9 Reasons I Used To Have Acne

Don’t make these acne mistakes.

I used to have acne.

Now, I don’t.

This post is my Sherlockian attempt to figure out why I used to have acne.

They say hindsight is 20/20, right?

Well, g’darn but I SO wish I had known all this when I was suffering from daily breakouts back in high school that were crushing my self-esteem.

Here we go:

1. I drank Seattle tap water.

When I was a kid, I remember people saying, “We’re so lucky in Seattle to have such amazing tap water!”

Now, I’m thinking, that’s such BS!

Yes, it’s nice to not get food poisoning from drinking the tap water, so I guess there’s that.

But fluoride and chlorine? Chlorine by-products? Nitrosamines? PCBs? Birth control pill residues? (Yep.)

These can all be major acne triggers, I believe.

As humans, I think we have a fundamental right to drink non-toxic water. Residents of Seattle (and lots of the developed world, really) are NOT given this right.

Mandatory water fluoridation is a crime against humanity.

It is a racket designed to turn a waste product (smokestack residue from aluminum and fertilizer factories) into $$profit$$. You, in turn, get acne and very slow heavy metal poisoning, so slow it looks like nothing is happening, and nobody can point the finger at the toxic drinking water.

And fluoride is a huge acne trigger…

Fluoride triggers acne by nuking vitamin A in the skin, corroding polyunsaturated fats into toxic lipid peroxides, destroying thyroid function, calcifying your pineal gland and making you melatonin deficient and spiritually less tuned in, using up your badly-needed antioxidants, and generally laying waste to your body because it is so toxic.

2. I took fluoride gel treatments at the dentist.

It’s good for your teeth, right?

Wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong.

Fluoride creates a hard, thin, brittle covering over your normal tooth enamel, which prevents your teeth from remineralizing properly (which is how they keep themselves healthy).

If you look at the “scientific studies” on fluoride, it sure looks like kids get fewer cavities from fluoride treatments, if you’re not careful.

But really, the fluoride just makes kids hit puberty sooner – because it screws up melatonin levels by calcifying their pineal glands – so it throws off the age statistics in the carefully manicured (read: fake) studies designed to make you think that fluoride is good for you, and not extremely toxic, which it is.

Kids that get fluoride reach puberty sooner, so they start losing their baby teeth sooner, and it looks like they don’t have as many cavities.

Kids that don’t get fluoride reach puberty later, so it looks like they have more cavities, because they still have all those baby teeth for longer.

All this horribly amoral distortial of science means mega profits for aluminum and fertilizer companies, and dentists.

And acne for you.

(And for me, before I knew better than to avoid fluoride like the plague.)

3. I ate Sunmaid raisin boxes.

Well, I ate the raisins, not the boxes, but still.

Sunmaid raisins (and non-organic raisins, in general) can have EXTREMELY high levels of fluoride, due to the pesticides (e.g. cryolite, or hexa-fluoro-aluminate) and fumigants (sulfuryl fluoride) sprayed on non-organically-grown raisin grapes.

I have Melissa Gallico to thank for turning me onto this problem, and fluoride and acne in general – you go girl!

These raisins are one the other reason I used to get migraines that would make me throw up (and then get breakouts the next day).

4. I ate Cup Noodles for school lunch, without my parents knowing.

Yes, of course I still packed a lunch (didn’t want to tip off my parents!), but I regularly bought a Cup Noodles as a major supplement to my ham-and-mayo sandwich on Oroweat bread.

Do you have any idea what’s in this stuff?

Enriched wheat flour (with added iron!), vegetable oil (acne bomb), MSG, disodium guanylate, artifical flavorings, hydrolyzed soy protein (acne trigger), and bizarre powdered food products up the wazoo.

No surprise that this added to my breakouts as a teenager. NEXT!

5. I didn’t sleep enough.

I slept maybe 7-8 hours a night. Seem good? It’s not.

If you don’t sleep enough, your body can’t produce enough melatonin to clear up your acne. (You only produce melatonin when it’s dark.)

