Q&A Wednesday

What’s the Best Way to Stop Breakouts? (Q&A)

This is something that I take super seriously and I 100% understand where people are coming from when I get this question. I’ve shared my experience with this with you all before and though it’s super hard because I’m afraid of internet trolls showing up here, I wanted to answer this question publicly.

As a teenager, I was one of those people who tried everything to get clear skin and NOTHING worked. Like, nothing. It wasn’t until I got older and accidentally solved my own problem that I realized what was working and what definitely wasn’t. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?

This week, Jessica asked my advice on what to do when you’ve tried it all, so we’re tackling that in today’s Q&A.

Over to you! What are your best tips for keeping clear skin? Did you ever struggle with this in your life?

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  1. Avatar


    April 28, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    I’m 33 and have always had a problem with break outs. I tried different a soaps and buy some made it worse. In the last year I have started going more natural with more things. I stopped using store bought soaps and started just washing with water and doing an oatmeal scrub a couple times a week. Instead of store bought moisturizer I mix together vitamin e oil, vitamin c oil and coconut oil. Ever since doing that I haven’t had any break outs.

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    April 28, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    I think your advice is spot-on!! I use pure melaleuca essential oil (I like doterra!) on any spots to treat existing breakouts and I avoid dairy like crazy because it makes me break out almost instantly. I totally agree that it all starts with food, it’s really wild how your diet affects different aspects of your health in really significant ways.

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    April 28, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks for tackling this one, Erin. People always seem to be so secretive and embarrassed about their skin problems, which doesn’t help anyone!

    I had acne/breakout issues from about the age of 14 to 27. It was never the full-coverage hell I know some people go through, but they were just already there, over my forehead, temples, beside my nose, around my mouth (the WORST, in my opinion).

    I tried everything, though I’ll be the first to admit I suck at sticking with any kind of dietary restrictions. And do you know what I think saved me in the end? I stopped putting crap on my face.

    Seriously – I stopped everything. No moisturizers, no toners, no creams, I even quit the natural, homemade remedies. I washed my face well, with just water, in the morning and at night. And that worked for me!

    It’s been about a year and a half now that I’ve had pretty darn good skin. I’ll still get the odd zit – often around that time of the month, or when I’ve been eating particularly badly – but they tend to almost take care of themselves. I might put a little dab of baking soda/water mix to dry it out overnight, or a splash of rubbing alcohol (which is actually really bad for you, I wouldn’t recommend it), but they’re usually gone within a day or two, and are rarely obvious.

    Anyway, if diet and natural remedies just aren’t working, I’d definitely recommend turfing everything you put on your face and see if that does the trick! (I have a theory that this is why men seem to have clearer skin then women – JUST a theory.)

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      Erin Motz

      April 29, 2016 at 7:11 am

      WOW! really interesting! i’ve always wondered about men struggling less with this in general… i thought it could also be hormonal differences? SO many variables to consider!

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    Isabelle Jorgensen

    April 28, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Cutting out dairy makes a big difference for me, and I think too much bread can also be a problem. I also try not to use overly drying chemical laden face washes or toners. I’m convinced some of the stuff they suggest against acne is too rough for sensitive skin and just inflames it all even more. Gentle and regular exfoliation is great! At one point, I made a natural oatmeal scrub (saw someone talking about that). Witch hazel is a nice natural toner that is kind of astringent, but not crazy stripping. And crushed strawberry face masks are cool (they have naturally occurring salicylic acid).

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      Erin Motz

      April 29, 2016 at 7:10 am

      all of this is so true for me! i didn’t touch on bread too much, but i noticed another huge difference when i stopped eating bread and pasta. i also stopped all harsh products… i use a simple gentle cleanser and rose water as a toner plus a rich moisturizer. crazy how much trial and error is involved with finding what works for your individual situation!

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    Julie Richards

    April 28, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I am 40 years old and have always struggled with acne. So annoying to be 50 and have it still happen. Well I recently started using the oil cleansing method at night and it has worked. I don’t use any over the counter cleansers. I use the oil at night and in the morning I just wipe my face down with a warm wet wash cloth!!!! I still break out a bit and I am going to take Erin’s advice on diet and see what happens. Thanks Erin for all you do!!!

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    April 28, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Personally oil cleansing has improved my skin beyond what I ever thought it could be. It sounds counter productive to clean your face with oil, but trust me, it’s amazing! I use hemp oil because it doesn’t clog pores and is great for eczema. I used to have red, dry, scaly, itchy patches on both cheeks and down my neck. Since I started cleansing with hemp oil, it has completely cleared up and I never get breakouts. My skin is smooth, clear and glowing. 🙂

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    Mary Jane Jakubowski

    April 28, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    My breakouts center on yellow dye #5. It is in foods. It is in beauty products. And I react. Not a true allergy but a sensitivity. I get a few gives and the area breaks out for a couple weeks befor healing. I avoid this color additive when ever possible. But sometimes it gets past me and I know pretty immediately that I’ve consumed something. Could be a mini cupcake with one yellow m&m. Erin. When cutting out dairy you mean from animals. Not the plant based items?right?

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      Erin Motz

      April 29, 2016 at 7:08 am

      interesting… how did you come to such a specific conclusion? did a dr have to test for that or were you able to deduce that on your own?

      i got rid of all animal dairy products including butter, cheese, and egg. i have them all very sparingly now 🙂

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    April 28, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Like many of us, I have tried tons of different products, from DIY products to oil cleansing to fancy cleansers and creams. I agree that diet plays a big part and I think your personal skin type affects things too. Just wanted to throw out there that micellar water has made the biggest difference for me. It’s cheap, super easy to use, and is the first product I’ve used that I really noticed improving my skin.

