Lifestyle Changes to deal with Acne

I promised to talk about some lifestyle changes that I have incorporated to help deal with my Acne and I'm glad I am finally posting it. I already have my Acne Skincare Products post here and I would be updating it soon because some things have slightly changed.  It is very disheartening to know how much acne knocks the confidence of many young (and even older) people out there. I have had acne for a pretty long time on and off and it's only until last year that my skin  improved so much compared to previous years.  I made some lifestyle changes which really made a massive difference to my skin. My skin is nowhere near perfect but it has made leaps of improvement compared to how it was in the past. Most times, makeup could not even hide these spots/breakouts because they were just so obvious (you know the painful under-the-skin types, yep!!). I am now dealing with hyper pigmentation especially around my cheeks and I would be sharing some products that have worked for me in another post.  It's still an ongoing battle and I hope some day I would have cleared them all. These tips are based on my experience and I am aware that everyone's skin is so different so they  may or may not work for you (but I hope they do). I feel the most important thing is to understand what is causing your acne because that would help you deal with it better. I am also more than delighted to read any more recommendations or tips that have worked for you. Right, let's dive in...

Increase your water Intake and Ditch the Fizz
I have always loved water and I think I may have gotten this habit from my Mum who loves to keep hydrated. I would definitely order water over any drink now but that has not always been the case. At the peak of my acne (back in university), I was consuming a fizzy drink every day which was super unhealthy and addictive. If you love Coca Cola, you would understand that only few drinks can satisfy you as much as Coca Cola does (not even Pepsi comes close). I just loved Coca Cola but it did not love my skin back. There are a couple of studies that have tried to show the relationship between soda/fizzy drinks and acne but most of the results have been quite inconclusive. Personally for me,  it definitely worsened my acne. I think it also depends on what type of skin you have. I have many friends who consume sodas/fizzy drinks like everyday and their skin is as clear and soft as a baby’s bottom (life can be so unfair sometimes *deep sigh*). I noticed that when I increased my water intake and ditched the fizzy drink,  my skin looked much better and improved. I've had far less breakouts compared to when I was consistently drinking fizzy drinks and that's how I knew fizzy drinks exacerbated my acne. As I said, it all depends on experimenting with your skin. Besides, fizzy drinks/sodas contain a lot of sugar which cannot be healthy so either ways, you would be doing your body (and purse) a favour. On the other hand, water is so good for the body and the skin in general. Our bodies are made up of predominantly water so we need it for everything. I know you may have heard this before but aiming for at least 2 litres of water would do wonders for your skin. I drink way more than that and I have also been drinking Green Juices which are amazing.

Reducing my Dairy Intake
This is another grey area because a lot of people love dairy and dairy products and it does not affect their skin. I am one of those unlucky people who has very annoying skin that would respond in a heartbeat to dairy. I find that Cheese and Butter are the biggest culprits in exacerbating my acne. I am not even joking; I have eaten cheese in the morning and had breakouts in the evening (honestly, my skin is so annoying). At first, I refused to link it but I did quite a few experiments and the results were the same and that’s how I concluded that dairy was one of my acne culprits. I wish I could tell you some scientific background as to how this happens but I can’t;  feel free to Google it. My body generally does not agree to it and I am actually now lactose intolerant. I have drastically reduced the amount of dairy I take in (especially cheese) and I also try to avoid meals with cheese such as cheeseburgers (I miss you!!), ham burgers and pizza.  Does it mean I never eat these meals? Of course not!! Once in a while I slip up and my skin gives me some warning signs (one or two breakouts pop out on my forehead so I can't say I did not notice it) and I always heed these warnings. If you are one of those lucky people who are not affected by dairy, I am desperately jealous of you. Chocolate is also a mild culprit but I don’t have too much of it anyway so I don't miss it too much. Surprisingly, yoghurt and ice cream don’t break me out and I have no idea why but I don’t have a lot of ice cream though. On the other hand, Fries (I know it’s not dairy) also intermittently break me out especially if I have them a few times in a row within the same week so I try to space it out because I absolutely love fries. When I came to understand the important role of my diet in managing my acne, it made me very aware of what I was putting into my body. 