Melatonin clears up acne because it’s one of the most powerful antioxidants your body has (right up there with thyroid hormone and glutathione).

Melatonin helps prevent the PUFA Zombie Apocalypse, by preventing the lipid peroxidation chain reaction of PUFA that leads to inflamed acne.

If you don’t have enough melatonin, because you don’t sleep enough (like me in high school), you get more acne, because your body can’t deal with the toxic assault of the modern world.

Also, like I said earlier, fluoride calcifies your pineal gland, which is bad because your pineal gland is the only thing in your body that can make melatonin. And calcified pineal glands don’t make melatonin very well.

Now, I avoid fluoride like the plague, and I get 9+ hours of sleep regularly, because I know that’s what human bodies need to be healthy and acne-free.

Yes, it’s a crime for teenagers to have to get up at 6am to avoid detention. It’s likely that teenagers are biologically wired to be night owls.

That said, I could have turned off the dang lights and computer, and gotten my ass to bed earlier.

I literally did it ONE TIME, my whole high school career. I went to bed at 8:30pm, and actually woke up without my alarm the next morning. That morning was the only school morning I EVER felt well-rested in those four years.

I bet my acne was better, too, from all that melatonin production!

6. I played sh**tons of video games.

Video games are not inherently acne-causing, but there is a good reason for the stereotype that gamers tend to have acne.

Several reasons, actually.

These come to mind:

  • When you play video games, it’s so freaking exciting that you can’t be bothered to take a break to cook and eat real food. So, if you’re like me, while the next map is loading, you race downstairs to grab a box of Cheerios, get back to the computer just in time, then eat the whole box over the next 30 minutes of gaming, without even realizing it. (More on why Cheerios cause acne in a minute.)

  • Modern action/shooter video games are so stressful that they put you in a state of chronically high cortisol. That means your immune system can’t function well, and your body can’t repair itself well. That means more acne.

  • Video games are so addictive, especially compared to the dull reality of school, and after that, soulless cube-farm city life, that you just want to keep escaping back into the game. Voluntary insertion into the Matrix? Bring it on! You mean I can forget about my acne and groom my own residual self-image to clear-skin perfection in the digital world? HECK YES!

  • Video game screens throw off lots of blue light, which makes it hard to get to sleep afterward. I often stayed up late playing World of Warcraft or Battlefield 2 (I’m showing my age here), then tried to go to bed right afterward, which is impossible because I was so jacked up on blue light that I hadn’t started pumping out any melatonin yet. And melatonin is what makes you go to sleep! So I had to burn 45 minutes just laying in bed before I could actually sleep. (This is why I now ALWAYS wear blue-blocking glasses for 1-2 hours before bed every night.)

  • Computers and devices throw out loads of EMFs. Those EMFs make it hard for your body to detoxify itself properly. Your lymph gets sticky and doesn’t flow as well, which is bad for acne, because sticky lymph means toxins get stuck in your skin, causing acne, rather than moving out of your body quickly.

  • Any others? Probably. Video games are not a good lifestyle choice for me. I can’t say the same for you – maybe you can get around all these problems and have a healthy relationship with games, unlike me! Personally, I have to avoid them altogether, or I feel like my soul is being Dementored into the computer, and the real world has no joy in it because it does not move fast enough and does not give me enough dopamine to feel good. ACK. (This is why I want to move to living 100% electricity-free, eventually. Enjoy this website and my book while you still can!!)

7. I ate Cheerios and Oat Squares with 2% milk for breakfast.


You know, I thought I was doing good with these cereal choices. I really did.

My mom even made me look for cereal that had less than 12 grams of sugar per serving, and didn’t have any hydrogenated fat in it.

That’s a start, but dang. You know what these cereals actually have in them?

Cheerios, to start, are fortified with iron shavings. In fact, one serving has literally 45% of your daily iron! I usually ate 3-4 servings for breakfast daily. That’s so much iron that I should have been like Iron Man, but in reality I was just Acne Boy.

(If you didn’t know yet, excess iron can cause acne in several ways – read my post here.)

And Oat Squares?

