Acne sucks! That is a fact. We all know it. Whether you have a monster zit right on your forehead, a few smaller spots during that time of the month, or you deal with the worst of all, cystic acne, you deserve a round of applause for dealing with such a crappy situation.

And sure, you’ve heard of and have probably even tried all the beauty products, remedies, and medications. As much as those can make a major difference in clearing your skin, some other steps tend to slip our minds. When you have an inflamed spot, your first thought is, how do I treat this? But what about all the other factors that play a part in your complexion? On top of creams and cleansers, there are a few small and sort of random things you can do to say goodbye to blemishes once and for all.

Regardless of spots, washing your sheets and pillowcases regularly is pretty darn important. Yes, we know putting that fitted sheet on your mattress is the workout of the century, but it is so worth it to have clean and fresh sheets. Your body is sweating, covered in lotion and hair products, and who knows what else, and you just continue to sleep on that build-up. Since we spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping, don’t you think we should spend that time wrapped in clean sheets? Professionals recommend washing your sheets at least once a week, but change your pillowcase even more if you suffer from acne. You’ll be shocked at the difference this can make to your skin. Your hair collects tons of gunk throughout the day, that gets on your pillow, and then your face just sits in it all night long — YUCK! Try to flip your pillow over each night, and if laundry sounds like too much work, pick up a few extra pillowcases to switch out regularly. You can do the same with your sheets. Not only will you have that cozy, freshly washed sheets feeling more often, but your skin will thank you.

Stop using your hand towel to dry your face. Your hand towel has tons of bacteria and germs you probably don’t even want to think about. And if you share a bathroom with one or several other people, that towel is breeding more bacteria than you can even imagine. From fecal matter to God knows what else, this towel is iffy to dry your hands with, let alone your face. If you are prone to acne, you should have your very own clean towel dedicated to drying your face. And you should not use this more than a handful of times without cleaning it. You can get a pack of flannels and wash them all at once, so you have a new one often. Also, remember to be gentle and pat your skin dry to prevent it from further irritation.

Wash your makeup brushes, sponges, and whatever else you use in your routine. Yes, this is a hassle, but is it worth the extra ten minutes? YES! The acne-causing bacteria that sits in your brushes only grows worse every day. So washing your brushes, and especially sponges regularly, will play a huge role in helping to keep your skin clear and beautiful. Now we do not expect you to suds up daily, but at least pick up a spray that cleans your brushes and lets them dry almost immediately. Then do a once-a-week deep cleansing. For your makeup sponge, once a week, pop it in a microwave-safe bowl with some water for about 30 seconds to zap bacteria away (careful, it will be hot).

Do NOT use a makeup applicator straight on the skin. This seems like such a normal thing to do, but it is a big no-no. Suppose you only use concealer under your eyes. In that case, it can be okay, but if you are putting a doe-foot applicator directly onto your spots, then back into the tube, then back on spots, you are spreading all of that acne-causing bacteria. Instead, apply concealer or foundation to the back of your hand and go in to apply onto your face with clean fingers or a clean brush or sponge. The same goes for beauty products that come in stick form or a jar. Always be sure your hands are clean and never go directly onto spots with a tool you can’t clean. If you decide not to break this cycle, you will continue to spread breakouts back and forth. Why do that when the fix is so simple?

Stop washing your face in the shower. It can seem like it saves time as you are already in the water and cleaning everything else, but the skin on your face is so different than on the rest of your body. And if you have acne, your skin is already irritated, possibly dehydrated, and needs extra care. Usually, in the shower, the water is a lot hotter than when you wash your face at the sink, and hot water does not open your pores. What it does do, however, is dry out your skin and strip it of its natural oils. Your skin needs those oils to heal itself and to remain balanced. When you wash your face in the shower, you risk more breakouts and irritate any you currently have. So save room in the shower, and keep your face cleanser on the counter.

And finally, watch for allergies. There are tons of food allergies and food sensitivities out there that you may not even realize you have. And although many will argue that food does not play a role in how clear your skin is, food allergies certainly do. You may feel fine every time you eat cheese or drink milk, but even a slight dairy sensitivity can cause breakouts. Another common sensitivity is to products containing soy. Although these things may not come up on an allergy test, they can lead to breakouts. So if you notice your skin gets angry after you indulge in a weekend of mac and cheese, ice cream, and mozzarella sticks, try to cut down on the dairy for about four weeks and see if you notice a difference. Not to mention, the hormones in many dairy products can mess with your skin and interact with hormonal breakouts. There is a lot of information out there about dairy and soy’s impact on your skin. Some studies support the correlation, and others, not so much, but if you think you can handle cutting down on dairy or soy for a while, it is worth a try.

This may seem like a lot of steps to take, but you know acne is tough. So we have to fight back by making some tough but worthwhile changes. Revealing clearer skin requires a lot of patience and trial and error. But if you hate acne as much as we do, it is worth having hope and determination. And we know, giving up cheese is a big loss, but having acne-free skin is a big gain.

Plus, you can always indulge in some pizza then do a face mask to counteract any potential breakouts if you just can’t part ways with all the cheesy goodness.