Wash your Makeup Brushes Regularly
I think this was definitely one of the biggest changes I made which yielded a lot of results. First off, using dirty makeup brushes is gross. If you use foundation and concealer or any makeup that's sticky/moist, it would most likely harbour bacteria on your brushes when they have not been washed in a long time. If you use these bacteria infested brushes (not the prettiest way to describe them but they are), then you stand the chance of introducing bacteria, dirt, grime, etc  to your skin. This may cause clogged pores which may result in breakouts/spots/acne.  I know that's a long stretch but there is a high possibility. I know many people who have used the same unwashed brushes for their makeup who still have amazing skin; I honestly don't know how they do it. Regardless, it always feels good to use fresh and clean makeup brushes.  I wash mine every Sunday (or worst case every other Sunday) and I have come to enjoy the process. Nothing beats the feeling of using clean brushes to apply my makeup. In between my wash day, I use a brush cleaner to wipe off any excess build up and it just takes a few seconds. For wash days, I use the Dr Bronner Magic Liquid Soap and the Sigma Express Brush Mat* which work together to give me clean brushes with the littlest amount of effort. I also wash my Beauty Blenders like twice or thrice a week because I cannot bear to use them when they look brown. I have a How to Wash your Makeup Brush post here.

Change your Pillow Cases Often
This is a really new lifestyle change for me and I am loving it.  I just realised that my pillow cases may have been harbouring some oils/dirt/germs  which were irritating my skin and causing me to break out. I discovered this because I noticed I was always breaking out on one side of my cheeks. I was perplexed as to why on earth this would happen and then realised that this was the cheek I slept on. That’s when it hit me that my pillow case must have been harbouring some oils, dirt or bacteria which were building up and irritating my skin. I went to Primark and Sainsbury's and purchased a few pillow cases and now, I hardly break out on that side of my cheek. I know this may seem like a lot to do but honestly, the few pounds or dollars you may spend on new pillow cases may well save your skin. I just try and rotate them every day or every other day and I am good to go. If you live in Nigeria and you don't want to spend too much money, you could pop into Aswani Market and get some affordable pillow cases (just ensure you wash them really well).

Side Bangs/Hairstyles touching your Face
Who would have thought this had anything to do with my breakouts? I use hair extensions to make my braids and weaves as they are easier to manage than my afro. Sometimes, I use some products on them  to keep them looking healthy as they don’t grow out of my scalp to receive any nutrients, moisture or shine. Some of these products may build up on the hair and could potentially cause some irritation if my hair touches my face. I find that if my hair style involves bangs and side sweeps, it means I have some hair touching my face. The  product build up on the hair usually breaks me out especially when the hair is consistently touching my face.  I am not sure if it is the oils or products in the hair or the actual hair extension that my skin does not like but it just leads to break outs. I try to put my hair in a silk night cap and use a fresh pillow case to prevent this. Most times,  I  prefer hairstyles that don’t involve side sweeps or bangs so nothing is touching my face. My skin feels better when I just have my afro because nothing touches my face and it's my real hair so no irritation caused whatsoever. If I have extensions, I prefer to opt for a middle part so that all my hair is swept away from my face. If you notice breakouts on only one part of your face or forehead, it may be caused by the hair style you have (or your sleeping position).

Wipe your Phone Screen Regularly
This was also another “eureka” moment for me. If you wear makeup or you just have combination or oily skin, you may have some dirt/oil/makeup residue left on your phone after a phone call. I know this may sound disgusting but sometimes my screen sometimes looks gross after I have made a phone call especially if I have a full face of makeup. I always wipe it afterwards if this happens because I love to have a pristine phone like everyone else.  Sometimes, I go the extra step and use a phone screen cleaner and a microfibre cloth which gets rid of some stubborn oils and even germs. Your skin especially near your cheeks will thank you for it and your phone will definitely look better. Honestly, this has really helped and I try never to use anyone else's phone to answer calls because I don't want any germs being transferred either ways. I find that even if you don't wear makeup, your skin's natural oils mixed with other environmental impurities may build up on your phone and still cause breakouts if you don't clean your phone. 

Remove your makeup at the end of the day/Cleanse your skin
To be honest, I have never had a problem taking off my makeup or cleansing my face every night. I just enjoy it and it makes me feel like I have no care in the world when my face is clean. The kind of cleansers or method you use is all dependent on what works best for your skin. There are different types of makeup removers including wipes (which I know is controversial but better than nothing), cleansing oils, cleansing balms, micellar waters, hot cloth cleansers and milky cleansers. It's also important to remember that removing your makeup is not the same as cleansing your face. If you wear makeup, it is good to do a double cleanse where you remove your makeup first and then go in with another cleanser.  Even if I didn't wear makeup, I still do a double cleanse  to get rid of any moisturiser/sunscreen/serums and any grime from the environment and then nourish my skin. I try not to use anything too harsh and I wash my face twice a day. A lot of people have said washing your face too much may exacerbate your acne but I think it all depends on your skin type. It has never been a problem for me. I always ensure I replenish the moisture and natural oils my skin may have lost during cleansing using a good skincare routine. I am not afraid of using oils on my skin at all as it helps balance out oil levels.  If you have the time to put on makeup, you need to carve out time to take it off (my personal mantra that helps me). If you don’t remove your makeup, then you can stand the risk of clogging your pores which can lead to breakouts. Sleeping in your makeup is not the best especially if you have acne/blemish prone skin. Also, your bedding and pillow cases may harbour some germ/dirt, etc  if you don't remove your makeup and may further cause breakouts even when you have cleansed your skin (if you don't change your beddings). I know I sound like a Mum now but seriously, it's so important to make an effort. One good tip is keep a small bottle of micellar water and cotton pads near your bed and that would help if you feel too tired to take your makeup off.

