Acne, thankfully, hasn’t reared it’s ugly head since I last put it to bed during my pregnancy with Chloe. But it is a topic I like to come back to time and again and share my experiences with breakouts and scars, and share tricks I used to combat flares because I know the horrors of acne and anything I can do to help others out there struggling with the acne battle, I am all for. Recently, I did an “Ask me anything about acne” post on Instagram, where you guys sent in some great questions. I answered them on stories — saved under the ‘Acne’ saved stories highlights section on instagram — but decided to share the Q&A here for anyone who missed it!
Q: Do you believe in the Acne Face Map?
A: When I was dealing with adult acne, I wanted so desperately to believe in the Acne Face Map. Because at the time I was desperate for answers and the products I was using weren’t working and the solutions dermatologists were giving me weren’t working. So when I saw the Face Map, I was like, oh, okay, that’s what is going on and it was this nice and neat answer, that I held onto it. But what I’ve found over the last ten years of dealing with my skin and breakouts, is that the Acne Face Map is kind of BS. Or at least it is for me.
If you’re not familiar with the Acne Face Map, it breaks down different parts of the face by various organs in the body and says that if you’re breaking out in this area it’s because of an internal issue with that specific organ.
Now, I’m sure there is some truth to it. I notice when I get my period, I do breakout more frequently around my mouth area, but overall, I’ve found that lifestyle factors play a much more important role in causing my breakouts.
If I breakout around my hairline, it’s usually due to hair products or wearing hats.
When I over-exfoliate or have a weak barrier, I breakout right away around my mouth.
If I’m using a shampoo or conditioner that’s too emollient, I breakout down the sides of my face where the product washes down when I rinse my hair in the shower.
Q: How to get rid of cysts?
A: When you get a cyst, the first thing you want to do is reduce the inflammation. It’s been a really long time since I’ve had a cyst, but when I used to get them, I did a home remedy. I would steep chamomile tea bags in hot water, let it sit for a few minutes, then press out some of the liquid. Then pop them into the freezer. Once they’re cold but not frozen, I use the tea bags as a cold compress. This reduces the inflammation and redness and soothes the skin.
I noticed that when I would use drying ingredients on my cysts like — benzyl peroxide, salicylic acid, tea tree oil — all it did was just dry out my skin and inflame it even more. And I felt like it prolonged the life of my cysts and prevented them from healing. Because our skin needs moisture to heal itself, so if you have this inflamed cyst and you’re drying it out, it just becomes more red and inflamed.
Q: Best Spot Treatment when you do pop?
A: I almost never pop my pimples, but in the rare event that I do or do by accident, I take one drop of antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral tea tree oil and apply it to a cotton swab. I then dab the swab on the open wound. Next, I cover it with a large dab of pure vitamin E oil. Vitamin E oil speeds wound healing and helps to prevent scarring! Both items you can pick up off of Amazon for less than $15 and they last forever!
Q: How did you deal with acne scars?
A: I did a lot of Fraxel laser treatments to get rid of my acne scars during my late twenties. They worked really well, but looking back, they were extremely aggressive, expensive and I don’t think necessary for the type of acne scars that I had. I say this because after getting a bout of acne during my early thirties, I decided to try chemical peels first before jumping back into Fraxel to deal with the scars. I did the Tizo 10% Retinol peel and saw amazing results that rivaled fraxel laser at a fraction of the cost.
If I could go back in time, I would first force myself to assess the type of scars that I was dealing with. I know now that not all scars are alike. There are categories of scars: boxcar scars (wide, square-like and shallow), icepick scars (small, round and deep) and rolling scars (a mix of both). I had mainly boxcar scars which is why I think my skin responded so well to the chemical peels since they’re done at a very superficial level.
Fraxel laser can go very deep and I think would have been the right option if I had icepick scars. Knowing this would have saved me a lot of money.
Q: Best product to fade acne scars?
A: When you say “fade acne scars,” I’m assuiming you’re talking about the red and brown spots left once a pimple heals that is the result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These “scars” you can fade, deep depressions in the skin – those types of scars you cannot.
Okay, now that that is out of the way. The best products to fade PIH acne scars are retinol and azealic acid. They’re extremely fast at encouraging cellular turnover and repair and are able to brighten the completion dramatically in a matter of weeks.
I personally, have found a lot of success with Curology’s retinol serum and a 15% prescription strength Azealic Acid cream I got prescribed by my dermatologist.
For more acne tips and advice, check out my ‘Acne’ saved stories section on!