How to get rid of acne scars on back

Previously I have covered the topic of sweat pimples which often appear on the back, hence we associate them with back acne. However, not all back acne are sweat pimples, vice versa. Back acne can appear for the same reason as facial acne. It can be due to hormonal changes, stress, bad hygiene, etc. What frustrating is not only the active back acne, but also back acne scars. Let’s talk more about how to get rid of acne scars on back.

Preventing dark acne scars on the back

how to get rid of acne scars on back_back facial

Acne scars on the back can be frustrating. If you are prone to hyperpigmentation from your facial acne, you are likely to have hyperpigmentation from your back acne as well. Before you focus on how to get rid of acne scars on back, you should focus on getting the back acne under control first. The more you have active acne on the back, the more dark acne scars you may get. You can choose to have back facial, where they remove blackheads and clogged pores on your back. These blackheads or clogged pores can be recipes for active acne. 

Also, my mistake with my own acne on the back is I picked them. And it was difficult not to do that back then because it was itchy and painful. So, I squeezed and picked on them. This is not advisable at all, please do not do this at any cost. If you can go to dermatologist straight away to control the active back acne, please do it. 

When you have active acne or even dark acne scars on your back, refrain from sunbathing under the sun baring your back. This is because the sunlight can actually worsen your hyperpigmentation on the back. Cover your back for now and limit the UV overexposure on your back. 

Get rid of dark acne scars on back

The question remains, how to get rid of acne scars on back? There are some ways to do it.

Back exfoliation using BHA

I have written before about my love for Paula’s Choice products especially its BHA 2% in another post. Not only that I use it for my face, I also use it on my back. This is helpful in exfoliating the skin as well as making sure the pores are clear. As mentioned earlier, if you want to deal with the acne scars on back, you will need to also stop the new acne scars from appearing.

Increase cell turnover using Tretinoin

Tretinoin or retinoic acid helps our facial skin to be smoother and brighter post-acne. This is because tretinoin helps to increase skin turnover, hence revealing the skin underneath. Same goes for our back. If you want to get rid of the top layer of the skin faster, you can apply tretinoin on your dark acne scars as well. Make sure you moisturize your back too after you do this as tretinoin can cause peeling.

Acne scars brightening using Vitamin C

Vitamin C serum is super useful to brighten my facial hyperpigmentation. To get rid of dark acne scars on back, I put generous amount of this serum to cover the broad area of my back affected by the acne scars. I put it every night before sleep, and wait until it dries before I put on clothes. You can use any type of vitamin C serum. In my case I use the Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum that I love.

Laser skin rejuvenation treatment for acne scars

If you have extra funds, you can choose to go to a clinic to do laser treatment to get rid of dark acne scars on back. However, this can be quite expensive as normally for laser treatment, they will charge you based on how big is the area that needs to be treated. If your back acne scars cover a large area on your back, this can be very costly. Read more about my experience doing laser acne scar removal treatment in Singapore.

How to get rid acne scars on back effectively?

If you follow the recommendations above, I am pretty sure you will see some improvements with your acne scars on the back. However, do not just treat the acne scars topically, but also from within. Drink enough water. Exercise and get the body moving and the body sweaty. Take vitamins that are high in antioxidant like Vitamin C, that can help with your immune system and also make your skin brighter and glowing from within. I have been religiously putting Vitamin C, tretinoin and BHA on rotation every night; while at the same time taking Vitamin C daily.

See my back acne in December 2021 vs today – the dark acne scars are not completely gone but a least they are fading away, and also I have close to none active back acne.

how to get rid of acne scars on back_back facial December 2021
how to get rid of acne scars on back_back facial May 2022

Acne Before and After: A 12-year Journey

I have shown you my face at one of the worst times along this acne journey. In my older post before, I have shown you how I had red bumps all over my face, and painful pimples on temples and forehead. You might want to see the photos of my acne before and after. 

My struggle with acne throughout the years

2022 - Singapore

acne before and after_2022

This is me this year. Clear skin, only occasional breakouts that are manageable. I have learned to manage my stress better, improve my sleep quality, and maintain a healthy diet. At the same time, I use good quality skincare products that are suitable for my skin and also continue taking zinc supplements and antioxidants.

2017 - Taiwan

acne before and after_2017

Pardon my messy hair, I literally just got out of the shower. Even though my skin right now is still far from my ideals, I always remember when my skin was far worse. This acne before and after photos are reminders to me to be grateful for how far I have come. I arrived at this state of clearer skin mainly through a better understanding of skincare.

2015 - Hong Kong

acne before and after_2015

I was doing a job that I did not like. Moreover, I was so busy with work that I did not have the time and energy to maintain a healthy diet. Also, I often had problems sleeping due to poor stress management. My poor skin condition was due to a few reasons. First, I had some understanding of the sugar acne relationship and a good diet for healthy skin but I did not implement it myself. Second, I did not understand skincare products and did not have a good skincare routine for my skin type. 

2009 - Singapore

infected pimples_2010 skin

I was so under so much stress preparing for my A level. Back then I was leaving alone at a dormitory, away from my parents. And I did not how to take care of myself well. For instance, I did not eat well. Sometimes I skipped dinner to study and at supper instead. I slept really late to study and could not sleep well because of stress. As a result, everything wreaked havoc my hormones. I had horrendous hormonal, cystic acne all over my face. When one acne went away, another few appeared. Consequently, I was even more stressed by my skin condition. My self esteem and confidence plummeted. Moreover, I was depressed and was in a very dark place.

