I get this first hand. How heart-wrenching it feels when acne won't go away. These are the 5 most common and science supported reasons why.

Acne Won’t Go Away (help!) These Are The 5 Hidden Reasons Why

In Acne by Cheryl Woodman MChemLeave a Comment

Omgosh I’m so happy you’re here with me reading this now. Because I get this first hand. How heart-wrenching it feels when acne won’t go away.

Help, help, my acne won’t go away. 

It’s on repeat in your head.

You feel silly for caring so much about your skin but you also can’t stop how you feel.

It’s easy for someone with clear skin to say – it doesn’t even look that bad or it’s only pimples or just stop picking at your spots and it will be fine.

They mean well and they’re probably giving you advice because they love you and want to make things better… but they also don’t know.

They don’t know what it’s like to live with acne and they also aren’t an acne expert.

So give them a hug, tell them you love them for caring and then get started on correcting these real, 5 reasons why your acne won’t go away.

Not only have I experienced so many of these first hand, I’ve also seen them turn the skin of so many of my SkinCoachees from ‘help my acne won’t go away’ to ‘I can’t believe this is my skin right now, I feel so confident’. I want this for you too so let’s get going shall we?

I get this first hand. How heart-wrenching it feels when acne won't go away. These are the 5 most common and science-supported reasons why.

1. You Have Bacteria Biofilms Living On Your Skin

Don’t worry if this sounds crazy sciencey. You’ve now got me as your friendly next-door skincare scientist and I’m about to break this down for you.

If your acne won’t go away and you’ve tried everything it’s extremely likely you have bacteria biofilms living on your skin.

Right now your skin is a bacteria planet.

And it needs to be this way. Bacteria help keep your skin healthy, just like they do for your gut.

As your skin is breakout-prone (at the moment) we know your skin’s bacteria balance is upset.

And certain kinds of bacteria are linked with breakouts. These are overtaking your skin’s bacteria planet. It’s war.

In this fight-off, acne bacteria have a super tactic up their sleeves. 

See, your spot-causing bacteria know together they are stronger.

As an individual acne bacteria they can’t do much. Think of them as a solo protester. They’re passionate but it’s super hard to change things on their own.

And so they get smart. And that solo acne bacteria’s passion rubs off on a next-door neighbour, then a friend, then complete strangers. Suddenly your solo bacteria is now a team of breakout causing bacteria.

And this team are connected. They know to be strong they must stand together. And so they stage a sit-in. They lay down on your skin and hold hands.

This is a bacteria biofilm.

A layer of connected bacteria. And they’re super strong. Many anti-acne skincare actives work to kill off individual acne bacteria but don’t touch acne bacteria biofilms. Yikes right.


Don’t worry my friend, there are some actives which are proven disruptive to bacteria biofilms. Which one’s best for you depends on your skin type and skin history. This is generally the first stage of us working together in the Acne Clinic.

2. You’re Not Supporting Your Skin’s ‘Cupcake’ Factors

You said what? Cupcakes!? Where are they! 😉

I have to say this is probably a #1 cause of why acne won’t go away.

This is my favourite analogy to explain.

Do you know what I mean when I say fancy cupcake? The ones which look too good to eat?

They have a cakey layer a super thick frosting layer and then are bedazzled with gems and sprinkles and silver balls and hundreds and thousands. Heck, I’ve even seen some with fruit pieces on top.

Now there’s a confused cupcake 😉

This cupcake is likely how we will help heal your skin and get rid of acne.

Not by eating it but by using it to identify your breakout triggers.

Because for most acne warriors, skincare can’t do it all.

In fact, the biggest factor in healing your skin from breakouts, pimples and spots is super likely to be diet based.

Psst – grab a copy of my free 1-page acne diet cheatsheet here, it’s a fab place to get started.

An effective acne diet is a primary inside-out factor. And for most clear skin warriors it’s like the big cakey bit of a cupcake.

Next is skincare and that’s like the crazy thick frosting on top.

Finally, there are lifestyle factors which are like the gems on top.

