A Short Guide to Naturally Get Rid of Your Acne and Stopping Skin-Picking
An article about how you can greatly reduce your acne and/or stop picking your skin.
For the last ten years, I have been struggling with acne as many other women and men. It has been a long and emotional journey that seems to be reaching its end, and I want to share it with you.
I know how acne can be frustrating and can quickly lead through a down and dark spiral. Some of us do not care that much about it, but for others, it can be a real daily struggle. Like many teenagers, my acne started when I was 14 years old more or less. At first, it was just a few spots, nothing to worry about.
At that time, I was going through a tough familial situation. My parents were divorced, I would see my father every two weeks or so, and when I would visiting him with my brother, we would often spend our time by ourselves rather than spending some family time with him. I don’t recall a time where my father actively decided to spend some quality time with us after my 13th birthday.
Being diagnosed as a narcissistic person, my father daily manipulated me — especially after my 9th birthday — on a psychological and emotional basis. It took me almost ten years before deciding to cut every communication channel with him.
Once he wasn’t an active part of my life anymore, this choice led to an immediate stop of his emotional and psychological manipulations over me. This sudden change is — what I believe — the starting point of my skin-picking habit.
I think that on a subconscious level — which I only became aware of years later — I started picking my skin to self-destroy myself. Since he wasn’t around anymore to create this suffering, I created it myself through skin-picking in order to keep the negative pattern alive in some way.
From my forehead to my cheeks, neck, and back, some days would feel so bad that I would end up canceling meetings and skipping some lectures, or classes for my studies. I was feeling desperately frustrated and angry towards myself. I just wanted to stay hidden and see no one until the situation would get better. An ironic self-destructive circle.
My fight to reduce my acne and feel better about myself and especially love myself again really started after high school, once I had left France to move to the Netherlands for my studies.
I had tried many solutions from antibiotics, expensive dermatologist sessions, creams or treatments, to getting angry at myself, feeling desperate, or trying to make some deals with myself. Nothing worked.
One day as I was surfing the web, I ended up finding a dermatologist who was publishing weekly articles about reducing and curing acne through natural and daily routine habits.
From that moment on, I reviewed every daily habit I had from my mindset to my morning and evening skincare routines to bring awareness on how I could create new healthy habits.
In this article, you will find all the routines and new habits I created to get rid of 95% of my acne (leaving a 5% margin for occasional hormonal or stress acne). I don’t know what I am the happiest about: the remarkable physical change or the psychological and emotional turnover.
Based on my experience I feel that the most important aspect that made a difference was going from self-hate and self-destruction to self-love and self-acceptance. I started appreciating my body and myself again, feeling better in my skin, and creating healthy and balanced self-esteem.
I’m not going to lie to you about it, I believe that this type of experience is a journey in itself rather than a single event. Every day I decide to make healthy decisions — or not — which will later influence my body’s reaction. If you spend your days eating junk food and not taking care of yourself, you will make it more difficult for your body to give you a different answer.
Note: I do not have pictures of my skin before because of how ashamed I felt about it. So, unfortunately, I won’t have any before pictures to offer you but here is an 'after' one!
In the following pages, you will find the different techniques, routines, decisions, and changes I took to reduce 95% of my acne. They work for me but of course, might not work for you, you need to try and judge by yourself.
The idea is to offer you a complete overview of the different psychological, emotional, and physical changes I made over the last 5 years that tremendously helped me in my journey. Pick what you find interesting and what you think might work for you, and create the next step towards the healthiest skin and lifestyle!
Acne is a bigger problem than injuries. — Brian Clough
Cleaning & Disinfecting
- Cleaning your makeup brushes as much as possible during the week. By using them regularly, they become the ideal place for bacteria to grow.
- Changing your bedsheet (especially the pillow cover) every week. While sleeping we tend to sweat a lot, and since we keep our face on it, it becomes a perfect place for your acne to develop.
- Cleaning at least once a month the ‘under’ pillow covers.
