Removing Acne through Microbiome Hacking and Self-Experimentation

This is a guest post from Ben Bazor. Thanks Ben!

Why You Should Care

Acne sucks. Everyone who has it wants to be rid of it. Of the countless strategies to remove acne, here’s the one that worked for me. I developed it because I wanted something scientific, adaptable, and sensible.

It all started when I came across a gem, a research paper called Acne Vulgaris a Disease of Western Civilization. In which, the authors observed no acne in two non-Westernized populations (1,300+ people in total, 300+ adolescents). This is radically different than the prolific 89% rate of acne in teens of developed countries. Furthermore, the Inuit (Eskimos) are free from acne as long as they avoid a Western Diet, suggesting environmental causes rather than genetic ones.

I decided to do an experiment to answer this question: is it possible to recreate their success (i.e. remove acne) with dietary and lifestyle changes? For me at least, the answer was yes. I was able to remove 90% of my acne in 45 days (even with mistakes and missteps along the way).

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I also noticed strange changes too (TMI warning). My poop consistency changed, my frequent bloating went away, my body odor dramatically reduced, and my sinuses stopped being constantly clogged. All of these are clear signs that the microbiome of my skin and gut changed for the better. I’m still kicking myself for not testing my microbiome before starting my experiments.

How to Do It

The basic technique is simple.

  1. Decide what dietary/lifestyle change to make (making choices that bring you closer to the acne-free populations are likely going to be more successful).
  2. Take before pictures of problem areas and/or test your skin/gut microbiome.
  3. Follow through with the dietary/lifestyle change for 2-4 weeks.
  4. Take after pictures / retest your microbiome.
  5. Maintain changes that caused your skin to clear. Avoid things that cause breakouts. Repeat.

It is really that straight-forward. My original experimentation was far more convoluted than it needed to be. I took 6-10 pictures daily and have journals filled with food logs. But all that isn’t necessary.

For anyone that wants to hack their skin microbiome and remove their acne, I want to make it easy to use the techniques that worked for me. First, I wrote a short free ebook called, “The Acne Revolution Quick Start Guide” with all the background, techniques, and the dietary changes that are likely to lead to the best results. Second, I worked with a developer to create a free Android app to assist in the acne self-experimentation process.

The Bigger Picture

If it is true that acne is a disease of Western Civilization—caused by diet and lifestyle—then it means we can stop it. There are many questions that remain. What foods cause or prevent acne? Do they work for everyone? How do hygiene products affect the microbiome? For the first time ever, we are in a position to discover the answers. As we learn more, we will be closer to stopping acne.

Through my app and website (, I am compiling results from people using self-experimentation to remove their acne. As I get more data, I can share new findings and strategies for getting clear skin. If you have acne and want to remove it, you can countless others like you by documenting your journey and sharing it.