One of the biggest roadblocks to achieving clear, beautiful-looking skin? Acne. Yes, zits are annoying. Yes, they’re aesthetically unpleasing. And yes, we feel your pain. As much as it may seem like it, that breakout didn't appear to ruin your life. Whether it’s a full-fledged breakout battleground or a random pimple here and there, we’ve all had our bouts with blemishes at one point or another.
The truth is, acne has many causes, some that you can control, like washing your face and changing your pillowcase, and some that you can't, like genetics and hormonal fluctuations. That's why it's important to understand what is causing your breakouts, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.
So, what is acne?
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It causes whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples that typically appear on your face, forehead, chest, upper back, and shoulders due to these areas of skin having the most oil (sebaceous) glands.
Four main factors that cause acne
Excess oil (sebum) production
Hair follicles clogged by oil and dead skin cells
Factors that can worsen acne
Tips & Tricks to Fight Acne
Though a solid skincare routine is very important in improving your skin’s health. There are a few things that you can do beyond that in which will give you that healthy, glowing and smooth skin we all dream about. Below are some tips and tricks to treat and prevent those annoying, painful breakouts from occurring.
Make Movement a Priority
Moving around and getting enough exercise is helpful for your entire body, but it’s also key to keeping your skin healthy. When you sweat, the act of sweating helps clear out your pores and eliminates toxins that increase your risk of blemishes. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
Take a Shower After the Gym
Do you notice pimples and zits popping up after hitting the gym? All that sweat is mixing with the dead skin cells, oil, and impurities on your face and body and wreaking havoc. Post-workout, opt for a shower right away. This will help you cleanse sweat off your body and reduce the risk of “bacne.”
Bonus tip: Don’t workout with makeup on. Sweat, makeup, and impurities are a potential pore-clogging combo. Start your workouts with fresh, clean skin.
Keep Your Hair Clean
If excess oil in the hair travels to the skin, it can worsen acne. Regularly washing the hair may stop acne from developing, especially close to the hairline. Also, refrain from getting products such as hair gel or spray on the face. These can also clog pores and lead to breakouts.
Regularly Change Your Face Towel
When you think about it, consistently reaching for your go-to face towel every day is like reusing a dinner napkin over and over again. Using dirty towels can harbor bacteria, and they can even introduce new bacteria to your skin, which may lead to more pimples.
Hydration is Crucial for Battling Breakouts
Your skin sees a lot of abuse from the sun and elements that dry out our skin. When our skin is dry, we often overproduce oil to try to compensate for the dryness. This means an increase in oil production which creates more sebum meaning more acne!
Similarly, when we have pimples, we tend to use harsh products that can dry our skin, rather than just the targeted blemishes. Moisturizing and hydrating your face helps to balance your skin’s complexion and prevents acne breakouts.
Drink an Extra Glass of Water
Water helps clear toxins from the skins surface that cause inflammation and blemishes. It also assists in transporting nutrients and oxygen to skin cells and prevents dehydration. It can even make skin appear fuller since the hyaluronic acid that naturally exists in skin will pull in and retain the water longer.
Apply SPF Daily
The sun’s UV rays do serious damage to your skin and eliminate the benefits of even the best skincare routine. Protect your skin by applying sunscreen or moisturizers with SPF every day, even when it’s cloudy.
Hands Off. Don’t Pop That Zit
Picking—even lightly—can permanently damage skin. Every time you press against a pimple, it causes inflammation and distress to the skin. Causing bacteria to be pushed deep inside the pore, and then oil glands can burst, causing even more trauma.
The result? More acne, plus discoloration, scarring, and possible infection. Instead, use an acne spot treatment with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide on the problem areas morning and night.
If you're really hooked on popping, leave it to the pros and schedule regular monthly extractions with an aesthetician who knows how to do them safely and gently.
Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Studies have shown that on average 72% of women never wash their brushes or sponges, even though they harbor dirt and bacteria which can cause breakouts. It is best to wash loose powder brushes every two to three weeks, and tools used to apply foundation once a week.
Sanitize Your Smartphone
According to a Stanford University study, an iPhone can get more germ-infested than a toilet in a subway bathroom. In fact, the glass touchscreens on mobile devices are so good at spreading viruses that sharing them may be almost as bad as sneezing in someone's face.
Here's a scary thought: All those germs land right on your cheek and jawline every time you chat away, causing pimples and irritation. Since we cannot stop using our phones, to keep your phone (and face) bacteria-free, wipe it down with an antibacterial disinfecting wipes a few times a day.
Wash and Change Your Pillowcase
Not changing your pillowcases enough can also cause your skin to break out. Even if you wash your face every night, your pillowcases carry dirt and sweat from your hair, hands, and build up from the products you use on your face at night. It's a good idea to change it every few days.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress causes high cortisol levels, which can leave your skin looking dull and unhealthy. Find ways to reduce your stress. Go on a walk, meditate, play games you love—whatever works to help you relax and unwind.
Take Off Your Makeup Before Bed
Leaving makeup and dirt on skin doesn't just clog pores; it can cause excessive dryness and even skin dandruff. Most makeup contains a sugar-type molecule that can grow yeast overnight. Don't forget to thoroughly remove eye makeup too. It can lead to bumpy rashes around the eyes or small white bumps called milia cysts.
Don't Irritate Your Acne with Toothpaste or Rubbing Alcohol
Sure, we’ve all heard that toothpaste or rubbing alcohol can help dry out a zit, but many DIY treatments aren't solutions for how to treat acne. In fact, applying toothpaste or rubbing alcohol are more likely to cause irritation and dryness than treat the actual pimple. Instead, stick with topical over-the-counter and prescription spot treatments with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide that are specially made to target pimples.
Be Patient with Your Products
When it comes to our face and skincare regimen, we expect to see instant results, and it seems our patience is exceptionally thin when this doesn’t happen. So, we think that if we use a bunch of products all at once, we are speeding up the healing process. But this skincare myth can cause you to breakout further or experience additional skin problems.
When you wake up with acne or a problem skin, the urge to layer on multiple products in the hopes of seeing a dramatic change can be irresistible, and we are all guilty of abandoning those same products very quickly if we are not getting our expected results within a day or two. This process will not help you to fight your breakout. You should introduce your skin to one new product at a time and be patient, as frustrating as it is seeing results can take weeks. But you will be better off and less frustrated long term.
Get Enough Sleep
When you sleep, your body and mind get to rest and recover, and so does your skin. Not sleeping enough can make your hormones get out of whack and raise your body's stress levels, which can make you breakout. Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep to look and feel your best.
Eat Natural and Healthy Foods
We now know that a bad diet is one of the leading factors contributing to the development of acne. A bad diet can negatively affect hormone regulation and the process of natural elimination of toxins. One of the best ways to promote skin health is to focus on your diet. Get rid of processed and high-sugar foods and switch to eating tons of leafy greens, fresh fruits, lean proteins, and unprocessed foods each day.
Consider adding a lycopene-rich food, such as watermelon will help reduce damage and redness caused from sun exposure, regulate your skins sebum (oil) production to battle blemishes, prevents future wrinkling and possibly even lowers skin cancer risk. If you would like to learn more about healthy foods rich in vitamins to help you achieve healthy glowing skin Check out our full article!