- Disinfecting keys, bags, door handles, light switches, smartphones, keyboards, headphones, and other items that you regularly use, they are a haven for bacteria.
- Washing your hands often.
- COVID-19 Bonus: Wash or change your face mask regularly.
- Tying your hair as much as possible to let your skin breathes.
- Checking a Physiologic and/or Emotional Face Mapping.
- Going to saunas or to the spa — I try to do it every month — is also a great way to deeply clean and reset your skin and body as well as helping you reduce stress and anxiety, which are often a cause for acne and/ or skin-picking.
- Working out every day for a few minutes at least. I especially like doing yoga because it helps me to release stress and negative thoughts but I also highly enjoy going for a run as it helps me to also create a positive mindset.
- Sleeping: Probably one of the most important aspects. I try to sleep at least 8 hours per night as well as going to bed and getting up around the same time in order to create a healthy and stable routine for my body. Of course, some people might need more or less sleeping time, that’s something you need to figure out.
- Of course, I won't remind you of the effects of smoking and alcohol on your skin, but they are aspects worth mentioning.
- If you're at home or in an office the whole day, open the window and/or go out to get some fresh air. Being in a warm and closed space doesn't help your skin.
Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most. — Abraham Lincoln
- Moving to a vegetarian and then plant-based lifestyle: Eating or drinking lactose-free products greatly helped me reducing my acne as well as stopping eating most animal products. I do keep eating fish or cheese once in a while when I go out for dinner to some of my friends’ or family’s places for instance.
- Drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day. Water is a great way to purify your skin and your body.
- Drinking a cup of hot water with lemon and ginger (that sometimes includes green tea). Lemon is known to help to detoxify your body as well as your skin while ginger mainly acts as an antioxidant.
- Doing a plant Detox every 6 months.
- Smoothies with beet— also an ingredient that helps to cure acne.
- Junk food and sodas: I don’t like sodas that much so they’re not part of my life, which I guess also helps. Regarding junk food, I love to eat something fat once in a while but I do see the difference almost over a couple of hours on my skin. So that’s something I am careful with.
Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected. — T. Collin Campbell
I found them much more efficient and healthiest in the long term than the antibiotics and other expensive medication I tried.
- In the morning: I usually take some Turmeric (acts as an anti-inflammatory), Vitamin D (has antimicrobial properties + also acts as an anti-inflammatory), and Magnesium (for stress, fatigue, and anxiety).
- In the evening: I take some Zinc. It is a great ally to have by your side for scars due to acne and making your skin smoother. I found it would work best when I would take it in the evening before bed rather than in the morning.
Skin Routine & Makeup
Daily Skincare Routine
In the morning:
- Wash your face with a natural soap (ideally one made with sulfur, it’s great for your acne), dry your face, and then use an ice cube to tighten the pores. Once your skin is dry and ready, gently apply a facial oil (I love the tea tree, almond, or Aloe Vera ones) before putting on my makeup.
- Using light facial oils rather than thick creams helps me to hydrate my skin without making it sticky or 'heavy'.
In the evening:
- Remove your makeup EVERY evening (even when it’s late or if you've been out partying).
- Wash your face with the hand-made soap.
- Put some lemon juice on a cotton and apply it on the zones with acne or scars. Doing this regularly made my skin brighter, eliminated some acne scares, cleaned the areas with acne, and accelerated the process (To not use in the sun though!)
- Apply some tea tree /and or toothpaste on your acne.
- If your skin is really dry in some areas, apply some facial oil as well as around your eyes.
- You can also find recipes with natural essential oils that you can apply to your acne on a daily basis.
For both morning and evening, I want to highlight the point that it is important to wash your face even if you've been at home the whole day, your skin still gets dirty on a micro-level. It's not because you don't see it that it's not there!
Skin routine to do 2 to 3 times a week
- Boil some water, pour it in a bowl, put a towel over your head and place your face over the water (not too close though!). That’s a great way to open your pores and get it ready for deep cleaning. After 5 to 10min, use a facial scrub (the more natural and less chemical the better) followed by a mask.