Takeaway from the acne before and after

Hope this post and my acne before and after photos inspire you, whoever out there struggling with the same situation. Remember that you are not alone, there are a lot of people facing similar acne issues. The key is to listen to your own body to understand the source of your acne. I am saying that because there is no dermatologist who can pinpoint the exact root cause of your acne. It is more likely that you figure it out yourself as you know yourself best.

These photos are testament that you can improve your skin with the right knowledge of skincare and a healthy lifestyle and diet. I achieved this current state of clear skin after 12 years of battling acne.You will get there too one day, so do not be discouraged by your acne issue! 

Check out these related posts that can help you in your acne journey:

Zinc Supplement for Acne: Review

I know that it has been very long since I wrote a post. But trust me, this one will be quite informative for you all. I have touched on Pantothenic Acid for acne in my previous topic, and now I will cover zinc supplement for acne topic. You might be curious about the efficacy of zinc supplement for acne or can taking zinc help with acne? We will answer your questions in this post.

zinc supplement for acne

Why I start taking zinc supplement?

I had a serious breakout on my back when I started WFH in March. It lasted for 1 month+ and then gradually it stopped. I had stopped taking Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) for acne. This is because my skin condition was rather stable and I did not really have any breakout before that. It might be a combination of more time spent indoor at home (humid room) and less time spent under the sun that lead to a cystic breakout on my back. It was quite traumatizing to me as the breakout was painful and itchy.

I tried many things to no success: papaya enzyme balm (Lucas’ Papaw), Vitamin C serum, moisturizing it diligently, retinoid cream, BHA liquid.. and the list goes on. I reckoned it might be because of something happening internally inside my body that caused this “symptom” to appear. Not sure what that is until today, but if that’s the case I need to tackle it from inside as well.

I did take Pantothenic Acid again, for around 3 weeks. But then I stopped and was looking for an alternative because of two reasons. First, I did not see any improvement even after 3 weeks (I was impatient!). Second, I may need to increase the dosage but I suffered a bad hair fall after stopping Pantothenic Acid intake. I took 2000mg/day when I try to get my acne under control using Pantothenic Acid. It is already overdosing and I did not want to go even higher, worried about the side effects when I stop the intake one day.

Zinc supplement for acne

I did more research on other supplements for acne that I can take, which are safer and have fewer side effects. I decided to try zinc supplement for acne. Research has shown that among acne sufferers, the level of zinc in their body is lower than other people with healthy skin. I have heard a lot about zinc supplement for acne before and I did try it some years ago but did not like the effect very much. The zinc supplement that I took before gave me nausea everytime I took it. However I want to give zinc supplement another try and I tried a different type of zinc supplement this time.

I restarted my journey with zinc supplement with this Now’s Zinc Picolinate that I got from iHerb. Based on my research, this type of zinc is the best for absorption compared to other types (zinc gluconate, zinc acetate, zinc sulfate, zinc orotate, zinc citrate).

zinc supplement for acne_zinc picolate

How to take zinc supplement?

I was careful in choosing the dosage as well and planning how much I want to ingest every day. Too much zinc in your body might cause depletion in other minerals like copper, among other side effects. It is best to keep the daily intake of zinc up to 40mg, according to many sources including WebMD. However, I did try with 50mg per day of Zinc Picolinate and combined it with L-lysine. The combo of zinc & l-lysine has been tried and tested by many people to be effective to fight acne.

Lysine is one type of amino acid and it helps in the building of collagen. L-lysine is commonly used to fight cold sores. Like zinc, L-lysine is also useful to build the body’s immune system. In times of coronavirus, it is also good to take this combo to improve your body’s immunity against viruses. Watch this Youtube video for more info on the combination of L-lysine and zinc supplement for acne.

I usually take my zinc supplement with food or right after food. I take L-lysine 1 hour after.

Can taking zinc help with acne?

Yes! Around 1 month after taking this combo, I saw improvement in my back acne. It dried up, not inflamed anymore. The impact was also obvious on my face. For someone who has very sensitive skin and easily has redness on the skin due to inflammation, at last, I did not have red patches anymore and small pimples do not become red big pimples as easily anymore. This is a major major benefit of my experience with the L-lysine and zinc supplement combination. I totally recommend exploring this route if you are suffering from inflammatory acne.

Do I still take zinc supplement for my skin?

My acne is under control right now, I only have breakout on the chin area nearing my period. I do not take L-lysine anymore but I still take zinc with lower dosage (20mg) every day for skin maintenance purpose. If you have experience with l-lysine and/or zinc supplement for acne, how effective is it for you? Leave your comment below if you have tried it out as well!

Learn more about skin health, acne and skincare with me!

Sweat Pimples: Get rid of this back acne!

Sweat pimples suck and I bet everyone agrees on this. It is always that something that holds me back from buying tops or dresses with low cut. My chest or back acne is not always there, but they often appear suddenly on days when I need to wear more revealing tops or dresses – who can relate? A lot of times, your back acne or chest acne can be sweat pimples. Basically, it is a deadly combination of sweat, heat and friction with other surfaces that causes these pimples to appear. We have previously touched facial acne like pimples on temples on this blog. Now we will talk about sweat pimples, which normally appear on the body.

bacne meme.jpeg

Does sweat cause pimples?

Sweat itself does not cause pimples. But a combination of sweat, bacteria on the skin, heat, friction with other surfaces like clothing can cause pimples to appear. Pimples are basically infection, and sweat alone will not cause infection. 

