Acne vulgaris is a common dermatological disorder, one that is frequently associated with depression, anxiety and other psychological sequelae. In recent years there has been an increasing focus on the extent to which oxidative stress is involved in the pathophysiology of acne. Emerging studies have shown that patients with acne are under increased cutaneous and systemic oxidative stress. Indeed, there are indications that lipid peroxidation itself is a match that lights an inflammatory cascade in acne. The notion that lipid peroxidation is a 'starter gun' in acne is not a new one; here we review the nearly 50-year-old lipid peroxidation theory and provide a historical perspective to the contemporary investigations and clinical implications.In addition, we present a novel hypothesis in which lipid peroxidation may be priming an increased susceptibility to co-morbid depression and anxiety in those with acne. The emerging research on the systemic burden of oxidative stress in acne sheds further light on the brain-skin axis. The recent findings also suggest potential avenues of approach for the treatment of acne via specific nutrients, dietary modifications, oral and topical interventions.