alle connell
photo: Brittany Fowler / Revelist

When you have acne, people LOVE to tell you all the ways that pimples are your fault.

And you know what? They're right. Every single busybody with an opinion and an internet connection is DEFINITELY correct about all the ways that you, a person who they have never met, are causing your own acne.

So here are 17 ways that you are definitely, seriously, truly causing your own acne. And I am absolutely not being satirical here. Nope. Not me.

1. "OF COURSE you have bad skin! You're covering it with so much makeup!"

how to cover zits
photo: B Fowler / Revelist

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE. The people who have said this to me — and who I see writing blog posts about how makeup causes every skin problem ever — are all UNIVERSALLY perfect of skin. They have *no idea* how acne can completely destroy your self-confidence. They’ve never had strangers on the street do a horrified double-take when they see your naked face. And they’ve probably never experienced the little confidence boost that comes from concealer, that little bit of help available so you can cover up the massive cystic zit that's practically glowing on your face, even for just a few hours.

For the VAST majority of people, makeup is not *causing* their acne — it’s helping them cope with it. Plus, many dermatologists agree that ordinary, non-stage makeup isn’t going to cause acne, anyway (just don’t sleep in it).

2. "But also, are you wearing ENOUGH makeup? Don't you know it can help protect your skin from pollution and free radicals?"

photo: Giphy

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

3. "It's your skin care!"

how to get rid of acne
photo: B Fowler / Revelist

It used to be that if you washed your face, moisturized, wore sunscreen, and didn’t sleep in your makeup, that was enough. Not anymore. If you have acne, people will practically force you to embrace a 14-product daily routine that takes three hours, all in the name of “balancing” and “healing” your skin.

And like, I love an extra skin care routine. Truly I do! But if you have hormonal acne (like I do), all the expensive lotions in the world aren't going to address the root of the problem — no matter how many beauty YouTubers tell you they will.

4. "It's everything BUT your skin care!"

skincare reaction
photo: B Fowler / Revelist

Oh cool, I can most definitely change *gestures broadly to all the things* so that my skin looks nice! Why didn’t you just say so?

5. "It's your lifestyle!"

photo: Giphy

"Lifestyle” is supposedly to blame for all sorts of skin problems. Wake up too late in the morning = pimples. Spend too much time on your phone = pimples. Work out too much = pimples. Don't work out enough = pimples. Medication = pimples. Working in an office = pimples.

Modern life will give you nothing but acne, apparently. Guess I’ll just go live in a cave in the woods and make friends out of pinecones — but hell, my skin will be PERFECT.

6. "It's your diet!"

Red wine causes pimples. No, it cures them. Dairy is bad for your skin. No, it’s good. Red meat gives you acne. No, it heals acne. Leafy vegetables like kale are all you should eat. No, don’t eat them too much — you'll break out.


7. "It's all the CHEMICALS you put on your FACE!"

photo: Giphy

I pretend this doesn’t drive me crazy, but it actually does — the entire idea that “natural” beauty is good, and “chemicals” are bad, and it's all the "chemicals" I choose to put on my face that's giving me acne.


Literally everything in the world is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Coconut oil is a chemical. Arsenic is natural. "Chemical" is not a catch-all term for something that will ugly up your face, so knock it off.

8. "It's STRESS."

Oh good, the electoral college caused my breakouts.

9. "It's because you're DIRTY."

oscar the grouch
photo: Sesame Street / HBO

There’s this bizarre perception that pimples are caused by BEING DIRTY, and that if you’d just stop being such a garbage monster, your skin would clear up. Because seriously, are you actually washing your face? I know you say you are, but ARE YOU REALLY? Pimples ONLY grow if you don’t wash your face, or you don’t wash your hair, and your filthy strands are all over your face. So, just how revolting ARE you?

Stop forever.

10. "Have you tried replacing everything in your life with coconut oil?"

photo: Giphy

I am so glad that so many people live and die by coconut oil for their skin and hair. Lemme get that out of the way so that the Coconut Oil Police does not come for me.

But coconut oil cannot cure acne. It can moisturize, and provide a hell of a protective layer to protect your skin from dryness, but it does not cure breakouts. In fact, coconut oil is considered very comedogenic (it generally rates a 4 on the scale), meaning that it can — and does — block pores. Which can lead to more breakouts. It's a decent tool, but not a miracle cure.

Let me just melt my coconut oil and drizzle it over my popcorn the way God intended, OK?

11. "Have you tried drinking water?"

No, but I love sipping tea.

12. "Have you tried washing your pillowcases?"

photo: CB2

I wash my pillowcases weekly. Am I supposed to be doing it more than that? Twice a week? Every day? Hourly? Should I just set my pillowcases on fire when I wake up in the morning? What is the protocol here?

13. "Have you tried these expensive, borderline-magical pillowcases?"

photo: Giphy

Look, guy. I can either afford to quit my job and spend every waking hour washing and re-washing my pillowcases so that any trace of my acne-grime is scoured from the face of the earth, OR I can buy $100 pillowcases that may or may not do anything at all to my skin.


14. "Stop touching your face."

Stop touching YOUR face!

15. "Do a cleanse."

goop detox
photo: GOOP / Instagram

I am on a permanent cleanse, it is called having kidneys. That's their job.

16. "Just meditate."

photo: Giphy

Why would I meditate if I can just buy $600 worth of pillowcases and achieve the same result?

17. "Just stop thinking about it. You're making it worse."

reaction face
photo: B Fowler / Revelist

Wow. The power of my thoughts can cause whiteheads and cystic zits. I had no idea my psychic superpowers would turn out to be so lame.

In case it wasn't already very clear: if you have acne, chances are that it's not because of anything you're doing to yourself.

Over the years, people have told me that ALL of these things were the reasons my skin was breaking out — that it was because of ME and the things I was doing (or not doing) that my skin would just. Not. Clear. Up.

And I believed it. It's easy to believe that stuff because if acne is caused by something I'm doing to myself without knowing it, it can be cured by doing something ELSE, right?


In the end, what cleared up my skin wasn't quitting makeup forever or living that $600 pillowcase life — it was seeing my dermatologist, who put me on a medication to control my hormones. Within weeks, my acne was gone.

And I didn't have to quit a single chemical.