How to get rid of these sweat pimples?

Whenever I have these pimples, there are some tricks that I have tried and worked well so far. You can test it yourself. There is no guarantee they will work, but it’s worth trying. I have little sweat pimples on my back now, as you can see in this photo here.

sweat pimples_clear back

Cold(er) water for shower

The first time I had bacne breakout was during winter in Hong Kong. During that time, I really enjoyed taking a long hot shower after work. Little did I know, it caused a very bad breakout on my back. Huge angry pimples appearing on my back and I needed to treat them with my pimple cream. Eventually what calmed the pimples down was by applying moisturizer on my back. From this experience, I learnt that what caused the breakout was the skin on my back being overly dry and it was due to the hot shower.

From there, I tried to lower the temperature of the water I use for shower and when I wanted to indulge myself in hot shower I would still do it but for a shorter period of time. I would suggest using colder water for shower, or even cold water if you can take it. Apart from benefitting our skin, cold shower is good for our hair and also gives several other medical benefits.

Change the order within your shower routine

What is your shower routine? The best routine to get rid of sweat pimples is one that ensure residue from your conditioner does not remain on your back. This can aggravate the clogged pores that caused these pimples in the first place. 

My routine is shampoo-rinse-conditioner-rinse-bodywash-rinse. Also, after rinsing the conditioner I’ll put my hair up so that it does not touch my back, and then i go ahead with my bodywash. Doing the bodywash at the last part of the shower routine will make sure that all the remains from the conditioner will be washed away.

Use gentle cleanser for your back

Skin on our back can be sensitive to harsh chemicals too. Similar to the way we treat our facial skin, use gentle cleanser without harsh surfactants for our back. I personally used Dettol (original) bar soap when I suffered from sweat pimples and back acne and it helped greatly in reducing the pimple occurrence. You can also use any body cleanser containing Salicylic Acid, which can help to exfoliate the skin chemically, not just physically.

Gently scrub the back and chest when showering

Your back is like your face, it needs some exfoliation once in a while. Use loofah or shower puff to scrub your back gently. Depending on the severity of the sweat pimples or back acne, be mindful when scrubbing your back. This is to avoid aggravating the sweat pimples by scrubbing it to hard.

Wear breathable fabric and looser fit for clothing

I am very picky about clothing material – it needs to be breathable and comfortable on my skin. I do not think this is the trigger of the pimples on my back, but I believe some clothing materials can increase the likelihood of sweat pimples. Avoid wearing tight and pressing clothing when you are having these pimples or back acne. Also, use materials that are breathable and sweat-absorbing like cotton. Sweat, humidity, and dirt trapped together is recipe for sweat pimples and back acne.

Avoid carrying backpack

This is based on my personal experience when I was studying for university in HK. Summer days are unforgivingly hot and humid. I always carried a backpack with my books and laptop inside. My back acne flared up during that time, which I believe is caused by the sweaty back and the backpack that I carried blocking the sweat from evaporating. Moreover, when your back is wet and then it comes into contact with your backpack that you wash only once in a while, the bacteria from your backpack can come in touch with your skin eventually. It goes without saying that this is a recipe for sweat pimples.. Let your back breathe by carrying tote bag temporarily!

How to prevent these sweat pimples? Or, is it possible to prevent it? 

If you are active in playing sports and are often sweaty, it will be hard to prevent these pimples at all. Also, if you live in a humid hot weather, you can’t run away from sweat pimples either. You can lower the chance of getting these pimples though if you follow the recommendations above. 

Nonetheless, sweat pimples or back acne issues are more than skin deep. There might be other factors that increase your tendency to develop sweat pimples or back acne. You can try to solve your body acne issues using a multi-pronged approach. For example, exercise more, do the Japanese water therapy, eat more fresh vegetables and eliminate junk food, take supplements that support skin health like zinc, among many others. The cause of these pimples/acne can vary greatly among individuals and there is no one size fits all solution so trial and error might be needed to find the best solution for yourself.

Learn more about acne and skin health with me!

Pantothenic Acid for Acne: Review

I have tried changing my diet to get rid of acne before. It did work well. However, there was a period of time when I could not follow the restrictions. My skin worsened. It made me wonder whether there is something lacking in my body that caused me to have persistent breakouts. This led to me researching and I found out about Pantothenic Acid for acne improvement. I will explain more about my experience taking Pantothenic Acid for acne, Vitamin B5 benefits for skin, and how to take Pantothenic Acid for acne. 

pantothenic acid for acne_pills

Vitamin B5 benefits for skin

Vitamin B5 is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential in our body metabolism, acting as a coenzyme in an energy-producing chemical reaction. It is also important to regulate blood sugar levels. There is no research that explicitly explains the role of vitamin B5 in acne control. However, there are theories out there that lay out some possible causation relationships between the vitamin and acne. One of them is that Vitamin B5 is required to produce Coenzyme A (CoA). This coenzyme is essential for fat metabolism and the production of hormones, to mention a few. With limited CoA, the priority is to use CoA to produce hormones leaving the lower levels of CoA available for fat metabolism. Consequently, the body can’t process fat effectively and it accumulates in the body; causing high sebum production and therefore acne. Here is how the vitamin B5 acne link was born.

How to take Pantothenic Acid for acne? 

There is a science-backed online source that recommends 750mg of Pantothenic Acid combined with 250 mg of L-carnitine for severe acne. If you have mild acne, you can reduce the dosage. The combination with L-carnitine is optional, but some people say that it helps to ‘boost’ the effect of Pantothenic Acid in regulating sebum production on the skin. Personally, I just took Pantothenic Acid without L-carnitine.

