Hackernoon logoThe Quick Guide To Thinking Scientifically About Your Acne by@clambosambo

The Quick Guide To Thinking Scientifically About Your Acne

Conor Lamb Hacker Noon profile picture

@clambosamboConor Lamb

SkinTheory Founder. Ok guy, for sure.

"For every complex problem, there's a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." - H.L. Mencken

Hello Gang, Acne is a bitch.

Here’s a little guide for how to get rid of your acne by thinking scientifically and my (☣️ FULL DISCLOSURE ☣️) contribution as a developer.

Hi, I'm Conor, a software engineer and acne suffering alumni.

I had horribly recurrent facial, back, and chest acne from around ages 18-22 y/o. The best thing about being in college with acne, was that university equipped me with so much maturity, self confidence, and wisdom that I didn’t even notice I had acne and stopped caring completely about my appearance.

This is a disgusting lie of course. Not only did I go to class knowing everyone could see my acne, I could PHYSICALLY FEEL the deep pustules throbbing and creating more zits.

’Twas a grand time as they used to say.

So why’ve I brought you here today? Well, I beat my acne. And all it took was some scientific thinking and a piece of my soul.

Conor’s Acne Clearing “Scientific” Method


Most people don’t think scientifically to solve their acne.

They blindly take medicines that Katy Perry prescribed on TV or what they saw in the CVS. This may work for some lucky folks, but not me, and if you’re reading this, maybe not you!

To come up with a solution for any complex problem, you need to fundamentally understand all of its moving parts. Your skin is no different. For your skin, need to understand:

  • what your skin likes/dislikes
  • how you (and nature) impact your skin on a daily basis, Do you sleep on one side of the pillow all the time?
  • if your skincare regimens are progressive towards clearing skin

So how did I understand my skin? I came up with my own version of the Scientific Method.

1. Create a Hypothesis: I would choose a regimen to follow for some amount of time. Maybe I’d try a regimen I’d found on acne.org. e.g “Benzoyl Peroxide on left side of face, 1x a day; Moisturize 1x a day for 2 weeks.”

2. Run the Experiment: Every day or two I would:

  • a. Take pictures of the affected areas with my new regimen.
  • b. Write a log in a private Google Doc the status of my skin and how the experiment was going. This log includes how my skin looks and feels, and any externalities that could affect the experiment. These logs would allow me to pinpoint how I felt about my skin over time. e.g “I have 10 pimples today and a good bit of redness. Mostly on the right side of my face. They do feel a bit less inflamed today. I also forgot to shower after working out yesterday, and woke up feeling sweaty. OOF 

3. Analyze the Results: After a solid time period (and 2 weeks may not always be enough!), I would compare my photos and logs from today to before I began this regimen’s experiment. If I showed some improvement, I would keep up the regimen. If I was getting worse, I would tweak the regimen or completely change to a new one with a day or 2 of buffer in between

I began to take a secret joy in doing this method. Firstly, I felt like I was actively working towards clearing my acne every night. I would come up with new ideas through the week and save them for later to try. Secondly, I felt like I wasn’t completely lost with my acne anymore. I used to get overwhelmed trying to keep all of my past treatments and externalities (food, sleep schedules, stress, etc.) together in my head. I would recurrently try regimens that I’d already attempted and forgot about to see if they’d work this time. Now, I had a mental map, process, and actual log of what worked and what didn’t.

Issues Conor’s Acne Clearing “Scientific” Method

The above method worked, but it is definitely rudimentary and so I’d found a few annoyances.

  • Google Docs and Flickr (where I stored my photos) were completely unlinked. They are 2 different apps. I would have to date entries in the Google Doc and find them in another tab on Flickr to find the photos.Google is also now placing limits on photos and docs.
  • I had to use Flickr to store my photos because I now had nightly acne selfies showing up in my phone’s gallery. If I were then trying to show a friend another picture, all these acne photos would pop up. 😐 Also, Flickr, now has a 1k picture upload limit. 😐

Linking all these services sucked balls tho. So here’s an app.


So being a nerd myself, I coded a basic free app that I just released on iOS and Android. You can do all this with SkinTheory way easier then all the crap I had to do with linking services. Should be easy to use and you’ll never have to pay, so no worries. You can just delete it when you’ve got clear skin. Advertisement over.

I designed this app mostly on my own based on optimizing for my use and the above scientific process. My old method proved to be a pain in the ass to do all the comparing of logs and photos before, so the app has made this process way less time consuming.

SkinTheory is built in react-native, which proved to be amazing and terrifying all at once as we began developing. The RN cross-platform jazz is amazing, but sometimes bugs are just completely unforeseeable. One example is we had an issue where, if the iPhone UI happened to be in dark mode, text on a certain page would disappear. This is an easy fix but finding all this crap is time consuming. The camera isn’t always fun to deal with either in RN. Anyway, this is why we have beta testers and any feedback y’all Hackernooners give will be more than highly valued.

Conor’s Skin Success


I’m 25 now and completely clear. It’s a liberating feeling to be past acne but it did take time to find the correct regimen.

To wrap up what worked for me, I have crazy sensitive skin. The normal benzoyl peroxides and salicylic acids for solving acne would irritate my skin and cause more acne. I did isotretinoin 2 times, which worked, but the acne came back each time.

I learned that I had to be ONLY moisturizing 3x daily (thanks Acne.org!), using gentle non-comedogenic moisturizers and soaps, and managing my stress, sleeping habits, and showering post workouts. I do be one oily boy tho. 🛢 Also, college caused huge stress and also affected my sleeping/eating habits which seemed to be causing more acne for me in this painful feedback loop.

Anyway, best of luck gang. Feel free to PM me or email me ([email protected]) with any feedback or requests for the app. We really want to chat and make this work for y'all. Hope your experiments work out! 🔬


Join Hacker Noon

Create your free account to unlock your custom reading experience.