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      Erin Motz

      April 29, 2016 at 7:06 am

      OMG I have to agree about micellar water. I started using that when we moved to Nice and it’s incredible. Will never go back to harsh cleansers.

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    April 28, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    I suffered really badly with breakouts when I was about 24 and I was so embarrassed I used to put makeup on before bed so my boyfriend wouldnt see (crazy I know and made it worse) it actually turned out to be the pill that I was taking and when I stopped taking that my skin cleared up. I still get the odd spot but I now use a skincare regime for combination skin which is natural, contains essential oils and moisturises my skin.

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    April 28, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Loved that you addressed this question! I’ve always had great skin up until a couple years ago, at age 29, I started breaking out like crazy after I tried the oil cleansing method. I used a blend of castor oil and jojoba and my skin went nuts. At first I thought I was just going through a purge phase, but after a month my mom and fiancé staged an intervention because my skin was so bad. I think the oils I chose weren’t a good fit for my skin type, but I’m too nervous to experiment with it again!

    Since then, my skin has improved a little, but it’s still not the same and I struggle with constant breakouts around my forehead, nose and chin/sides of mouth. I’ve tried a variety of things including more natural cleansers, acne cleansers, removing gluten, reducing dairy, meditating…

    I think I need to bite the bullet and fully remove dairy completely. I’m pretty sure I eat more than I realize.

    I also think another commenter’s feedback may be helpful – to completely stop putting all sorts of crap on our face (creams, oils, lotions, toners). May just stick to a light, mild cleanser 1x a day, witch hazel and that’s it.

    Also, I need to stop picking!! That is probably the worst thing I do!

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    April 28, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Thanks Erin for talking about this. I am 37 and have always battled with skin problems. I think stress is a factor and Yoga has helped with this as well as using facial oils. I have heard about the Dairy thing before and now from the comments feel inspired to give it a go for a month. X

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    April 28, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I’m 33 and have never had horrible acne, but I would get monthly breakouts and always had about 1-3 zits. About 3 years ago my sister in law started selling Shaklee so I tried out their skincare line and fell in love! They have an acne clarifying complex that will make you break out with little whiteheads (I found this is because it’s clearing out your pores) and wonder what the heck?! But then those go away and it leaves your skin looking amazing! I followed it up with toner and after about a month I only used the toner daily and was able to go without any foundation! I only use BareMinerals mineral veil to keep the shine away. My cousin came to visit a while back and had a pretty large zit on her cheek that she’d had for about 3 months, I gave her the product and within 1-2 days it had shrunk by more than half in size and was gone within a few more days. I love having skin so great that I don’t have to wear makeup if I don’t want to ?

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    April 29, 2016 at 5:20 am

    I had bad skin as a teenager and the only thing that helped was the birth control pill. Took that for years and had pretty great clear skin, just the occasional spot as you do. Last year I stopped taking it and I knew my hormones would freak out about it, but it was awful. I tried my regular washing with dove soap (I’d stopped using specific face washes because they definitely made my skin worse) but it just wasn’t cutting it. Went back to trying to a few skincare lines and I will say that BHA liquid does help. However, in the last 2-3 months I’ve cut out dairy (been transitioning to a plant-based diet but oh how I miss cheese) and the difference has been super noticeable! I mean I’ve got pigmentation scars now but the breakouts seem to have stopped, no cystic type guys, it’s been great. I’m not someone who likes to wear a heavy foundation so it has been a struggle but seriously, the no dairy thing, it seems to work!

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    Seamingly Sarah

    April 29, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Oddly enough I had great skin as a teen, then battled mild acne in my 20’s. It got worse in my 30’s, one blind pimple after another! Oil cleansing made it worse and going natural with nothing didn’t work either. For me Neutrogena cleanser and toner with Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion did the trick. I’ve also noticed more acne around my chin and mouth when I overload on candy. So I’ve cut out refined sugar and only use coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey to sweeten things.

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      April 29, 2016 at 10:15 am

      I just started to use the Rapid Clear Products. The lotion I could find in stock was a crazy price, like $60 for a few ounces so I got the facial cleanser and the fight and fade toner. The cleanser really dries my skin so I stopped using that after one wash. I am using the fight and fade toner 2 times daily and it is helping slowly to take the redness away. There is still some dryness, so I put lotion on over it. I have also been experimenting with diet, as I wanted to try a vegan diet. My problem is accessibility to the good, organic foods where I live. I have cut down on animal products a lot and have not noticed a skin change with that at all. I have the same problem as many of you – great skin as a teen and then adult onset acne. I even tried the antibacterial topical prescription creams. Not helpful. I am excited to try some of the other methods people listed here.

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    May 1, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Yes! You are right! People don’t talk about this enough. Acne is usually caused by something internally wrong. The hard part is figuring out what exactly that is, since everyone is different. For me it is sugar. Every other food I am fine with, but excessive sugars or drinking alcohol cause inflammation and make my skin angry! It even starts to feel warm. I only wish I had figured this out sooner (I didn’t even get serious acne until I was 22) having gone through hardcore meds, and left with bad scarring from the cystic acne. Once you get everything back on track, which can take a long time, it’s all about maintaining a balance so you don’t send your body out of whack again. It’s a constant struggle.
    Good luck to everyone facing skin issues!

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