A lot of research mentions that it is okay to take a higher dose than recommended as long as you don’t go extremely high because the excess amount will go out from the body along with urine (given that the vitamin is water-soluble). You can choose to reduce the dosage after your skin clears up if you are worried about over-consuming the vitamin. Please do more research on this, especially if you have certain medical conditions.

Also, be mindful that whatever we take orally might interact with one another. Check out this article on what drugs/substances might interact with Pantothenic Acid.

Based on my experience, how effective is Pantothenic Acid for acne?

Pantothenic Acid did help me to a certain extent in controlling my acne. I stopped getting those angry red bumps on my face after consuming Pantothenic Acid two months ago. However, from my experience, I developed a dependency on this vitamin. When I stopped taking Pantothenic Acid for my skin, acne started to pop out again. 

If you want to try out taking Pantothenic Acid for acne and confirm the Vitamin B5 benefits for the skin, you should do it diligently for a few months at least. You will not see the effect in a few weeks’ time, not to mention overnight. The photo below shows my skin 2 months after Pantothenic Acid and Japanese water therapy.

pantothenic acid for acne_clear skin

Should you try Pantothenic Acid for acne then?

[Update from 2022] I am writing this final paragraph after I stopped taking this vitamin. From my personal experience, the side effect of stopping the intake is quite bad on my hair. I had a bad hair fall for a few months after I stopped taking Pantothenic Acid for acne. I read on Reddit that this is not uncommon, so watch out for this! There is a Youtube video by Dr. Dray that is very informative on Pantothenic Acid for acne and its efficacy. Check it out.

At the end of the day, every human body is built differently. What did not work for me might work wonderfully on some of you. I suggest you can give it a try, but observe how your body reacts to it. If it does not fit you, you can find other supplements that can help with your skin health. I have long switched to taking Zinc supplements, which have been working well for me for the past few years now. I cover my experience with Zinc supplement for acne in this other post, so check it out.

Learn about acne, skincare and skin health with me!

AHA vs BHA: Best Exfoliator for Acne

What are AHA and BHA? We may often encounter these names on skincare products and are not really sure what they are. They are chemical exfoliators that are very potent in unclogging pores on the surface and from within. In my opinion, they are the best exfoliator for acne and acne prone skin. I have covered the topic of skin barrier repair products, which can help with acne. Now, let’s educate ourselves a little bit on these potent exfoliating chemicals and also learn about AHA vs BHA.

AHA vs BHA: what is AHA and what is BHA?

AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid. It is derived from natural substances like sugar cane, milk, and some fruits. There are AHAs that are derived synthetically as well. AHA is a water-loving/hydrophilic, water-soluble acid with small molecules. They exfoliate the surface of the skin and at the same time hydrate the skin. Most of the workings by AHA are on the surface of the skin. That is, they do not penetrate deep into the pores or deeper layer of the skin. However, they are still a potent ingredient to rejuvenate aging skinAHA is also the best exfoliator for acne that is smaller, only on the surface and less severe.

BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acid. It is oil-loving acid and therefore can penetrate deeper into the skin pores and get through the sebum that clogs the pores. BHA exfoliates the skin by refining and normalizing the lining of the skin pore. Moreover, BHA is also anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Therefore it is often used to treat blackheads, whiteheads and acne. The most common type of BHA is salicylic acid. BHA is the best exfoliator for acne that is deeper in the skin because it works its way to skin deeper layers.

Now you understand AHA vs BHA and the difference in the way they work on the skin. The combination of their varying functions makes AHA and BHA the best exfoliator for acne.

AHA vs BHA: Incorporate in your routine

best exfoliator for acne_skincare

When people hear the word “chemical” or “acid”, they often feel scared to put this substance on their skin. Do not fret! There are some acids that are good for the skin. And when used properly in the right range of concentration, they can do your skin wonder. In fact, AHA and BHA may be a game-changer in your skincare routine. This is especially so if you are dealing with clogged pores, dull and tired skin, aging skin, and acne.

AHA and BHA are the best exfoliator for acne prone skin. They are chemical exfoliator, as opposed to physical exfoliators like St Yves facial scrub. For people with sensitive, acne-prone skin with breakouts, you should never scrub your skin. When your skin is breaking out and irritated, the last thing you should do is to scrub and irritate it further. You might be tempted to scrub your face hoping to get rid of the dead skin cells, dirt, and sebum that clog the pores. However, you can do it using a gentler method using AHA and BHA. If you are not sure to use AHA vs BHA, try both and start with a lower concentration.

How to use AHA vs BHA?

To get the benefits of the best exfoliator for acne, you need to understand how to use them.

Rather than picking AHA vs BHA, you can use both within the same day but alternate them. For instance, AHA in the morning and BHA at night or vice versa. I recommend not to use any of these products in the morning as they make your skin more photosensitive. So the best way to use AHA and BHA is to use them on alternate nights.

When using AHA or BHA, your skin becomes more sensitive to light and more prone to hyperpigmentation. Always use sunscreen with SPF 50, whether you leave the house or not as sun rays still get into the house through windows or doors. Moreover, don’t forget to reapply every 3-4 hours.

Don’t combine AHA or BHA products with Vitamin C. AHA, BHA and Vitamin C altogether may be too acidic and too harsh for the skin. Be kind to your skin barrier. If your skin barrier is damaged, your are prone to skin irritation.