Investing in Flannels/Muslin Cloth
I have to say this is one of the best affordable changes I have made that has helped my skin so much. I have always had muslin cloths or flannels for drying my face after my skincare routine. However, I used one each week which was not doing my skin any favours as I was just reintroducing germs and bacteria to my face . It was undoing all the good work from my skincare routine. A few years ago, I popped into Primark and purchased a few more flannels for £1 or so and I have not looked back. Two years I ago, I discovered Wilko sells the softest flannels ever for 30p. Yes, 30p can you imagine that? Needless to say, I purchased so many flannels that right now I can go a whole month or two using a different one everyday. The key here is to use a clean flannel every day (you could use the same one morning and night or a different one in the morning and night). I prefer to use one every day both for morning and night and my skin loves it. Only very few things in this world can come compare to the feeling of a fresh clean flannel on your skin. The best part is it's so cheap. For £5, you can get 15 flannels which is insane and that should last you for two weeks before you wash them. If you don't take anything from this post, just try and get new flannels for use everyday and thank me later.

Find what works for you and stick to it
One thing I have learnt from my skincare journey is that effective products don’t necessarily have to be expensive. I have used products that have cost me an eye but did nothing for my skin. I have used many affordable and even indigenous local products that have absolutely worked. It is very tempting to want to try out many products. This may drive your skin insane and do more harm than good. No matter what; I would always give products at least one month for a trial. This is because it takes around 28 days for the skin to replenish itself or rejuvenate or any improvements to show. Of course, if a product is really bad for your skin, you need to stop immediately. I feel having a good skincare routine combined with these lifestyle changes has helped my skin over time.

Overall Thoughts
That's pretty much all my tips and recommendations. As mentioned earlier, these are just my experiences and changes that have worked for me. I am quite confident they would work for you but it is more important to find out the root cause of your acne and make the necessary lifestyle change. I still get hormonal breakouts sometimes but they are much less frequent than before where I used to get them for sure every month Mother nature appeared. Please do let me know any more lifestyle changes that have worked for you. What lifestyle changes have you made to deal with acne?


  1. Such a great post, I finally got a muslin cloth the other day, free with a cleanser purchase and as of yet I haven't touched it because I couldn't possibly believe that using a flannel would help my skin. This post has made me rethink that completely, I will be ditching the rough towels in favour of the muslin cloths now! Thanks for sharing x

    Kiran |

    1. Thank you so much and I am glad you found this post helpful!! I definitely love my Flannel/Muslin cloths and they have worked really well for my skin especially with using new clean ones everyday...xx

  2. Thanks for this post, running off to make some skin care changes.....

    1. hahaha, thank you for reading and all your support...xx

  3. My skin have gone through literal hell, i am on the verge of breaking down. I have gone through no acne to millions at a time, to extremely sensitive that everything i used even ordinary stuff that never stung started to sting, to extremely dry it started flaking. But i have decided to keep my head high and keep trying. Thank you for your tips.

    Simply Uneeke

    1. I can only imagine dear!!! One thing you can be sure of is that it won't last forever!!! Sometimes, it just goes away on its own and it's most shocking. I would say my Acne clearing definitely had more to do with my lifestyle changes as opposed to skincare!! I am sure the light at the end of the tunnel is near now for you. Don't give up and thanks for stopping by...xx

  4. Really great tips there. You skin is looking good gurrrl. I think skincare products are only half the story as you say. On the dairy front, I believe it's linked to the hormones and antibiotics fed to cows which finds its way in to milk and affects humans. x

    1. Thank you so much darlyn!! I am so glad my skin has improved!! It's really heart wrenching getting breakouts and most times makeup can't cover bumps on the skin at all. Yes, you are totally right with the hormones added into dairy. I have been doing a whole load of research on it and it's one of the biggest causes of my acne although I appreciate that many people have different types of acne (and what causes it). I totally agree that Lifestyle changes are definitely one of the best things to have helped clear my acne...xx


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