Holy crap, I could not believe this when I looked up the ingredients recently. 90% iron per serving!!! OMG! I also took chewable vitamin C every morning, which made me absorb even more of that iron.

And Oat Squares also have yellow 5 and yellow 6, which are made from crude oil. WTF? Did Quaker Co.’s Department of Consumer Psychology team up with the Department of Food Engineering to decide that fakey yellow-brown oat squares looked more appetizing than just plain brown ones?!


After all this, it almost seems like the feedlot 2% milk I had on my cereal was the BEST part of my breakfast. The calcium in it probably blocked some of the iron. The estrogen and antibiotics and BCM-7 in it… well, no, those actually probably made my acne worse. Silver lining fail!

Hear ye, hear ye. There is a way to eat breakfast without getting acne, but Cheerios, Oat Squares, and feedlot 2% milk are not it. (Mom, if you’re reading this, I love you and forgive you!!)

8. I could not sh** worth a dang, and was chronically constipated.

Yes, I was anal-retentive at that age, so that’s part of it.

And yes, I played so many video games that I couldn’t be bothered to take a break to defacate, which worsened my tendency toward anal-retentiveness.

When you don’t poop good, your body builds up too much LPS (lipopolysaccharide), which is an inflammatory endotoxin made by your gut bacteria.

That means more inflamed acne!

If you poop more gooder, on the other hand, that means better detoxing, and less toxin buildup in your body, and less acne.

I used to take psyllium husk powder to try to help me poop better. That probably blocked some of the iron from the cereal, actually! Silver lining win.

9. I took fish oil (not refrigerated even!).

Fish oil is basically pure PUFA, and that means LOTS of fuel for the fires of lipid peroxidation.

Theoretically, very fresh fish oil – like, from eating raw fish – would give you stable, un-peroxidized, still-healthy omega-3s, which is a good thing in small amounts.

That said, fish oil that’s been extracted in a factory (oxidation), stored at room temperature (oxidation), stored in a bottle that constantly gets a refreshed oxygen supply every time you open it (oxidation), is going to be a cocktail of lipid peroxides.

That’s practically a recipe for acne!

If those oxidized PUFAs didn’t give me acne immediately, they probably stored up in my body, and then got dumped out whenever I got stressed out or angry (which was VERY OFTEN when I was a teenager in the tyranny of public school). That’s because cortisol causes your body to dump fatty acids to burn for energy. Not good if you’ve got a big reserve of PUFA stored up in your body (which is why you can get waves of detox breakouts for a long time after you start fixing your diet and lifestyle).

Fixing these 9 things didn’t clear up my acne.

It did help a ton, but I had to do a lot more things to eventually get totally clear. I really had to completely redesign my diet and lifestyle.

This is NOT EASY! Especially if you’re like me, and you have 20 years of toxic history. I didn’t even mention vaccines and antibiotics in this list… yikes. I got loads of ’em when I went to Africa as a senior in high school.

These toxins store deep, deep, deep in your body – in your bones, your brain, your pineal gland, your joints, your soft tissues, your eyes – I even detox iron through my earwax (it comes out in shades of yellow/orange/brown, a.k.a. rust! and sometimes green, from copper detox probably).

It took me 2+ years of doing iodine loading before I stopped getting fluoride headaches and transient breakouts.

I suffered through years of chronic fatigue and anxiety from iron overload and mineral imbalances, from raw veganism and long-time paleo.

I want to help you through this difficult process, and make it as low-stress and simple as possible for you.

My best approach to getting clear skin with smart diet and lifestyle changes is summed up in the Clear Skin Forever Master Guide. (You also get free lifetime access to our member forum with 3,000+ members, where you can et 1-on-1 support from me!)

How about you? Do you resonate with my story at all? Have you started thinking about your history of toxin exposure that might be the root cause of your acne?

Share in the comments below!