I apply AHA or BHA after cleansing at night. If you want to combine these best exfoliator for acne you can use this order: AHA/BHA, facial essence, moisturizer or hydrating serums. If you use hydrating toner, you can do it in this order: AHA/BHA, toner, and moisturizer.

What best exfoliator for acne to try?

AHA is effective in the range of 5-15%, while BHA is effective in the range of 1-2%. When you start you can use it 2-3 times a week at first, starting from low percentage of acid when you are introducing these products onto your skin before working your way up if you think this works for you. If you want to incorporate AHA and BHA on daily basis, you can use products that have a lower percentage of the acids (low percentage, but high frequency).

Other than using BHA as actives, you can also use BHA in the cleansing step of your skincare routine. Some “anti-acne” or “deep cleansing” cleansers often have salicylic acid (BHA) in their formulation. Examples are Cerave Renewing SA Cleanser, Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser, to name a few.

Favorite best exfoliators for acne

  • Paula’s choice BHA (2% BHA) – I am currently using this. So far I am satisfied with the results. You use it consistently for 1-2 weeks and you can notice that your nose pores look more refined, and the blackheads / sebaceous filaments production seems to be under control.
  • Alpha-H Liquid Gold (5% Glycolic Acid) – This product has received rave reviews from a lot of skincare junkies. It contains glycolic acid, and it exfoliates while moisturizing the skin at the same time. It is ideal for aging, tired-looking skin. In fact, this brand has a myriad of glycolic acid-containing products to choose from.
  • CosRx Pimple Clear Pad (0.5% BHA) – Good for beginners on BHA. This contains a very low percentage of BHA. However, if your skin is very sensitive and you want to see how BHA works for you, try this out. This product is one of the bestsellers from CosRx (a Korean brand).
  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (AHA and BHA blend 12%)This might be too advanced for those who want to start using AHA / BHA for the first time. The percentage of AHA BHA is high and you may feel some tingling sensation when you use this. However with persistent usage, many find this blend really smoothes their skin, making their skin more glowing and radiant.

Spot treatment using the best exfoliator for acne

If you have acne and you are into homemade stuff, I bet you have heard or maybe you have even tried an aspirin mask. This mask is a tried and tested method to treat your acne at home. It works well on acne or pimples because of the salicylic acid contained in aspirin. What you do is crush a few uncoated aspirins and mix them with water or honey (honey is moisturizing). We recommend that you use honey in your mask mix to prevent your skin from becoming overly dry.

Bear in mind that this mask is quite drying on the skin, so if you have some pimples here and there, you may want to just spot treat the pimples. The BHA  will help to calm the inflammation on your skin down and therefore reduce redness and swelling. Don’t forget to put on moisturizer or facial oil after rinsing off the mask. This best exfoliator for acne is not limited to toning the skin, but you can use it for spot treatment as well.

Should you use AHA vs BHA as best exfoliator for acne? 

You should try either AHA, BHA or both. I am glad I try them out early and reap the benefits on my skin. They really helped me with my whiteheads, clogged pores, blackheads, and my persistent issue with acne. I will continue using AHA and BHA in my skincare routine for the rest of my life. So, start your journey with these best exfoliator for acne today!

Learn more about skincare, acne and skin health with me!

Sugar Acne Link: How Sugar Causes Acne

Some might not believe that there is a connection between food and acne. Specifically sugar and acne. You might say, “my friend always eat junk food and her skin is super clear. Is diet really important for acne?”, and my answer will be a resounding YES. Some people have genetic predisposition that makes them not prone to acne, and food will not affect the balance of their hormones and their skin health that much. But if you do have acne, you should not adopt the same lifestyle as they do. Previously, I have covered lifestyle changes for acne. In this post, we will discuss sugar acne relationship. There are many questions out there about “acne from sugar consumption” or “breakout from sugar consumption”. You also might wonder “why does sugar cause acne?”. We will discuss them here, so continue reading.

Why does sugar cause acne?

Our body needs sugar to function, however there is a possibility that sugar can cause acne. And some people are more prone to this than others. Let me explain the sugar acne relationship here. 

When you consume sugar or carbohydrates that get converted to sugar eventually, you will have spikes in blood sugar level. Spikes in blood sugar can cause a few things. First, inflammation throughout your body. Second, increased production of sebum/oil in your skin. A combination of inflammation and sebum production can lead to acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), scientists believe that low-glycemic diet can help with acne. 

Glycemic index refers to the ability of carbohydrate-containing food to increase blood sugar. Low glycemic index means the food will increase blood sugar in low amount, vice versa.

sugar acne_sugary food

How to prevent breakout from sugar consumption?

The answer is, limit sugar consumption in the first place! When I went to my nutritionist, she recommended me a diet based on the sugar acne relationship that we discussed above. The gist of the diet is to reduce inflammation in the body and regulate hormones. That can be achieved by avoiding consumption of anything that can cause inflammation and spike the hormones, including carbs/sugar. Other than that alcohol, caffeine, red meat are also in the list of things to avoid.

