How To Get Rid of Acne | Best Spot Treatment | How To Use Benzoyl Peroxide | Prevent Acne (2018)
How to Stop Breakouts
Breakouts can make us feel unattractive, insecure, and sometimes even ashamed. We know that the most important beauty is on the inside, but it’s hard for many of us to kick the desire to be beautiful on the outside, too. Beyond beauty, some breakouts are just plain painful. This article contains tips and tricks for fighting breakouts and maintaining blemish-free skin.
Cleaning Your Face
Figure out your skin type.Your skin will likely fall into one of five categories: normal, oily, dry, sensitive, or combination (i.e. dry in some spots, oily in others).
- Normal skin has little to no imperfections, no major sensitivities, tiny pores, and a healthy glow. (Normal skin sounds more perfect than normal, doesn’t it?)
- Oily skin has blemishes such as blackheads, pimples etc. It has enlarged pores and the complexion may be dull or shiny.
- Dry skin has barely visible pores, rough/dry patches, redness, and a dull complexion.
- Sensitive skin will often be red, itchy, dry, or irritated in some way.
- Combination skin is dry or normal in some areas, and often oily in the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin).
Buy a facial cleanser that is right for your skin.Most companies make this easy by putting the skin type that the wash is designed for right on the label. You may even consider buying a facial cleanser that is specifically designed for acne.
- Ingredients to look for in acne-targeting cleansers include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycol acid, or lactic acid, but be careful as these can dry your skin.
- If you prefer natural treatments, you may consider using a face wash with tea tree oil or witch hazel.
- If you have a lot of breakouts, gentle cleansers that won’t spread the infection or further irritate your skin are best.
Wash your face twice a day.There are differing opinions as to whether or not you should wash more than this, with some experts advising to wash twice a day plus after sweating (i.e. more than twice a day), and other experts arguing that to wash more than twice a day could irritate your skin.
- If you have dry skin, you may choose to only wash it once each night before bed, and then use only cool water on your face in the morning so as not to dry out your skin.
- If you have oily skin, don’t give in to the temptation to wash it more often. Still use a gentle cleanser and wash twice a day (and after sweating, if you find that it helps).
- Sensitive skin can be easily irritated by ingredients in your bath products, or even just too hot of a shower. It may help to buy products that are unscented and that have as few ingredients as possible. It’s largely trial and error, but choosing products that are specifically designed for sensitive skin (it will say so on the label) is your best bet.
Avoid using abrasive cleansers or skin brushes.Contrary to popular belief, harshly scrubbing the skin can actually make acne worse.Experts recommend exfoliating once or twice a week at most, and only if your skin is free of zits.
- If you have whiteheads, you may very well end up popping them and then spreading the infection as you use an exfoliating scrub on your face.
- Exfoliating is meant to remove dead skin cells, so if your skin is flakey, it would be appropriate to use an exfoliator. The flakiness may be a sign of dryness though, so be careful not to exfoliate more than twice a week as it will only dry out your skin further.
Apply a toner to your face.After washing your face, wet a cotton ball or cotton pad with a facial toner, and gently apply it to your face. This can help remove oils and cells not caught by the cleanser. It can also help balance your skin’s pH levels.
- Avoid toners that contain alcohol, even if you have oily skin.
- pH stands for “potential hydrogen”, which refers to your skin’s acid-alkaline ratio.
Moisturize your skin.Again, most moisturizers will be labelled by skin type. Seek a moisturizer that won’t clog your pores. Choose one that is noncomedogenic, which means it shouldn't cause acne.
Protecting Your Skin Further
Use a topical anti-acne cream.You can buy these at your local drugstore or, if you desire something stronger, you can get something prescribed.
- When buying over-the-counter formulations, look for products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycol acid, or lactic acid. Start small to ensure that the product doesn’t irritate your skin.
Avoid friction against your skin.This includes exfoliating face washes, but also popping zits, wearing a bike helmet, plucking your eyebrows — really anything that may cause some stress to your skin. Friction of any kind will increase your chances of breaking out.
- For men who shave their faces, shaving and shaving products can also cause breakouts.Ideal shaving gels are lubricating gels or prescription ones containing benzoyl peroxide or a topical antibiotic. Shave downward, in the direction of hair growth, with a sharp razor.
Do not pop or pick zits.This only prolongs healing and could spread the infection, creating a cluster of zits around the original one. It can also cause acne scars.
Avoid touching your face.Touching your face can cause flareups for a number of reasons. Your hands may be oily or have dirt on them, and the friction of your fingers on your face could irritate your skin.
Wash your hair regularly.Oily hair can make for an oily face and, if your hair is longer, it may cause breakouts on your neck or back, too. In addition, pay attention to your hair products, being careful to avoid fragrances, oils, pomades, or gels, which can transfer from your hair to your skin and clog your pores.
Wear as little makeup as possible.Whether your acne is mild or severe, it’s always tempting to cover it up; doing so will likely only make your acne worse. If you must wear makeup, choose formulas that are non-greasy, non-comedogenic (or non-acnegenic), hypoallergenic, non-irritation, and oil free.
- Choose products whose first ingredient is water.
- Mineral-based cosmetics are often good choices for acne-prone skin.
- If you can’t avoid wearing makeup, try to at least not wear it when you are at home. Wash it off as soon as you’re home from school or work. On the weekends, try to go without.
Wear sunscreen.Choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and offers both UVA and UVB protection. Look for light, non-pore-clogging sunscreens that are either water-based, light liquid-based gels, or spray-on.Burnt skin is weaker skin, more prone to blemishes and lines.
- Avoid chemicals such as PABA and benzophenone, which are irritants.
- Ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are okay.
See your doctor.If you are struggling with moderate to severe acne, you may want to see a doctor. A doctor can refer you to a dermatologist, and can also prescribe you medications if he or she sees fit.
- Medications include antibiotics, isotretinoin, and for women, certain birth control pills and other pills that target hormones.
- Dermatological procedures include laser and other light therapies, chemical peels, and drainage and extraction.
- Contrary to popular belief, diet has not been scientifically proven to cause acne. Nor has stress. That said, it can’t hurt to live a healthier lifestyle!
- It’s always a good idea to drink enough water. Dry skin can break out just as easily as oily skin. Drinking enough water can help keep your skin moisturized.
- Some acne medications can increase your sensitivity to sunlight (both natural and artificial, such as that produced by tanning beds). Be sure to wear extra sun protection (including sunscreen, a hat, etc.) if you are taking one of these medications.
- Isotretinoin specifically targets severe cystic acne, and has been successful in clearing it up within one course (4-5 months) of treatment for roughly 85% of patients. Side effects range from dry mouth and upset stomach to depression and pancreatitis (sometimes fatal). As with any medication, consult a physician and be aware of all the risks before choosing to take it.
- If you choose to use essential oils in your skincare regime, be sure to dilute them before putting them on your skin.
Sources and Citations
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