Hope you’re well,

– Devin

About Devin Mooers

Devin MooersHey! Over the past 10 years, I've developed a powerful system for clearing acne with a little-known diet- and lifestyle-based method, and I want to spread the love. That's why I started Clear Skin Forever back in 2011. I studied engineering and product design at Stanford University, and graduated in the top 5% of my class, but afterward, I decided to focus on writing about health, since I found it so fulfilling to help people clear their acne for good. Thanks for reading, and sign up for email updates to stay in the loop with clear skin tips! Also, be sure to check out our book if you haven't yet, all about how to fix acne permanently with diet and lifestyle changes. We've helped thousands of people get clear skin this way!

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  1. Sam says

    Hi Devin,

    How low PUFA diets do you recommend? Do you think you can get all the PUFAs you need from eating beans, whole grains and whole milk? I have always felt terrible every time I have eaten seeds, fish oil and other EFA supplements.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Sam! Yeah, definitely. Very low PUFA is good. It’s all about quality and freshness with PUFA – most fish oils, seeds, supplements, etc. are totally rancid by the time you ingest them. Yes, the Inuit traditionally eat tons of seal blubber (high in PUFA), but it’s extremely fresh and non-oxidized when ingested, and they also eat thyroid glands of seals, which provides loads of iodine and thyroid hormone to block lipid peroxidation of that PUFA.

      How do you feel with raw oysters, have you tried that? They’re a prime acne-busting food, with lots of zinc and also super-fresh DHA.

  2. Brooke Turley says

    Ok, you’re officially talking crappy science, in light of this article about marigolds and chickens. Apparently it very much does indeed improve eggs to have marigolds in the chickens’ diets.


    I certainly hope that no one has gone and altered either their own diet or that of their poultry, just because of your half-baked scare tactics. Good grief. “ Fake orange” in nature, indeed.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Brooke! Wow, color me (majorly) wrong. Thanks for pointing this out! That was really sloppy – I don’t know what I thought that marigold color would not be related to an antioxidant carotene. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. I’m sorry about this carelessness – I have removed this from the post after following up on the articles you linked! I will try to be more careful next time.

  3. Brooke Turley says

    Hi, I hate to burst your anti-marigold bubble, but the thing is, marigolds are orange themselves due to caratenoids! They’re full of nutrients, actually, and there’s no such thing as “fake orange” in nature.

    (Unless I count the time that my dad consumed massive quantities of beta-carotene in his heroic search for a natural “fake tan”. That time, “fake orange” definitely fit the bill.)

    Here’s an article that details the nutritional profile of marigolds:


    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Brooke! (Just duplicating the response here to your other comment) Wow, color me (majorly) wrong. Thanks for pointing this out! That was really sloppy – I don’t know what I thought that marigold color would not be related to an antioxidant carotene. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. I’m sorry about this carelessness – I have removed this from the post after following up on the articles you linked! I will try to be more careful next time.

  4. tom hennessy says

    Researchers in a recent study took 60 women with hyperandrogenemia which has cystic acne as a major symptom, and reduced the iron in 30 by phlebotomy, and gave the ‘standard of care’ to the other 30, found, phlebotomy to reduce iron levels was as effective as the drugs used in the ‘standard of care’.

    Effect of phlebotomy versus oral contraceptives containing cyproterone acetate on the clinical and biochemical parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. J Ovarian Res 12, 78 (2019).


    There seems to be more to the iron than we fully realize ..

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Tom – whoa, that’s fascinating! Great find! Amazing that phlebotomy brought on normal menstruation in 44% of subjects – I bet if they also added 3,000 IU of retinol, it would have improved results even more (vit. A boosts ceruloplasmin production to bind excess free iron).

  5. Luo says

    Stress can induce a series of negative effects on the human body. Many people are easily depressed under pressure, which has a bad influence on the treatment of acne.
    Some people overeating under pressure, too much sugar can easily induce acne.
    And stress can make people unable to sleep, and lack of sleep has too much effect on the skin.

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Master your acne in 4 weeks or less
  • Fix the root causes of your acne: fluoride, diet, sleep, stress & more
  • Exclusive forum access with 4,000+ members
  • Food Explorer App with skin safety ratings of 450+ foods
  • 96% of customers satisfied