Group of girlfriends poking fun at acne at daphnekknows

14 Tips on how to get rid of acne and

Key ingredients to look out for.

After years of trying, I finally became the Product Manager in the Marketing department at Avon.  I was the marketing person in charge of skincare. Perfect for a qualified and experienced cosmetic chemist, right?  WRONG. I HAD A FACE FULL OF ACNE!

To think, I got away with not having pimples as a teenager and then to stand in front of 500 Avon representatives as an adult with a face full of acne!

I still remember a Senior Marketeer ordering me into her office to say:

“Daphne you need to do something about your skin!”

Thanks Einstein! Like I hadn’t been trying hard enough already!

The problem is that the more you try to get rid of acne, the more the acne persists.

The main reason for acne is due to an excess of sebum (oil) that is produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands (oil producing engines) combined with the presence of bacteria and dead skin cells. This combination of oil and dead skin cells helps block the pores and thus create the perfect environment for pimples.

Surely we would hit an age where pimples no longer persist?

So why adult acne?

Hormonal changes and stress:

Hormonal changes and stress, can trigger an increase in the production of the male hormone, androgen, which then can stimulate an over production of sweat and sebum. An overproduction of sweat can cause a variety of skin related issues, like chafing or in this case acne.

If your skin has the predisposition to overproduce sebum, trying to strip your skin of this oil will only make those little engines produce even more oil.

Consequently, the sebaceous glands think;

Hey, they’ve run out of oil on the skin’s surface, let’s produce more.”

I feel a holistic approach is key when dealing with life’s little challenges.

The following 14 tips are what I have learnt in dealing with acne.

1. Don’t give a damn!

Easy to say, yet hard to do … but not impossible.

Less is the key when dealing with acne. The less you care about what people think, the less stress and then less acne flare ups.

  • Catch negative self-talk and convert it into positive thoughts.
  • Start the day with 1 Positive affirmation and 3 Reasons to be grateful.
  • Set the alarm on your mobile, as the trigger to keep reminding you of your affirmations and the reasons why you should be grateful.
  • Write positive affirmations on post it notes and place them on all the mirrors that you use.
  • List your ‘reasons to be grateful’ and add them as the wallpaper on your mobile.
  • Remember to regularly add to your list of affirmations and be mindful to be grateful.

2. Avoid wearing foundation and blush daily

In the attempt to hide these little buggers, don’t slather on foundation.

When you apply foundation and cosmetics, the sheer touch to the skin provides an opportunity to transfer bacteria (staphyloccus).

When applying products to the skin, you can further aggravate it which may trigger the production of more sebum. So be kind to your skin and give it a break. Maybe save the foundation and blush for party times only.

3. Carefully select and apply foundation and blush

When searching for the right foundation or blush, chose wisely.

Foundation packaging and application:

  • First of all, buy foundation in a pump dispenser, or a tube as this controls the amount of product that is placed on your fingers. More importantly it also reduces the opportunities for cross contamination between the product, your skin and the applicator. Bacteria can be easily transferred from your fingers to your skin and then back into the product.
  • Secondly, apply the foundation by gently dabbing or patting onto the skin instead of applying the product in a circular or a back and forward motion. Applying products to you skin in a circular or stroking motion can stimulate the sebaceous glands, resulting in an increased production of sebum.

Blush application:

  • Do not use blush brushes. If you must, they need to be sterilised and air dried after each use and how practical would that be?  Again, the blush brush is a feasting ground for bacteria.
  • Best to apply your powder blush with cotton wool and then dispose of the cotton wool after one use.  Although ‘single use’ items go against my sustainability principles, this is that one time that I feel it is necessary to avoid the spread of bacteria.

Recommended packaging and application of products for acne prone skin


Remember to always remove your makeup before bedtime.


4. Do not touch your face.

Don’t pick, poke, or squeeze pimples!
Our fingers are full of bacteria and each time you touch your skin you are transferring bacteria.

Don’t try to scrub your face clean!  When you have acne flare ups, avoid using products that irritate your skin, like astringents, toners and exfoliants.