Diet to Regulate Hormones and Minimize Sugar

Restrictions on (means none or very minimum amount of):

  • Simple carbs including bread, rice, noodle, potato
  • Dairy (lactose is not good for skin and it might contain hormones from the cow as well)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • High Glycemic Index fruits 
  • Red meat like pork/beef (because they have hormones injected to them by farmers)


  • Romaine salad to replace carbs, with tomato and cucumber as the main companions to the romaine. no mayonnaise for salad dressing
  • Fruits only limited to apple and orange. Half an apple or half an orange a day
  • Fish and chicken as protein source
  • Omega 3 and Vitamin C as every day supplements
  • Basking under the morning (8 am / 9 am) sun for 30 minutes every day

I went through with this diet for almost 2 years because I was so tired of my acne and breakouts. As a result from the diet, I felt very energized and healthy. Moreover, my skin has never been clearer and for the first time, I felt good in my own skin again. What’s better is that it is sustainable. Unlike your visits to dermatologist where they give you topical cream that might stop your acne. However, when you stop using the cream your acne comes back again, and it comes back worse than before.

sugar acne_clear skin

Given the sugar acne relationship, should you change your diet?

If you want to take the sustainable route of fixing your acne problem, this is worth trying. It sounds simple, but it is hard to maintain. However, it was worth it and I learnt a lot from this understanding of sugar acne relationship and from adopting the diet.

This diet taught me how:

  1. To be in control of my acne
  2. Our body works and how food may affect our skin health
  3. Not to rely on skincare products, but instead fix my imbalances from within

In the course of 2 years I did not always follow the restrictions to the T. I played around with recipes on my own. For example, if I craved rice, I substituted rice with quinoa (a better “grain” alternative). You will learn to be creative in this whole journey and it will also open up your horizon to the world of nutrition.

By changing your diet, not only that you can clear your acne, but you will also be healthier in the process. You may not need to adopt the diet too strictly over time, but you can learn what is your acne trigger and minimize its consumption. I shared my experience when I took the route of laser acne treatment, which did not solve the root cause of my acne. It is not only expensive, but also not effective. 

Skin Barrier Repair: How To & Products

I am a big believer in treating acne sustainably from within and through lifestyle changes. Previously I have covered lifestyle changes for acne, Japanese water therapy, and how exercise can help with acne. This time I will pivot a little bit and talk about products to apply to the skin. The focus will be on products for skin barrier repair. In this post, we will talk about how long to repair the skin barrier, how to repair your skin barrier and the best skin barrier repair products.

The need for skin barrier repair

How can the skin barrier get damaged in the first place? First, you might damage your skin barrier when you use the wrong skincare products. Products that are too harsh on the skin and damage the natural skin mantle can compromise the skin barrier. Second, you might handle your skin in the wrong way. For example, using water that is too hot on the skin or using facial scrub that is too rough. When the skin barrier is compromised, the skin might be dehydrated, sensitized, and more prone to infection.  

How to repair your skin barrier

You can repair your skin barrier by changing the way you handle your skin. Observe how you handle your skin every day. Starting from when you take a shower or wash your face to the products that you use for skincare. Do you use water that is too hot that it dehydrates your skin? Do you use a facial cleanser that is suitable for your skin type? For example, if your skin is dry, you should not use a cleanser meant for oily skin. Do you use a facial scrub that is too harsh on the skin? If your skin is already sensitized, do you continue using your facial scrub for exfoliation? And do you hydrate and moisturize your skin enough, especially given your living condition? For example, if you always stay in an air-conditioned room that can dehydrate the skin, you need to moisturize your skin enough. 

Building an understanding of what kind of skin you have is also important. If your skin tends to be sensitive, when you try acids or serums, try the lower concentration first before amping it up to the higher one. Skincare products that are too strong, especially acids or retinol, can damage your skin instead of improving its condition. 

skin barrier repair_healthy skin

How long to repair skin barrier

Once the skin barrier is damaged, the skin barrier repair process might take time. The skin needs to return to its original optimal condition in its own time. You may need to change the way you tend to your skin. Moreover, you will need to revisit the skincare products that you use, and really assess which one works for you, and which does not. Personally, it takes me a couple of years to get my skin to where I want to be after all my breakout episodes. I have been maintaining my healthy lifestyle and skincare to keep my skin at its optimum level. 

Skin barrier repair: steps to take

Revisit how you wash your face

Use lukewarm water to wash your face. In the morning, if you do not need to use a cleanser, you can opt for micellar water to gently take away your overnight skincare products on your skin. Milk cleanser can be an option too if your skin is easily dehydrated. Do not wash your face too often. This is because every time you wash your face, you are stripping away the natural oil on the skin.

Revisit how you dry your face

After washing your face, pat your skin dry. Do not rub your face too hard with the towel. If you are suffering from acne and worry about germs, you can pat your skin dry with a tissue. This way, you do not need to dry your face with the same towel every time.  

Avoid harsh chemicals

Try to treat your skin more gently. If you have acne, you might want to use all means to get rid of it quickly. Therefore you might use too much of anti-acne products, or overexfoliate your skin. Evaluate your skin reaction to these products. Sometimes these products are too harsh on the skin, especially those with higher concentration. Do not confuse actives concentration with product effectiveness. Products that are too high in actives concentration might damage your skin rather than benefit the skin. Pay attention to how your AHA, BHA or retinol affect your skin condition.

Another chemical that we should look out for is Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS). This is common in any skin cleansers. It is a surfactant that can help to loosen dirt from the skin surface, hence helping in the cleansing process. However, research has shown that it can penetrate the dermal layers and disrupts the natural oil and moisture layer. It can also disrupt the pH level of the skin, which can compromise skin health and immunity. Our skin pH is at 5.5 and SLS is more alkaline at ph 7. Skincare products at lower pH that is closer to our skin natural pH at 5.5 will work better with the skin.

skin barrier repair_applying skincare product

The best skin barrier repair products

Brands that work for different people may differ. However, in essence, gentle skincare products with the right concentration for your skin type, and with the right pH level will be good for your skin barrier. Also, hydration and moisturization of the skin are super important for your skin to function at its optimal level. If you want to add some antioxidants, they can boost resiliency and help your skin to fight free radicals as well. 

