this and you can thank me in 10 years when everyone else you know has dramatically aged, but your skin has almost no lines or wrinkles.
I have gone way off topic so back to how to get rid of acne! What I have found is that a lot of sunblock brands do make me break out. The two that I have had most success with are the La Roche-Posay Anthelios and the EltaMD Daily Sunscreen. My friend really likes the ISDIN Photo Sunscreen but I just can’t pay that much for sunscreen.
If you read my posts or follow me, then you know I would never write a skin article without talking about sunblock. If you want to know more about why sunblock is the only anti-aging product you will ever need, read my tips to look and feel amazing.
End your habit of touching your face
I know by now I have thoroughly exhausted you of hearing about the connection between touching your face with items that contain bacteria. I will therefore make this tip short and sweet.
Another habit to get into is to quit touching your face and to always wash your hands with soap before washing your face, applying product to your face, or even applying makeup.
Start to notice how much you touch your face throughout the day, once you are aware of your habits you can change them. For example, do you always rest your face on your hand while sitting at your desk? Do you use the back of your hand as a napkin?
Pursue Acne Free Skin Today
Throughout this post, I shared with you all of the tips that have transformed my skin from dry itchy skin full of breakouts to beautiful healthy acne free skin.
I now don’t need to add pounds of makeup to hide my acne. In fact, I use very few products on my skin these days after making all these changes. I don’t use any acne products and instead take a holistic approach trying to remove the culprits that are causing the acne in the first place.
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I am a wife, teacher, and mother to two awesome girls. I write about what I am passionate, which is sharing my experiences, failures, and successes on everything from family, marriage and motherhood to home improvement, DIY house projects and home making. I also always enjoy sharing with my readers tips I learn about selfcare, beauty and skin care for women. Let this space be a resource for you to pursue your very best day.