My Battle With Acne

My skin has never looked clearer.

Not even kidding. I’ve never seen my face look this healthy since I was a child. Anyone want to know what I’m doing?  Well, wait, first… let me give you some back story.

When I was in middle school, I got acne. It wasn’t so bad I was embarrassed all the time, but I always had many pimples on my face. And some of them, though you couldn’t really see them, were cysts, beneath my skin. The dermatologist suggested accutane, but I declined because of the toxicity of the medicine and my mother supported me.  Their second runner up medicine was tetracycline. So I took it.

An UN-Natural Remedy for Acne:

Tetracycline is an antibiotic. I really didn’t think anything of it. When I was in middle school, we were at the peak of the whole “antibiotics are the greatest thing ever” mindset. There weren’t all of the antibiotic resistance issues.  Nobody told me about candida and how antibiotics tied in with that, but in retrospect, some of my sugar craving issues and bloating issues make a lot more sense.  Tetracycline seemed perfectly safe. So, I was given a low dose of antibiotics and was on it every day for a couple of years. I was warned about not going out in the sun with them, and I did suffer one horrible sunburn, where my face became a giant blister and then turned hard, like plastic. It peeled several days later. In the meantime, we were concerned that it may have been a bad enough sunburn to actually cause scarring.  All in all though, from my perspective, it worked. I got a couple of good years out of it. But then, it stopped working. Which, I now understand happened because the bacteria causing my acne became resistant to tetracycline.  When it stopped working, I stopped taking them.

My Initial Natural Remedy for Acne:

After that, I became a guinea pig for nearly every acne system I could find. Nothing really worked at all until I found tea tree oil. That worked awesome. (Though it’s awesomeness has not been evaluated by the FDA. Tea Tree Oil is absolutely not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition, because only drugs can do that.) Except that, using tea tree oil for acne got expensive. See, I knew you couldn’t over dilute tea tree oil because if you do, similarly to tetracycline, bacteria becomes resistant to tea tree oil if you dilute tea tree oil more than 4%. I explain all of that in a previous blog. Even though it was costly, it worked awesome, so I kept using it until money got tight.

My next idea: Clove Oil!

My New Favorite Natural Remedy for Acne:

You barely need any clove oil to be enough for an entire face. Clove oil is so strong! One drop in a carrier oil would be enough for an entire face, I thought.  First I tried clove oil mixed with virgin coconut oil and that worked awesome on my complexion. However, now it’s summer, and having virgin coconut on your face gets kind of slimy. So I kind of gave up on it for awhile. Meanwhile, my complexion paid the price.

One day, while putting makeup on, I saw my liquid foundation sitting right beside the clove oil on a shelf. (I imagine this is probably how the first peanut butter and jelly sandwich happened.)

Freakishly excited about my new invention, I dropped 15 drops of clove oil into the bottle of foundation and mixed it vigorously by shaking. I then, put my foundation on my face like normal and started my When I washed my face that night, my acne was far better than it was when I started my day.

I’ve been at this for some time now, and one thing that the tea tree never did manage to fix all the way that the clove oil does is the deep down cysts. Which, is not really of much concern for my vanity because you can’t really see them much, but those are the ones that hurt the most.

Almost twenty years into this battle with acne, that I assumed I would grow out of, I finally can say I have clear skin. The other day a complete stranger told me I had beautiful skin. When I was a very, very young girl, I was told that often. Then, the acne came. I don’t believe I’ve been told that I have beautiful skin in nearly twenty years.


It’s important to note that clove oil is so strong, it has to be put in a carrier. That is straight from me and very true. You won’t explode or anything, I have done it myself, but it burns like you would not believe if you put it right on yourself.  (It’s also what makes it my cheap natural remedy for acne, because I hardly use any at all.)

The FDA would have my hide if I didn’t tell you that clove oil is not an FDA approved medicine and that I am not a doctor. Clove oil, cannot be regulated as a drug and is, of course, not a drug. They want me to tell you that it’s not a medicine at all. So, apparently, it’s not a medicine at all. It can not, of course be used to treat or cure any actual medical condition, because only drugs can treat and cure medical conditions. They also need me to make sure you know that clove oil is not FDA approved to treat acne. They pretty much want me to tell you not to even bother trying it. So, don’t even bother trying it. I of course didn’t write this so that you would try it, I just enjoy writing about my repulsive personal challenges and exercising my freedom of speech within the guidelines of the law.



  1. Oh my god! I am SOOO struggling with my acne right now. Especially after going off of birth control. I use salicylic acid peels and differin… hoping it’ll help. I’ve been on accutane twice but am still cursed. I will DEFINITELY try clove oil. Thank you!!!!!

  2. Heather P

    Funny you write this, as you know I recently came to understand how great clove oil is because of you and I was wondering if it would help with acne!!!! If you don’t use foundation what might be another good carrier since I don’t use liquid foundation?

  3. I am SO trying this! At 32, I still suffer from acne – and not just on my face, but on my back and chest as well. I’m wondering if a few drops in a liquid bath soap might help? I’m going to experiment with this. Thanks for the tip!
    And Heather P – perhaps an oil-free facial lotion might do the trick for a carrier? Or a facial sunscreen (spf is always a good idea!).

  4. I no joke was discussing the acne issue earlier today. I had ‘perfect’ skin all throughout my teenage years. Not once did I wake up in the morning to find a ‘third eye’ or ‘second chin,’ as I now call them. Years and two children later…not so much. I really do not understand it. I am more self conscious of my complexion now that I am in my 20’s than I ever was as a teen. I can not believe the battle I am having with my skin. I am sure stress has a lot to do with it, but still…Does it ever stop?! Where exactly does one find coconut oil if one were trying to avoid it, since we aren’t supposed to be using it or anything…I mean, I must know where it is in order to avoid it right? And would it be okay to add this to a facial cleanser? Not that I am going to try it, but just in case someone were to ask me this some day, I feel that I should know this fact…sort of one of those useless facts that linger up in your head…you never really need to know it, but its fun to have around. 🙂

  5. CLEAR Forum

    Hi Dawn!
    We like your post on acne and we are interested in learning more from you. We are organizing an event for acne and skincare bloggers in Chicago on 9/17 and would like to invite you. All travel expenses would be covered and you would receive a honorarium. We would love to send you more information. Is there an email address that we can send this to?
    Let us know what is the best way to reach you.

    We hope you will be interested and will join us!
    The CLEAR Forum team

  6. dishship

    I just started using clove oil in my moisturizer. I’ve suffered with cystic acne for a while now, and this actually helps!! HOWEVER, my face is breaking out with cystic acne EVERYWHERE! It used to just be a few here and there, and now I’m getting clusters! I’ve read before that when oil cleansing, your complexion will get worse before it gets better because you have to essentially flush out the toxins in your skin. Do you think that’s what’s happening?

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