These are the best skin barrier repair products in my skincare routine, I will break it down based on morning vs evening routine.

Morning routine

  1. Cleanser – SebaMed Anti Bacterial Cleansing Foam
  2. Serum – Hada Labo Hyaluronic acid, followed by Mad Hippie Vitamin C
  3. SPF – L’oreal UV Perfect Super Aqua Essence SPF 50

The cleanser is good for sensitive, acne-prone skin. It keeps the natural skin pH level at around 5.5. I usually leave the cleanser for 2-3 minutes on my skin before rinsing it off. After cleansing, serums are next. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant (it hydrates the skin) and Vitamin C serum is to boost the function of the SPF. I wrote about how Vitamin C is well combined with SPF in the morning in my other post. For the SPF I use anything that is not greasy and this one does the job. Another favorite is the Biore UV Aqua Rich sunscreen line.


And after all these products I put on my makeup, usually very minimal only revolving around under-eye concealer, concealer (for spot concealing), and setting powder to make my skin not shiny.

Night routine


  1. Cleansing Wipe – Makeup Removing Towelettes by Dr. Morita
  2. Cleanser – SebaMed Anti Bacterial Cleansing Foam
  3. (On alternate days) AHA/BHA – Paula’s Choice 5% AHA or Paula’s Choice 2% BHA OR Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol
  4. Moisturizer – Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream 

Choosing the right cleanser is very important. Harsh surfactants like Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS) are alkaline and will disrupt the natural skin pH balance at ~5.5 (slightly acidic). Find a gentler cleanser that is closer to skin natural pH.

AHA and BHA have been the game changer in my skincare routine. AHA makes my skin smoother, softer, more glowing and hydrated. On the other hand, BHA helps to reduce the appearance of blackheads and make my pores smaller. Don’t use AHA/BHA with Retinol at the same time because the combination might be too strong for most people.

Find out what moisturizer works best for your skin. When I use retinol, I wait for around 20 minutes before I put on moisturizer. This is to allow the retinol to sink into the skin before you put another product on top.

How’s my skin barrier repair journey so far?

I am conscious that this skin barrier repair journey cannot be rushed and I would need to allow the skin to restore its optimal condition in its time. After changing my own skincare habits, I have not been breaking out and I am very thankful for that. I believe that a good cleansing habits, proper chemical exfoliation, and generous skin hydration really can do your skin wonders. 

Since I have dry skin, skin hydration is actually super important to give me the clear, supple skin that I have always dreamed of. Hydration does not only come from skincare, but also from water intake. Japanese water therapy works well for me, and at the same time, I make sure that I drink water throughout the day. 

Find out more about acne, skincare and skin health with me!

Lifestyle Changes for Acne

I believe in holistic approach when dealing with acne and pimples. There is no one solution to fix this complex problem whose root causes can be just anything. It can be stress, unhealthy diet, hormonal imbalance, dirty environment, you name it. The cause of acne for each person may vary. When you want to tackle acne, other than applying skincare suitable for your skin type or treating your acne topically, you may want to consider some lifestyle changes to get rid of acne. We will discuss lifestyle changes for acne in this article. 

Lifestyle changes for acne to adopt

Drink a lot of water

lifestyle changes for acne_drink plenty water

Water is very important to our body. Do you know that our body can last for days without food but will not last as long without water?

One of the reasons why water is very important in keeping your skin clear is because it helps to flush out unwanted substances from our body. When we urinate, some of the toxic and unhealthy substances are taken out from our body. If we keep those substances inside the body, the body may react and one of the reactions can be in the form of acne/pimples.

Also, hydration for the body is important to ensure the body functions well, including its healing function. If the body does not operate optimally, it cannot heal from infections and inflammations like acne properly and quickly. I also covered an experiment that I did with myself on Japanese water therapy in another article here. Make sure you check it out.

Eat more vegetables and low sugar fruits

lifestyle changes for acne_vegetables fruit

Another way our body gets rid of the unwanted substances is through our feces. According to Medical News Today article, generally 3x per day to 3x per week is considered a healthy frequency for passing out our feces. However, note if your bathroom ritual requires you to put more effort or strain yourself. You are healthy and have enough fiber intake if you can pass out the feces naturally, without pushing too hard.

There are certain vegetables and fruits that have more fibers than others. Try to find leafy green vegetables and other colorful vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, corns) and fruits that are less watery but more fiber-y. Watery fruits such as watermelon will not help your digestion system much compared to fruits like papaya.

Exercise and sweat all the toxins out! 

lifestyle changes for acne_exercise sweat

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this. Your sweat may contain harmful substances that your body needs to get out. Sweat glands are one of the channels through which our body get these substances out. Sweat more, you won’t only feel better physically but also feel happier emotionally!

Do exercises that make you happy the most. I personally like dance-based exercise like Zumba or BodyJam. Sometimes when I prefer quieter activities I do hot yoga and pilates. My sister, for example, prefers yoga / pilates above anything else as she is more of a calmer person. Find the exercise that you like to do! I cover another topic on ‘Does Exercise Help Acne?‘ to dive deeper into this topic of exercise and acne. Check it out!

