How to Use Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to Heal the Emotional Pains of Acne

Do you need help getting rid of the painful emotions associated with your acne?

We all do! Acne is a devastating condition to live with – no doubt about it. Believe me – I know.

Today I’m going to talk about a popular method of releasing and letting go of painful emotions called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

Why Should You Care About Your Emotional Health If You have Acne?

Of course we know that having acne, especially chronic acne, can bring about some extremely distressing feelings.

But on top of that, the mean joke that life is playing on us is that in many cases, acne is actually worsened by stress. Maybe you’ve seen this in your own life. Maybe you’ve seen that when you have school exams, or you have a fight with your boyfriend, you break out.

But even worse than that – maybe you haven’t made that connection that acne is exacerbated by stress.

Maybe you don’t even really think that you’re that stressed out, or because your acne is pretty much constant, that there is no correlation there.

But there is a possibility that you could be deluding yourself. Especially if you’re someone who has tried everything for your skin, and even a change of diet or lifestyle doesn’t seem to totally work, no matter how strict you are. 

The reason is that many of us are just stressed out ALL the time. Maybe not in the classic sense (as in school exams), but we are stressed out because we don’t love ourselves. We put ourselves down. We don’t have self confidence. We think no one will love us if our skin is bad.

This makes us sad, and our body becomes a chronic state of low grade stress.

This low grade stress has probably become the norm – your regular way of being – so the stress may not be very noticeable on a daily basis. It probably pops up more significantly when the bad feelings about yourself are triggered by something – like a pimple!

The sad ironic thing is that this low-self-esteem style stress can actually be the cause of the chronic acne problem (not the other way around), which only creates a stressful loop of emotions as you become more and more actively stressed out about your skin.

Furthermore, many of you will find that even if you do manage to get rid of your acne, you aren’t healed emotionally. This is because while the emotions from having an acne problem feel very real to us, they actually aren’t real at all. Acne, inherently, means nothing, except for the meaning that we give it.

In our heads, it means that other people will think we are ugly. That we will not find someone who thinks we are attractive. It may mean that we think others will not take us seriously as adults.

None of this is necessarily the truth.

And if you have acne, AND have low self esteem, it usually means that once you get rid of your acne, you transfer your worries onto some other thing you don’t like about yourself. Or, (if you’re like me), you constantly worry that your acne is going to come back, which is almost as bad as having acne itself!

We must heal the hurts underneath to really be free of acne and to live the life that we want. Otherwise we will always be trapped.

Healing emotionally from acne is not easy. But there are tricks that you can use to help you move past the painful emotions. One trick is EFT.

What is Emotional Freedom Technique?

Emotional Freedom Technique is a short procedure where you tap on certain points of your body in a sequence while focusing in on the painful emotion that you would like to stop feeling. If it works as said, the feeling should go away and you will not be able to get it back no matter how much you try to focus on it.

In order to understand how EFT works, you need to know that the human body (as well as all other living things) has an energy field around it. This electrical energy is produced by the activities of cells and tissues. It is said in traditional Chinese Medicine that the electrical currents flow through patterns on the body called meridians.

Apparently, disturbances in these electrical fields can manifest themselves in all sorts of physical and emotional issues.

EFT works on the same principles as acupuncture – by tapping on certain “pressure points” where the meridians are said to run close to the surface of the skin, you are helping to align the energy in the  meridians and diffuse that emotional energy that feels oh so bad.

Anyway – for those of you with a purely western thinking mind, believing this stuff may be a leap of faith. But hey, acupuncture has definitely made its way into mainstream acceptance, and this is pretty much the same thing. So give it an open mind. It doesn’t hurt to try and you may be surprised with the results.

How Do You Do The Emotional Freedom Technique?

Step 1:

Tap on the karate chop of your hand while saying “Even though I — (insert problem here) —- I deeply and completely accept myself”. This is called a setup phrase, which contains both a negative (the problem), and the positive (you accept yourself despite having the problem). Be very specific about the problem.

Examples might be:

“Even though I get so embarrassed when I think people are looking at my skin, I deeply and completely accept myself”


“Even though acne makes me scared that no one will ever find me attractive, I deeply and completely accept myself”

Repeat the phrase three times while continuing to tap your karate chop.

Step 2:

Take a deep breath and really pay attention to how the painful emotion of this problem feels in your body and how much distress it is causing you.

