The Acne Experiment

The Acne Experiment | Crappy Candle

Trying to cure acne is a lot like being a detective:

  1. Determine the Crime Being Committed = Find out what kind of acne you have.
    Do you have whiteheads, blackheads, under-grounders, a fine rash, or actually, no that's just an aggravated mole? Hey it might not be acne at all! Maybe it's rosacea. Perhaps it's dermatitis or a bug bite. You silly butt, you are actually having a serious allergic reaction. No more strawberries for you!
  2. Identify The Suspects = Find out what is causing your acne.
    Maybe you have hormonal acne. Maybe your foundation is clogging your pores or maybe your brand is fine, it's just old and loaded with bacteria. Maybe's it's your makeup brushes or your dirty fingers that are the problem. MAYBE ITS STRESS INDUCED! Maybe your night drools are giving you acne, or perhaps your 20+ years of excessive cheese consumption have finally caught up with you. Maybe it's genetic. (ugh genetics)
  3. Assign The Punishment* = Find out what cures your acne.
    You've got your topicals; Retin-A, Clindamycin, Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, A Clarisonic, Peels, Fire. Your pills: birth control, antibiotics, ACCUTANE, spironolactone. Your hippy dippys: clay masks, manuka honey, greek yogurt masks, tumeric scrubs, oils. And behaviorals: change pillowcases daily, stop using fabric softener, stop washing your hair, only eat spinach and flax seed, throw out your smartphone, break all your mirrors. 

Alas! You now have skin that is dried-out/flaking but somehow still oily, skin so thin and fragile that you bleed randomly then burn whenever you walk outside, skin covered in strange bumps and hyper-pigmentations from zits you had 3 months ago, and cabinets overflowing with mostly full products and miracle cures that haven't helped. Or maybe they helped a little? Oh, and what the hell, you're starting to get wrinkles because you have adult acne now and that's what adults have to deal with.

Enough. Enough I say.

I have been dealing with breakouts and hormonal acne for over a decade and perioral dermatitis (POD) for the past 2 years. I'm sick of trying to guess which products are causing me to break me out, which products are helping, and which products aren't doing anything. I'll be 31 in two weeks. I'm too old for this shit.

After complaining to my husband for the umpteenth time, he suggested I approach the situation scientifically. How can I know what is working if there are so many variables that I'm not controlling? This is my attempt to regain control. I'm hanging up my detective fedora and putting on a white lab coat.

I call it "The Acne Experiment."

I will not wash, wear makeup or use any kind of skincare product on my face for a month. 

I'm only allowing myself lip balm and oil absorbing sheets. Everything else is off limits including cleansers, acne medication, lotions, serums, and sunscreen.* I will only clean my face with warm water and a washcloth each evening. Each washcloth will only be used once and will be cleaned with dye/fragrance-free detergent, borax, and white vinegar.

I'm creating a baseline, a control group if you will. My hope is, by purging the skincare routine I've been "perfecting" since I was 13, I'll be able to to build a new one from the ground up. I'm hoping that I'll not only get to put together a routine that is simpler, but I'll be able to put together one that actually works.

Are you ready to look at my face? I'll offer it up, un-retouched, without comment. This is day one:

Day 1 | Crappy Candle
I uploaded it smallish because I'm not a sadist. Oops that was a comment. :(

I'll report back with my progress.

Oh hey there. I'm not done yet because I have a confession to make: I am actually 2 weeks into my experiment at the time of posting. I decided to write this, then hold off on publishing it until I was sure this experiment wouldn't result in my face turning into one giant throbbing zit. Because then I would have written a poem about my giant zit.

Oh hai again. I've done a ton of product trials since writing this:

The Acne Experiment FAQs + Posts are listed at The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB


*Detectives don't assign punishment, so perhaps finding a cure for acne is more of a Judge Dredd-ism. I am the law. At least he got to wear a mask, lucky bastard.

**I have olive toned skin that is pretty hearty, I hardly ever leave the house, and I actually hate being in the sun. I don't recommend "no SPF" for everyone, but I don't anticipate burning to be a problem for myself. Also, HATS.

The Acne Experiment | Crappy Candle

All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment



  1. I don't think you're too old for this shit...I'm 59 and still going through it. I'm really sorry if that's discouraging. I hope not. I had acne diagnosed in my 20s. Then it was diagnosed as rosacea in my 40s. Redness, wrinkles, zits, flaking, burning , itching and now...hairs growing in weird places (on my face) have me convinced that there is no answer. I am interested in your experiment and am waiting with bated breath to see your results. If you find a solution, I will worship at your feet and tell all generations of your wisdom. Seriously...good luck! I can't wait to hear what you discover! :)

    1. I hope we both come out of this thing with buttery, flawless skin and, somehow, drastically reduced facial hair (I'm half Persian, so I feel you on that one).

  2. I am 33 and have suffered through just about every type of acne there is since 14, so it's been a semi-life long trial and error for me as well. Adolescent acne, then adult acne, then on to discover I had dairy allergy-related acne, then developed pregnancy acne. I'm already anticipating menopause acne later down the road because...well my hormones have proven themselves forever inefficient lol. And having to change up my skincare regime each time to suit the different types. Now I'm into the "hippy dippy" treatments, using oils and honey. Love these updates, just recently found you and will be keeping up with your acne experiment. Hoping you find your holy grail! I'm there with ya.

  3. Besides, the item does not work for all skin composes,accutane alternative and the lotion isn't sufficient to help mitigate the harshness and torment.

  4. The cucumber has cooling and relieving impacts which furnish the skin with solid hydration. It additionally contains nutrient C which is utilized to stout the skin and give it delectable, more brilliant and even coloring. drinkable skincare


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