- Since I've been using the makeup from Lily Lolo — a makeup brand based in London — my skin became way smoother and healthier. This brand is especially made for sensitive skins that have a tendency to get acne. Instead of using creams and other heavy foundation products for my skin, I use some mineral powders that also contain some Zinc and so help to reduce the redness parts either caused by acne or other skin issues.
- As a makeup remover, I also saw a tremendous change when I started using either a Jojoba oil or some Micellar water.
Emotions & Mindset
In a lot of cases, emotions and thoughts play a big role in either increasing or decreasing your acne and skin-picking, so here are a few things I've been doing these last years which greatly help me on my journey.
For the skin-picking and stress or anxiety
- Hypnosis or guided meditation that you can find on Youtube for instance. In my case, it seems to work best when I do a session before bed. Indeed, it is well-known that your body (and so your skin) regenerates the most during your sleeping time.
- Additionally, when you sleep, your skin will reflect back on what happened during your day, meaning that if you've spent your day feeling awful about your acne and going crazy on your face, there is a high chance that the next day you will get the effects. While if you spend your day taking care and being gentle with your skin, your sleeping time will reflect that and your skin will look better the next day.
- Become aware of when you pick your skin.
- Ask yourself Why, and When you do it. What are the emotions connected to it? Is it about hurting yourself? Or is it about self-esteem? Or anxiety (and if so, regarding what matter)?
How do you feel before, during, and after, you've been picking your skin? On my side, I know that when I would pick my skin there were moments when the time would completely disappear for 20 to 30min or even an hour. So I think it's important to try and notice at the moment how you're feeling even though it's easier said than done.
I am a human being, with feelings and emotions and scars and flaws just like anyone else. — Josh Gordon
A positive mindset towards yourself will help to reduce your acne
I find this part particularly important, and my fiancé greatly helped me to shed a light on it. I will always remember the time when we started dating, shortly after he looked at me in the mirror (when I had no makeup at all, which was VERY uncomfortable) and told me that he loved and accepted me for who I was and that I needed to be nicer towards myself. Since I've developed small mindset habits that greatly participated in this journey to get a smoother skin.
- Write small love messages to yourself on a post-it and stick it where you can see it every day. When you know them by heart, create some new ones. No one can love and treat yourself as best as you do.
- Write, read and repeat affirmations such as: “I accept myself the way I am”, “I have a beautiful and healthy skin”, “I love myself for who I am”. Maybe at first, you won't believe them, but eventually, they will take over the negative thoughts you have about yourself.
- Ask yourself: How do you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror? How do you feel about your acne? How would you feel if your skin was smooth? It will help to take some time to reflect on how you feel about it, but of course, there is no need to focus on it every day except if it helps you.
- Something that works for me is that the less I focus on my acne, the faster your skin heals and becomes smoother.
- Do a check-up with yourself: When do you notice that you have more acne? Because of stress? Or due to your hormones?
- As a woman, I also reviewed the contraceptive pill I’m using. I decided to go for a micro-dose as it impacts less my body compared to the other ones I used to take, which would make me gain weight, and increase my acne among others. If you're using or want to use a contraceptive method, check how your body and skin react to it.
- An exercise you can do: for 30min, look at yourself in the eye by using a mirror. You can't glance at something else or check your nose. The goal is to fix your eyes. You can do this exercise once as you can do it every couple of days depending on how strong those negative thoughts towards yourself are.
I found this exercise quite challenging as I went through a lot of emotions. Avoidance, self-criticism, self-doubt, disdain, hate, anger, sadness, calm, acceptance, love.
Of course, there are still days — especially due to hormones — where I have some acne, but it became so much lighter and almost non-existent that I see it as a real win. And the irony is that the more I feel positive about my skin and its state, the quicker it becomes smooth and acne-free.
Wishing you and your beautiful skin a lot of peace and love for this new upcoming year!
*Note: If you have further questions about this article or acne/ skin-picking in general, feel free to contact me via my website dev-yourself.com, my Instagram account, or via this platform.