Do you feel it as a tightness in your chest? Like an odd feeling in your stomach? Is it manifesting as a headache? Zero in on it, and give it a rating of 1 – 10 on how strong you feel it is.

Step 3:

Begin tapping the tapping points in sequence while you say a short descriptive phrase that reminds you of your problem and keeps you focused on it. This is called the reminder phrase. It is usually a shortened version of the setup phrase such as “this acne”. Try to feel the emotions that “this acne” makes you feel, as you tap.

For the tapping points, you can tap on either side of the body, or on both sides at once, using your index, middle, and ring fingers (or whatever is most comfortable for you). Tap each point 7 to 10 times, at a steady rate of 2 to 4 taps per second.

Here is a basic chart of the 12 tapping points starring yours truly. You may find charts with different tapping points, but the common theme seems to be that there are twelve of them. These were the ones that I learned:

The order is:

  1. The edge of the inner eyebrow
  2. Just to the outside of the eye
  3. Below the eye – right below the pupil
  4. Between nose and top of your mouth
  5. Just below the bottom lip (above chin)
  6. On the very inner edge of your collarbone
  7. The inside edge of the tip of your thumb
  8. The inside edge of the tip of your index finger
  9. The inside edge of the tip of your middle finger (skip your ring finger)
  10. The inside edge of your pinkie finger
  11. The edge of your hand (the karate chop)
  12. The gamut point (on the back of your hand, between the bones of your pinkie and ring fingers)

Step 4:

This seems to be optional part of the routine, but you may want to include it. It’s called the 9-gamut procedure and it’s for activating both sides of your brain which helps to integrate the changes you’ve made, and may help you get faster results.

You may already know that the right brain processes creative, intuitive information, and the left brain processes linear, analytical information. The 9 gamut procedure is a series of 9 simple actions that you do while tapping the gamut point on the back of your hand (between the bones of the ring and little finger). This activates both sides of the brain at once.

These are:

  • Close your eyes for a second or two.
  • Open your eyes.
  • Send eyes down hard right, while holding your head steady.
  • Send eyes down hard left, while holding your head steady.
  • Roll your eyes in a clockwise circle.
  • Roll your eyes in an anti-clockwise circle.
  • Hum 2 seconds of a song, eg. happy birthday.
  • Count rapidly from one to five.
  • Hum 2 seconds of the song again.

Step 5:

When you’re done, take a deep breath and try to focus on the problem. How does it feel? Has the distress diminished? Give the pain another rating on the scale of 1 – 10. Hopefully the intensity has lessened – maybe it’s completely gone!

Step 6:

If you still feel distress over the problem, you can tap on it again, but change the setup phrase slightly to address the remainder of the problem. So if your setup phrase was “Even though this acne makes me feel ugly, I deeply and completely accept myself”, then the phrase would be “Even though this acne still makes me feel somewhat ugly, I deeply and completely accept myself”.

Again, the order of the EFT sequence is:

  1. Choose setup statement and say it 3 times while tapping your karate chop
  2. Rate your distress on a Level of 1 to 10
  3. Do the full tapping sequence saying your reminder phrase as you go
  4. Optional: Do the 9-Gamut Sequence to activate both sides of your brain for deep changes
  5. Rate your distress on a level of 1 – 10 again in order to contrast improvements
  6. Do it again if you still feel some distress over the problem, changing the setup phrase slightly

Video where I explain the process and demonstrate it:

Using EFT for Acne Specific Issues

I found this amazing resource on this website. It’s an awesome cheat sheet on which phrases to use during your EFT sessions to get to the bottom of your acne specific issues.

Stress Related Acne : A Self Help Sheet

If you have acne or other skin condition that seem overwhelming to you, perhaps EFT can help provide some relief. The longer you have had this problem the more difficult it may be to completely release it, but persistence pays. If your acne gets worse under stress, then EFT may be just the thing for you.

Start with addressing those subconscious beliefs that block healing: “Psychological Reversals”

Start with removing some psychological reversals- negative self-limiting beliefs- that are typical of acne sufferers. Yours may not be exactly the same, but you are welcome to change the words to fit your own circumstances.

Tapping on the side of your hand just below your pinkie, say each of the following statements three to six times:

Even though I have this acne condition, I accept myself. (You can use your own words for the italicised part).