Facials too can aggravate your skin.   I remember driving for one hour to the other side of Sydney in sheer desperation to go to a beautician to help rid me of my acne. The result … I was left with pretty bad scaring, as she dug, picked, pocked at my face.  As a cosmetic chemist, I should have known better, but as I said, I was desperate!

5. Gently wash your face

Wash your face twice a day, with lukewarm water and use your fingertips to apply a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser.  Using a washcloth or a sponge can irritate your skin and you need to make sure that they have not been used beforehand. Gently pat dry your skin with a clean cotton face towel.  Do not wash your face aggressively or excessively to the point where you strip your skin of it’s natural oils, as we know that this will generate more sebum.

6. Keep your hair out of your face

Keep your hair tied back and free from your face.

Shampoo your hair regularly and if your hair is oily, you may need to shampoo daily.

7. Use linen or cotton pillowcases

For those of us who sleep with our faces buried in our pillows, use cotton or linen pillow cases as they are natural fibres that allow your skin to breathe.  Also remember to wash your pillow case at least a couple of times a week and dry it in the sun. Drying clothing out in the sun is great for killing germs and it is more environmentally friendly too.  If your acne is on your chest or back, ensure that all your bed linen is made of natural fibres like cotton, linen or silk.

8. Do read product labels

Look for those products that contain the following key ingredients:

Key ingredients that assist in the management of acne



Look for hair and skin care products that contain the following terms

on every container:

  • Non – comedogenic (won’t clog pores)
  • Non-acnegenic
  • Oil-free
  • Won’t clog pores

Products that contain these terms are least likely to cause acne.  Finally, choose products that are gentle, alcohol free and mild to the skin.

 9. Do eat healthily

Your body is your temple, so treat it as such by eating a balanced diet and one that is rich in antioxidants (fruits and dark green vegetables).

Eat food that contains essential fatty acids (omega 3), like salmon, tuna, mackerel, almonds and seeds. (When eating seafood, please make sure it is sustainable .)

Eating a low glycemic index (GI)[i] diet, has been demonstrated to have the ability to correct the increased production of sebum, which in turn can help reduce acne.

10. Drink plenty of water

It is recommended that we drink 2 litres of water a day.  Keep filling up your water bottle and with each gulp, think… toxins be gone!

 11. Limit sun exposure

Half an hour of sunlight is great for the production of Vitamin D and the naturally producing happy hormone, serotonin.  Happiness reduces stress and stress reduction helps lessens acne flare ups. So get out into the sun, with you hat and oil-free sunscreen.  Remember, keep a balance between too much sun exposure, which can lead to cancer, and enough exposure to maintain Vitamin D levels.

12. Exercise

We all know that stress is bad for you, but did you know that it is bad for your skin?  Stress produces cortisol and heightened levels of cortisol for long periods of time, trigger the production of more androgen.  Exercise helps reduce cortisol and it produces the happy hormone, serotonin.  So get your body moving.  Walk, run, dance just do something, to get the blood pumping through your veins.  Hit the beach and swim in salty water. If you can’t get to the beach, find the closest strip of nature and allow yourself to be absorbed in it.

13. Prevention rather than cure

My number one philosophy in life is, ‘prevention rather than cure’.   Therefore, when you start seeing the first signs of acne, or once you are on top of it, only then should you use a very mild exfoliant to gently remove the dead skin cells. Exfoliate gently, twice per week and wash your face daily.  When choosing exfoliants do not use anything too abrasive and beware of using plastic microbeads as they end up in our waterways and help destroy our marine life.

Further more, cleaners which are labelled as ‘antibacterial’ in general, are unnecessary.  As long as cleansing is done with clean running water and soap, bacteria will be eliminated. If you must use a product that is labelled as antibacterial for  acne prone skin, keep away from Triclosan.

14. Relax

Relaxation is the one that I find the hardest to do.  Relax by being mindful of your breathing and slow it down.  Breathe deeply in from your nose, into your chest and out from your mouth…slowly.