Sleep early and make sure you get 8 hours of quality sleep

lifestyle changes for acne_sleep well

I know this is hard to do for some people especially given the abundance of online resources, YouTube, movies that you can download on the net etc. Sometimes we just spend a lot of time before sleep browsing the web, Instagram, 9gag and other addictive stuff.. Keep in mind that you still should not sacrifice your sleeping time doing all those things. Sleep early, at  10pm to 11pm, is highly recommended to let your body function properly. Our body organs have certain schedule that they follow to rejuvenate themselves as well as to produce certain hormones/substances that are essential for the proper running of the body system.

Having 7-8 hours of sleep (quality sleep) will make you feel fresh the next morning, as well as allowing your body to function well. This sounds an easy lifestyle change for acne, but mind you it is harder to do. You will need to be really disciplined to do this consistently.

Stress less, smile more

lifestyle changes for acne_smile more

I watched the Fantastic Beast movie recently and the main character used this phrase “My philosophy is worrying means you suffer twice”. Do not worry too much about life or what is ahead of you. Focus on the present. Do your best at the current moment. Life will take unexpected turns sometimes and there is no way we can avoid that. Believe that the Higher being will always provide you with what we need to face any circumstances in life, no matter how hard they are.

Try to smile more, smile at other people. Spread sunshine to people around you, no matter how annoying or grumpy they are. Let yourself be the source of happiness to people around you, and it can start simply from a sincere smile.

Is it hard to implement these lifestyle changes for acne? 

It is simple, but might require more discipline to be consistent at it. The above lifestyle changes for acne are not exhaustive, please add more to your list as you see fit. These changes are not only lifestyle changes to get rid of acne, but they are also good for your overall life and health. If you can prioritize making these changes, one at a time, you will see improvement in your life!

Check out other posts on acne and healthy lifestyle for skin health!

La Roche Posay Effaclar Product Reviews

When it comes to products for sensitive skin, we often have doubts whether the products will actually work. If they do, amazing! If they don’t, I will give them away to friends who use them or throw them away. I am lucky that I found these three La Roche Posay Effaclar products that work for me. They are formulated in France and I got to know them from review videos on Youtube. At the time of writing, I have been using these products for almost 2 years. I reviewed best Paula’s Choice products for acne in my other post. In this post I will give you La Roche Posay reviews specifically on the Effaclar product range. I will explain these products based on the order of how I use them.


Effaclar Duo (+) to unclog pores

The Effaclar Duo product has a plastic packaging which I like very much. This is because unlike metal tubes, the plastic packaging is very durable. That is, it will not break and leak. You can also cut the tube open when it is almost finished and get the last few drops out.

On the product, it reads Corrective, unclogging care, anti-imperfections, anti-marks. I use it right after putting on moisturizer. Personally, I find it useful in keeping my breakout under control. It also helps to reduce blemishes and the occurrence of whiteheads and blackheads. Over time, it also claims to help correct imperfections on the skin. I can attest after using this for some time that this product improves my overall skin condition.

For those curious about ingredients, this contains:

  • Procerad: ceramide that protect against appearance of red or brown marks from breakout
  • Niacinamide: anti-inflammatory, soothe the skin
  • Piroctone Olamine: combat bacterial growth
  • Micro-exfoliating LHA: unclog pores

Effaclar K(+) to regulate oiliness on skin

I use this in addition to the Efflaclar Duo. Honestly, if the benefits from Effaclar Duo are sufficient for your skin, you do not need this. However, I like to be thorough in my skin regime. Also, I was looking for another product that can boost the efficiency of Effaclar Duo.

The product reads “Oily skin, renovating care, anti-oxidation, anti-sebum 8hr“. I use this because I get oily in my T-zone during the hot summer day. This helps to prevent clogging on my T-zone and regulate the sebum glands.

This product contains:

  • Antioxidant Vitamin E: shield the skin epidermis
  • Anti-sebum complex (carnosine + airlicium): protect the skin with proteins
  • Micro-exfoliating LHA: unclog pores, prevent excess sebum from oxidising into comedones

My only complaint about Effaclar K(+) is the metal packaging. This is because the tube can easily have dents and the product can easily leak out from them. Nonetheless, this does not happen very often but it happened before. Especially when I pack it in my bag during my travels.

Effaclar A.I. to spot treat acne

Effaclar A.I. is my weapon against those fat, pus-filled, angry pimples. It is a targeted breakout corrector. You just need a tiny amount of it, apply it on the pimple, and the pimple gets dry really fast. Hands down, it is the most effective targeted pimple cream I have ever used. I have tried tea tree oil ointment and Oxy cream / benzoyl peroxide before and none works as well as this one. Other products tend to be effective the first few times you use them and the efficacy dwindles over time. Also, benzoyl peroxide irritates my sensitive skin whereas Effaclar A.I. helps to spot treat the acne without irritation.

Ingredients in this product are:

  • Niacinamide: stops the evolution of breakouts
  • Piroctone olamine and glycacil: purifies the bacterial source
  • Micro-exfoliating LHA: activate the skin’s regeneration process

Should you get La Roche Posay Effaclar products?

These products are hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic so they are safe for acne prone skin.. And most importantly, these Effaclar products work really well for me. Plus, small amount goes a long long way. I am reasonable when applying them on my skin, not too stingy and not too much. In my case, I use up Effaclar Duo and Effaclar K+ within 7 to 8 months. Whereas for the Effaclar A.I., since I only use a small amount of it topically on each pimple, it lasts me for a few years.

Explore more about skincare and acne with me!