Even though I feel ugly, embarrassed, ashamed,_________________ (any other emotions that come to mind ), I accept myself.

Even if I never get over this acne condition, I accept myself.

Try these phrases if they make sense to you or fit with your situation:

Even though I’ve tried everything to get rid of this skin condition, I accept myself.

Even if I haven’t tried everything yet, I accept myself.

Even if I don’t really want to completely get over my acne, I accept myself.

Even if I have a secret reason for keeping this skin condition I accept myself.

Even if it’s not safe for me to be completely free of acne, I accept myself.

Even if other people don’t deserve for me to get over my acne, I accept myself.

Even though I use my acne as an excuse to __ not do something __________________ or as a reason ­­­­____ to do something else_________________, I accept myself ( you fill in the blanks here).

If I could erase one person or event from my past that would be ______________________________ because________________________

Key Question to Get at the Root Cause of Acne

This question may provide some clue as to what is behind your acne. If it is an event that happened to you, make a list of all the upsetting aspects, or pieces of this event and tap through each piece, starting at the beginning of the event and for each aspect, tapping

1) the inner eyebrow area 2) the outer eye, 3) under the eye 4) below the nose, 5) under the lips 6) the edge of the collar bone 7) tip of the inside of the thumb 8.) tip of the inside of the index finger, 9) tip of the inside of the middle finger, 10) tip of the inside of the pinkie finger, 11) karate chop point, 12) gamut point on back of hand

Typically, you will find that the original issue might disappear from your radar, but other issues present themselves. Work on each of these in turn. You may have to make a long list and go through it over time, but at some point, you will notice improvement in your skin condition. If you hear yourself blaming anyone, including yourself for your having acne, then this too is an issue to do a reversal statement on.”Even though it is __________ fault that I have acne, I accept myself and I forgive _______.

Shoulds, Musts and Ought to’s

If you find yourself mentally using should statements or must statements, these are also important clues to incorporate in your reversal statements.

Even though I should eat healthier, or Even though I should take better care of my skin, or even though I should do __________________________, I accept myself.

What are your fears surrounding your acne?________________________________________

Even though I will never get a date, get married, or have a normal life, I accept myself. Even though no one will talk to me, be my friend or date me as long as I look like this, I accept myself. (You know what those fears are for you – use your own fears here.)

Anger May Be The Key To Your Acne

Anger is a common underlying emotion for acne sufferers. If you were angry at anyone or anything, who, or what, would it be?

Even though I am angry at _______________, and ___________________ and ____________________ for __________________________________, I accept myself and I forgive anyone involved in the situation. Even though my anger only hurts me, and it has no physical effect on anyone else, I accept myself. Even though my anger shows up in my body in a way I don’t want, I accept myself.(3 times)

You may have a long list of people you are angry at, so write this list down and get to work. Describe each incident in a few words and assign a number from 1-10 beside it. Start tapping through the rounds as listed above for each one. Bring each down to 0 if possible, before moving on to the next. If you find that you are not making progress on a particular issue, then this is a sign of psychological reversal. Think of some “even though” statements to work through while tapping the karate chop spot.

Does It Really Work?

In my experience, it does seem to actually work to diminish a painful emotion.

I remember when I first tried out EFT a couple of years ago, I used it in a situation that I was really nervous about (non-acne related). I was having tons of nervous energy that was a bit draining, and when I used the EFT, the nervousness legitimately disappeared. I was really impressed and surprised.

I’ve also used it in more recent times after having a petty fight with my boyfriend, Luke, and it totally helped me to stop being so uptight and emo about it.

With acne, if I am feeling bad about a pimple, it is effective to get rid of the immediate emotions.

However, I have to admit that I am not all that versed in EFT quite yet and have not got down and dirty into the real nitty gritty stuff that keeps me hanging onto my fears about acne. Yes, I am as good a procrastinator as anyone. Mostly I just wasn’t sure of the types of setup phrases I should use to really target my issues.

However, now that I have found that handy EFT acne guide I just posted above, I’m excited and ready to take on the challenge. And now that you know how to do it, maybe we can all tap along together and see how we go!

Give EFT a Try

EFT could be a really awesome tool for you to finally release some of the anger, sadness, and frustration that is caused by acne, or may be causing your acne. It can take a bit of effort to learn the routine, but once you do, you can go through a set of taps in a couple of minutes.