Acne won’t go away without investigating all of these 3 cupcake factors together.

You can’t make a cupcake without all 3. And you aren’t going to be healing your breakouts long term without all 3 either.

So get a head start with my free 1-page acne diet cheatsheet here. I’ve got you my friend 🙂

3. You’re Actively Using Skincare Which Worsens Acne

Ever felt like you’ve finally found skincare which works. You’ve gone from help my acne won’t go away to wowser, this is holy grail, I can’t believe I’ve finally found what works for me. Wahoo.

And then out of nowhere, your solution, the one you committed to, the one you love – stops dead. It’s no longer working for you and it’s as if now it might actually be making your skin health worse.

Help, help, help.

My acne went away (a bit) and now it won’t go away again. 

You’re not alone here my friend. This is a super common reason why acne won’t go away.

Using aggressive blemish busting skincare which works against your skin’s natural biology.

It works at first and then it changes everything about your skin’s natural biology.

Some of the ways aggressive blemish busting skincare is doing this, is actually making your skin a comfier, cosier place for acne bacteria long term.

For example, it can really mess up your skin pH. Your skin is naturally slightly acidic and that’s super healthy. In fact, it helps stop acne bacteria from winning your skin war. When you use aggressive skincare it’s highly likely making your skin pH more alkaline. And guess what? Acne bacteria love this. Boom, they explode on your skin.

This one’s a fairly easy fix once you know which skincare can not only help heal acne but can also help support your skin’s natural biology. Then you’re winning. This is what we do in the first month of getting you set up in the Acne Clinic. 

4. You’re Trying Every Acne Solution – all the things

I see this so, so often. In fact, it’s so, so natural. You’re hating on your skin because your acne won’t go away so you’re desperately seeking out what can work.

Now I love me a good Google. It’s likely how we met eh 😉 Thank you Google.

But you do need a Google filter.

Because trying every spot solution blindly can actually make your acne worse. Especially if you don’t know what’s causing your acne. 

Imagine trying to whack a piñata blindfolded.

This is like that.

But instead of someone guiding you to within a meter of the unicorn piñata you’re in the next room or down the street, heck maybe even not in the same neighbourhood.

And some blemish solutions will work against each other because acne can be caused for completely opposite factors.

For example, some women get acne when their skin is oily and others get acne when their skin is dry. There are different causes at play here. Your war plan needs to be different too 🙂

Trying ‘all the things’ at once not only makes it incredibly hard to identify the causes of your acne, it also can be a solo reason for acne flares.

Bottom line; keeping things simple is most effective.

5. You’ve Not Identified The Root Cause of Your Acne

Imagine your spots, pimples and blemishes like weeds.

Weeds with super-strong roots. Maybe a dandelion? Or a dock weed. Or a stinging nettle.

Now I’m no gardener 🙂 but there’s one green-fingered lesson ingrained in me.

Take weeds out by their roots.

Don’t and they’re going to grow back stronger than before.

This is another super common and hidden reason why acne won’t go away.

You’re only working on the surface of what’s causing your breakouts.

You’re preening off the weed leaves.

And they keep growing back.

As we come to identify the trigger causes of your acne we need to get deep.

Because yes most acne is hormone triggered. And hormones are a huge swimming pool of ingredients.


You have the obvious skinny dippers like;

  • Testosterone
  • Estrogen

And you have less obvious, will only wear a tankini;

  • Progesterone
  • SHBG
  • Insulin
  • Prolactin
  • Growth factors
  • Cortisol
  • and so, so much more

Because you’re feeling like your acne won’t go away, it’s super likely you haven’t hit on your unique and individual trigger causes.

And psst – these might not be as simple as just avoiding a trigger. These may be more complex, like for example supporting your body in making a specific hormone you’re likely unbalanced in.


Do any of these 5 reasons why acne won’t go away ring alarm bells for you? Come tell me in the comments below.

And please, please, if you know a friend struggling with their skin health right now, will you use that big green sharing button below to forward this help blog to them? You are a gem 🙂