13 Acne Tips You Wish Someone Would Have Told You Way Earlier


How many times have you heard “drink more water and you’ll be fine” or “you need to stay hydrated and it’ll all go away on its own” but it doesn’t, does it? Acne is an extremely complex thing. Water does help all our systems and yes, you should stay hydrated but it is not a solution for acne, otherwise 50% of the population wouldn’t have it. 

I’ve had acne practically my entire life; it’s been a constant nuisance since I was 11 years old, and with my 23rd birthday just around the corner, it’s still hanging out and one thing is certain: managing acne is a journey full of twists and turns and ups and downs. My acne is both hormonal and genetic, and I’ve learned that, while genes may be the “loaded gun”, our environment and habits are both the trigger to more breakouts and the safety catch to clearer skin. 

Consider these tips your jackpot straight from experts and seasoned by my own experiences. We’ve all heard that we should wash our hands before applying makeup or skincare, but did you know that you should also wash your hands between each step to reduce the spread of bacteria, and that you should probably change your pillow covers every day? And that dairy and dandruff could be the cause of your acne? The insights I’ve garnered through this journey, I wish I’d stumbled upon ages ago. Incorporating these into your routine could be the key to smoother, clearer skin. And who knows, like me, you might even bid acne adieu for a while. Read more below. 

1. Change your pillowcases often


It might sound a bit drastic, but if you struggle with acne, changing your pillowcase every 2-3 days is a smart move because they trap bacteria. While you may be freshly cleansed, the bacteria absorbed from the night before is now on your face.

I once committed to changing my pillowcase nightly, and the results spoke for themselves. My acne visibly improved, it stopped spreading due to less bacteria contact. Purchase a set of 6 or 8 pillowcases to make things easier, and change them in the morning so you can sleep easily when you’re exhausted at night.

2. Sleep facing upwards


This is an excellent way to avoid bacteria while also benefiting your lymphatic system. If you can’t sleep with your face up, consider investing in silk pillowcases to help prevent bacteria buildup on your face. I toss and turn a lot and prefer to sleep curled up like a baby. So silk pillowcases are the way to go. It is a more breathable fabric. It absorbs less moisture than other common bedding materials like cotton. Silk is also less likely to absorb any lotions or serums used in your nighttime skincare routine, so they remain on your skin. Also if you sleep like I do, wash your face as soon as you wake up.

3. Don’t repeat your face towels


So many of us keep one face towel for the day, which seems reasonable, but when we wash our faces twice or thrice day or wipe our hands, using the same towel is not a good idea. You could use 2-3 face towels but let’s try and save water. I started allowing the water to dry on its own. It takes 30 to 60 seconds. It’s also beneficial to apply moisturiser or serum when your face is slightly wet, so it’s a win-win situation.

4. Don’t use hot water directly on your face


Hot water removes the skin’s natural oils and healthy bacteria, which help to keep moisture in and bad stuff out. Hot water can also aggravate pre-existing acne or cause a breakout by stimulating the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum when dry. In the shower, it feels great to have steaming hot water on my face after a long day at work; it’s fine once in a while, but if you do it frequently, switch to warm or cold water.

5. Wash your hands before makeup and skincare and before every step


Yes, before each step. Here’s what you do. You always wash your hands before beginning your skincare or makeup routine, but most people don’t realise that you should wash your hands after each step or step that involves touching your acne. For example, I wash my hands before applying concealer and again before foundation, and I only use makeup brushes for blush and bronzer (more on that below). The rest is done entirely by hand.

6. Avoid using makeup brushes

Simply use your hands, and if you do want to use makeup brushes, make sure to wash them every three days. I’ve learned to do my makeup without them, and I actually prefer it; however, I do use makeup brushes for my bronzer and blush, which I wash every 3-4 days or once a week.

7. Double cleansing after makeup is a must


Makeup and acne form a vicious cycle. You have acne, so you wear makeup, but the makeup aggravates your acne and it continues. Try double cleansing, whether you wear makeup on a regular basis or only on special occasions. I recommend using miscellar water followed by a non-comedogenic facewash.

8. Your dandruff could be causing your acne


Yep. So I no longer have dandruff, but I did when I was younger, and it was the cause of my forehead acne. My dandruff and forehead acne both went away after I used shampoos like logidruff and anti-dandruff lotion. Two birds, one stone.

9. Use ice to help ease your hard acne

Ice is great for acne because it soothes and reduces redness and swelling. You could use an ice cube wrapped in a cloth and target a single large pimple (this helps with pain too), or try an ice facial. Following this, apply your topical pimple creams and relax.

10. Too many products is never the answer


Don’t confuse your skin. As enjoyable as it is to own new skincare products, experimenting with them all is probably not a good idea. Keep it simple after a face wash. In the morning, apply serum, moisturiser, and sunscreen. On lazy or sad days, I have a simple step routine: sunscreen. Experiment with actives at night, but always begin with one and stick with it for a month before moving on to another. Lactic acid is great for acne-prone skin; I use Biossance lactic acid followed by a nice thick moisturiser. This is only done on alternate days, and it may purge initially, but this means it’s doing its job of exfoliating your skin.

11. Use topical creams but note that different pimples require different topical creams


So with acne-prone skin, I’ve tried everything from Clindamycin to Benzoyl Peroxide, and I’ve discovered that different pimples require different topical creams. Consult your dermatologist about this, but as an example, a Nadifloxacin cream works well for big, hard pimples. Be patient, these take 5-7 days to work.

12. Reduce dairy consumption as much as you can

So, am I the only one who thought spicy foods were more harmful? It wasn’t until I was 19, at a dermatologist appointment, that I learnt dairy products irritate acne more. Do not completely eliminate dairy products from your diet; they contain probiotics that fight harmful bacteria; however, if you are overdoing it, limit your consumption. Also, try to reduce it right before your period.

13. Have green tea and bananas before your period


So, we all know the drill: right before and during your period, there’s often that one stubborn pimple that just won’t quit. It’s natural because of the hormonal fluctuations. Try loading up on green tea and have a banana every day leading up to your period. These little habits can help keep those acne-causing hormones in check and dial down any skin inflammation.

Exercise, diet, medications, and staying hydrated are all beneficial, but it’s all about finding the right balance and being consistent with small habits. I was on the strongest medication, but I still broke out until, I added these to my routine. I hope these tips help you like they helped me.

- Intern, Elle India

More From

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content