If you find that you like EFT and think that it helps, but you’re still not really sure how to get to the bottom of your specific issues, or you’re really not sure what the problem actually is, there is a growing body of EFT practitioners available all over the world who can help you, either via Skype, telephone, or in person. For example, Mildred Thill who wrote the acne cheat sheet above is an EFT practitioner.

Happy tapping.

Have you heard of EFT or tried EFT before? Are you interested in giving it a try?

photo by Mischelle and Meredith Farmer

You can totally be happy, healthy and acne free!

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  1. Autumn says

    I can’t help but think that acne is only somewhat related to stress, just like stress affects the body negatively, the first responses to stress in the body affect digestion, hair and skin. But, I know that before I had acne I had extremly stressful events in my life that did not lead to acne, not even to a break out that I can remember.

    It wasn’t until I went off the pill and used an IUD with hormones (they wouldn’t give me copper) then swithced back to birth control 4-6 later, that I had uncontrolable acne. The worst part is that 5 years later I am still trying to control it. Your site has been very helpful though and I think I am finally making some progress.

    So, I think that stress definetly does affect your skin, but I think that there is often another trigger first. Then once the skin has been damaged it is a long process of healing, that may take form in the long term as maintenance, like many diseases.

    EFT seems like an awesome way to channel stress, and reformulate negative hurtful messages we keep reinforcing in ourselves. It seems very meditative and accesible. Especially when emotions are riding high this can be a good tool to step back, reaccess, and rebalance. I think we all could use that from time to time.

    A book I read that I think is a useful, but somewhat unconventional tool is Augusten Bouroughs (if any of you out there read him or seen some press about this book) “This is How”. He has a lot of insight on how to move on with your life no matter what is holding you back. One thing he does believe though is that not everyone is set to happy on the happiness scale and to be ok with that. We all are wired differently, just like not everyone has brown hair and brown eyes. But I believe that everyone can make their lives a little easier and focus on positive thinking and mediation. We can all move along the scale but we should not necessarily measure ourselves to someone elses mark or ideal on the happiness scale.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Autumn – yes every case of acne has causes, triggers and exacerbating factors that are different from each other. For some people stress is major, for others, not as much. Or, yes, as you say, stress only worsens and underlying issue. Or, sometimes people only break out in response to certain kinds of stress (perhaps only stressors that relate to their self esteem). It allll depends. But either way – I’m willing to bet that most people are stressed BY their acne or at least have some unpleasant feelings about it that could be released by things like EFT.

      Anyway – I’ll have to check out that book by Augusten Boroughs! Sounds interesting! Thanks Autumn.

      • Autumn says

        You are right, everyone’s situation is different. I had a lot of emotional pain back when my acne was at it’s worst. I wish I had something to help me to redirect and relieve some of that pain. I will definetly try this next time a stress ball rears it’s head.

  2. Kim says

    Hey Tracy,
    Thanks for awesome post! Yes, it very true! I think acne is very related to stress!!
    Currently on vacation and havent been able to follow my healthy doet, so i broke out! Its probably not the food, but me stressing so much about it!!!
    Thanks for explaining all of this!

    • Tracy says

      Yep that happens to me all the time! It’s sucky! Hopefully you can put EFT to good use :) Let me know how it goes if you do.

  3. Rebecca says

    Hi, I recently started the caveman skincare routine (aka no routine at all). Do you have any theories on how this routine might help out someone who doesn’t have acne? I have a few pimples a month but nothing terribly severe. My main skin issue is texture-related; my skin is reddish and rough-looking skin with excessive oiliness. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. I love your site, btw! So informative.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Rebecca – I think it will definitely help your skin texture as the principle of it is to repair your skin to its natural state and let it do its own thing – many times oiliness, dryness and other factors are completely or mostly due to washing the face, or products we use that irritate it and throw it off its natural balacne. So yes, I definitely think you have a great chance of it working well for you, but it will get very weird in the first month, so be prepared for the texture to get worse at first

  4. Katherine says

    Hi Tracy!

    Right now I am taking a summer vacation in Austria. I am visiting my grandparents. I am only sixteen but I really do enjoy it here. I had no acnebefore I came here. But once I arrived in Austria my acne has gotten worse. My back acne came back and my new chest acne is very depressing. I have clogged pores on my face, but I can live with those. I have been feeling really down lately because of this new acne. But your EFT idea really worked for me. I now feel less stressed and less worried. I could say a lot more on how my life is stressful, but I don’t feel it anymore. I appreciate your help, I know it is going to make a difference. I believe I have reacted so badly here is because at home I had a healthy diet that I stuck to so I could get my acne under control. I know when I go back I will restart over again. Thank you for your help, and when I get home I am planning on buying your book. Thank you so much.