For those special occasions where you would like to look your best with makeup on, but don’t want to make the acne worse, go to our tutorial on the blog post, ‘ Best way to apply makeup to acne prone skin.’ 

Acne free skin is possible, its just a matter of time. Until they pass and they will, go face the world with your head held up high and wear these little buggers with confidence.

Do you have a tip to add to mine? Let me know how you go, by commenting on this site (scroll down) or facebook, twitter, instagram


These are the strategies that I have used and have been successful in my personal war against acne. Having said that, these tips should not be deemed inclusive of all proper methods of care or exclusive of other methods of caring for acne. At the end of the day, we are all individuals with differing circumstances.  If you have tried over the counter (OTC) products to fight acne and an improvement isn’t seen within four to eight weeks, see a dermatologist. For those in America, check dermatologist.

The nose knows.

Daphne K Knows

Founder of LAJOIE SKIN 

Check out our revolutionary anti chafe cream Calmmé.

Calmme antichafing cream

Calmmé antichafing cream

Photography credit: Zara King Photography


[i] The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate foods according to their effect on blood glucose levels.

[ii] Under stress, the adrenaline glands in the body produces Cortisol.  Cortisol prepares the body for a fight-or-flight response by flooding it with glucose, supplying an immediate energy source to large muscles.

Sebum is the oil that is produced by the sebaceous glands, that helps soften and lubricate the skin and hair


  1. Gil Yosipovitch1, Mark Tang2, Aerlyn G. Dawn 1, Mark Chen4, Chee Leok Goh2, Yiong Huak Chan3 and Lim Fong Seng4. Study of Psychological Stress, Sebum Production and Acne. s.l. : Acta Derm Venereol, 2007. 87: 135–139.
  2. Annie Chiu, BS; Susan Y. Chon, MD; Alexa B. Kimball, MD, MPH . The Response of Skin Disease to Stress. The JAMA Network. [Online] Arch Dermatol., July 2003. [Cited: 19 October 2015.] 139(7):897-900. doi:10.1001/archderm.139.7.897. .
  3. Dr Jo-Ann See. Acne vulgaris. The Australasian College Of Dermatologist. [Online] 10 August 2015. [Cited: 16 October 2015.]
  4. Dermatology, American Academy of. Acne:Tips for Managing. American Academy of Dermatology. [Online] 2015. [Cited: 7 October 2015.]
  5. Dermatologists advise patients that over-the-counter acne products can have benefits and a place on their medicine shelf . American Academy of Dermatology. [Online] 3 February 2014. [Cited: 6 October 2015.]
  6. Guidelines of care for acne vulgaris management. the American Academy of Dermatology, Inc. [Online] 6 February 2007. [Cited: 6 October 2015.]
  7. Kristen M Whitney, Cherie M Ditre. Management strategies for acne vulgaris. US National Library Of Medicine. National Institute Of Health. [Online] 23 April 2011. [Cited: 19 October 2015.]
  8. Dermatoendocrinol. Sebaceous gland lipids. US National Library of Medicine. [Online] March April 2009.
  9. The effect of low glycemic load diet on Acne vulgaris and the fatty acid composition of skin surface triglycerides. Smith RN, Braue A, Varigos GA, Mann NJ. 2008;50, J Dermatol Sci, pp. 41-52.
  10. Dina Aronson, MS, RD. Cortisol — Its Role in Stress, Inflammation, and Indications for Diet Therapy. Today’s Dietition. [Online] November 2009. [Cited: 20 Ocober 2015.] Vol. 11 No. 11 P. 38.
  11. Jonette E. Keri, M.D., Ph.D. Does Stress Cause Acne? The Dermatologist. [Online] October 2006. [Cited: 20 October 2015.] Volume 14 – Issue 10.
  12. Department of Dermatology and Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, Calif., USA. Variation of Skin Surface pH, Sebum Content and Stratum Corneum Hydration with Age and Gender in a Large Chinese Population. PMC US National Library of Medicines. [Online] 31 July 2009.
  13. 1Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA, USA. p53 induces skin aging by depleting Blimp1+ sebaceous gland cells. PMC National Library of Medicine National Insitute of Health. [Online] 2014 March 27.
  14. OHN J. RUSSELL, M.D., Abington Memorial Hospital, Abington, Pennsylvania. Topical Therapy for Acne. American Family Physician. [Online] 15 January 2000. [Cited: 16 October 2015.] 61(2):357-365..
  15. Glucose action and adrenocortical biosynthesis in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Lisa Farah Eways, Rosaria Reyna, Eric S Knochenhauer, Alfred A Bartolucci, Ricardo Azziz. 1, Pages 120–125 , California : Fertility and Sterility, 2004, Vol. 82.
The last comment needs to be approved.
17 replies
  1. chena
    chena says:

    Okay, so i just read this and found out i have been doing every thing wrong in getting rid of my acne. I will start a new routine and hopefully i will get good results..

    Will definitely come back here to give the good news soon.

    • Daphne
      Daphne says:

      Thank you so much Jane for your support. Relax is the hardest one for me to do too. I keep getting told to “relax’ and that infuriates me! Having said that, I know that I need to learn, maybe tomorrow! x

  2. Daphne
    Daphne says:

    Hi, I agree with each and every point you made in the article. I read somewhere that not enough people wash and change their pillowcases once a week. Some people sleep for weeks in a row on the same pillow case. Others don’t wash their towels because “you use them when you are clean anyway”. For acne prevention we need to keep the environment around us as sanitary as possible. As for me, I had heavy acne from the age of 23 until 26 or so because of hormonal imbalances. Going on the pill rescued me. I know it is not an ideal situation, but it keeps my pimples away. 🙂

    • Daphne
      Daphne says:

      Hello there Daphne from Cosmetic Snob, thank you for sharing your experience with the dreaded acne. Acne skipped me in my teenage years and like you, I was challenged in my twenties. As I type this up now, I have a beauty in the corner of my nose. Ah well .. at least it’s just one! Yes, very important to clean your pillow case and your towels frequently and once per week, is just not enough in the summer months and when the acne is inflamed. 🙂

  3. pimples in head
    pimples in head says:

    I read your articles they very help us. You made a good site and giving us such a great tips and remedies they amazing.Thanks for sharing the best posts they very useful to us. I am very satisfied with your articles posts they very nice

    • Daphne
      Daphne says:

      Thank you so much for this great feedback. You see, I speak from my own personal experience and on topics topics that I am professionally qualified. I do hope that you keep coming back to my site, you could subscribe and that way we can keep the conversation flowing. Enjoy, Daphne

    • Daphne
      Daphne says:

      Thank you Shahntay for reaching out to me. I am so pleased that you found this post informative. As you read problematic skin was a big issue for me. I am confident that if you just relax and continue with my tips, all will be good. Enjoy the skin you’re in. x

  4. Carrie
    Carrie says:

    Fantastic advice! I hate using chemical treatments and think it’s amazing that you’ve come up with multiple ways of fighting acne without them! Awesome read!

    • Daphne
      Daphne says:

      Thanks Carrie, these tips worked for me and I am a qualified and experienced Chemist. There is only so much topical treatments can do. The most important tip, is not to give a damn. There are a number of skin conditions that could be solved, if we just focused on something that makes us happy. Enjoy the skin you’re in. Daphne

  5. Jaime Thompson
    Jaime Thompson says:

    Hey Daph! Thanks for sharing this. I had tried almost all the tips I can found on the internet but nothing seems to be working for me. Until I went to Adult & Pediatric Dermatology ( I have seen significant improvements in my acne. The treatment they recommends are very effective.

    • Daphne
      Daphne says:

      Hi Jamie, thanks for your reaching out to me. Acne was a huge challenge for me. As a qualified and experienced Chemist and an acne sufferer I used my tips highlighted in this blog. My tips worked and hence I did not need to employ the services of anyone else and my tips are not expensive anyway. As you will note in my blog, I do not make any recommendations regarding products etc I purely provide my tips and my audience can make their own executive decisions.
      Enjoy the skin you’re in. Daphne


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