    • Tracy says

      That’s so fantastic Katherine! That’s so great to hear that it really worked for you – I hope you manage to have some fun in Austria for the rest of your time there :)

  5. Joan says

    Thank you for providing the info on EFT! My daughter reports EFT enabled her to successfully obtain her driving license today as her anxiety was tamed!! I am hopeful that she will be motivated to continue this practice and meet with lots of other success !
    Your message and the AV content are excellent! Thanks again & best wishes in your ongoing work!
    From a grateful Mom :)

    • Tracy says

      Woohoo! That’s awesome – I wish I had known about EFT back when I took my driver’s test – I failed miserably the first time I took it because I was so nervous! Best wishes to you and your daughter, Joan :)

  6. says

    I’m really inspired with your writing skills as neatly as with the layout for your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it your self? Either way stay up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to peer a nice weblog like this one nowadays.

  7. says

    Thanks a ton..that’s a really detailed description of the procedure.
    I have faced acne during teenage and know how traumatic it is for a teenager to put up with a skin condition like that. Now that my 15 year old is going through the same phase, i will ask him to try EFT.
    Sounds good. And inexpensive. No side effects too, I hope!
    I’ll surely get back to you if it works out for him.

  8. says

    Hey! I love your blog.
    Just wanted to let you know that the collarbone point is approximately one inch below and one inch the the right of the inner corner of the right collar bone (and to the left for left collarbone). You’ll know when you find it, it’s quite sensitive. This is the most important point especially for women. It’s also a great idea to massage this spot when feeling particularly stressed out!
    Much love!

  9. Acadia says

    Hi Tracy!

    I have a question about the words that are said during the EFT process. I genuinely like the idea and think it could be helpful (I haven’t tried it yet, I’ll explain why…) but I’m worried about the repetion of “the problem”. For instance reminding myself of “this acne” while I’m going through the different points seems like it might make stress me out. Not by any means trying to point out a flaw in EFT, just wondering if you have any thoughts on a solution for an anxious and nervous girl like me?

    I thought of maybe repeating “Completely accept myself” instead?

    Or should I be actively thinking about the problem, and maybe the process is supposed to be relaxing me?

    Thanks so much for your amazing blog, you’ve become a type of daily inspiration.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Acadia,
      Hmm I don’t know. I just assumed that since this is the procedure, there must be a good reason for it. I have heard quite a few times that it is important to really feel an emotion before letting it go… maybe it’s because if you’re hiding from feeling it then you will hide from really letting go of it? I don’t know. If you are really curious about this, I’d contact an EFT practitioner and maybe they’ll be able to give you a better answer!

  10. syeda says

    Please tell me what phrase I use for unwanted facial hairs……I loose my confidence when I go out…..its ……….:(

    • Tracy says

      Hi lovely, you can use the same script as described in the blue box at the end of the article, except instead of using the words “skin condition” or “acne condition”, you’d substitute “facial hairs”

  11. Kaitlyn says

    Hi Tracy!

    I’ve just come across your articles about how your emotional health affects acne. I’ve been on my journey toward clear skin for quite a while now and have been working on my physical health, but have just started working on my emotional health.

    I’ve tried EFT a few times now, but I am still feeling the same feelings I’ve been trying to work through. I’ve tried changing the wording slightly like you mentioned and then doing the tapping series again, but I don’t feel like these feelings have been resolved. (Even though I’ve read that it usually only takes one time to completely clear an emotion.) After I do the tapping sequence, I don’t feel lighter or better. The only thing I really feel throughout the whole sequence is a tingling on my hand when I do the karate chop at the beginning and end of the sequence.

    I’ve followed the steps exactly, but I’m wondering if you might have any tips or suggestions?

    Thank you, and thank you so much for your wonderful blog!!


    • says

      Hi Kaitlyn, I’m not too sure, I would advise working with a trained EFT practitioner to help you through this if you are wanting to continue with the modality! Good luck! And thanks for being a L Vitamin reader, I really appreciate it :)

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