Acne sucks. Anyone who's suffered from regular and persistent breakouts can tell you just how much (hint: A LOT). The good news is there are ways to get rid of acne, backed by doctors and scientific studies, that will also drastically improve how you feel about your skin.
In a piece for About.com's Health section, professional aesthetician and skin care educator Angela Palmer noted that regular acne doesn't just affect our skin — it has major effects on our self-esteem and mental health as well. "Studies have shown that people with acne experienced social, psychological, and emotional ramifications at the same level of those with chronic health problems, like epilepsy, diabetes, and arthritis," Palmer wrote.
And most of us don't need a dermatologist or skin care expert to tell us how self-conscious a breakout can make us feel. It can be the difference between leaving the house feeling confident and wanting to hide inside all day. Plus, breakouts can make what would otherwise be fun and enjoyable moments feel overshadowed by insecurity.
Basically, acne can have a major effect on our lives, which is why getting it under control with actual scientifically proven methods can make such a difference to our quality of life. If you've been frustrated with acne or persistent breakouts, here are 11 tried and true methods that should seriously help.
1. Wash Your Makeup Brushes
According to Sejal Shah, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City in a piece for Women's Health, it's super important to clean our makeup brushes as often as we can — even after each use if possible. "You can actually have a host of issues from dirty brushes,” she said. “Acne, skin irritation, rashes, bacterial skin infections, and eye infections just to name a few. I've even seen fungal infections and herpes.”
2. Use A Chemical Exfoliant
According to skincare expert Paula Begoun and founder of the skin care line Paula's Choice, our skin sheds millions of cells everyday. This can lead to clogged and enlarged pores, which in turn can lead to acne. "When you finally gently get rid of the built up skin cells, you can unclog pores, stop breakouts, [and] smooth wrinkles," Begoun wrote. She specifically recommended a gentle AHA or BHA exfoliation lotion over harsh scrubs or brushes that can further irritate the skin.
3. Opt For Oil-Free
In a piece for Cosmopolitan, New York-based dermatologist Gervaise Gerstner stressed the importance of opting for oil-free formulas whenever possible. You can typically find most skin care products in oil-free versions these days, including sun screen.
4. Don't Use Wash Cloths
This is a tip my grandfather of all people gave me (he worked in sanitation and hygiene all his life). He noted we usually don't clean wash cloths as much as we should, and also typically keep them in a damp, moist bathroom where bacteria can flourish. We then typically put that same dirty, bacteria-ridden cloth to our faces. Switch over to disposable paper towels if you haven't already!
5. Clean Your Cell Phone Regularly
According to a piece featured in ABC news, studies show that our cell phones are one of the filthiest things in our lives. And according to board certified dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban in a piece for Prevention, the bacteria on our phone screens can also cause acne and breakouts.
6. Always Have Benzoyl Peroxide On Hand
In that same Cosmo piece, New York City dermatologist Doris Day recommended always having a tube of benzoyl peroxide with you to treat spots and the beginnings of breakouts. "Just don't use it for more than a week at a time," Day warned, since it can be pretty drying if over-used.
7. Grab The Honey
Professional aesthetician and YouTube skincare guru Veronica Goreois said that raw, organic honey is a kind of wonder product for acne-prone skin. She noted that it kills bacteria while also moisturizing, and doesn't contain a single harsh or damaging ingredient that could hurt your skin long term.
8. Take Some Zinc
On his website, science and biology writer Jon Brooks said that studies show that people who suffer from acne also often have zinc deficiencies. "To date, there have been four human studies all showing that zinc supplementation can reduce acne. The effects are not huge (it’s not a magic pill), but it will help. It’s also fairly cheap," Brooks wrote.
9. Watch Those Comedogenic Ratings
Gorgeois also noted that different skin care products — especially oils like argon and jojoba, have different comedogenic ratings (AKA are more or less likely to clog pores). She stressed the importance of checking the rating on any oil you're considering using on your skin and making sure it meets your needs (and yes — people with acne can use natural oils on their skin — it's just about choosing the right one).
10. Limit Your Stress
According to dermatologist Dr. Anne Chapas, founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology, in a piece for the The Huffington Post, stress levels can definitely increase acne. She noted that this is because when we're stressed, our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol, and acne is super linked to hormonal imbalances. If you're super stressed, try incorporating calming activities into your day, like mediation or scheduled down time.
11. Watch The Sugar
In the same HuffPost piece, Rachelle Wood, registered holistic nutritionist, said that diet can affect our skin, noting that refined sugars (found in things like white bread and candy) spike our insulin levels, which also affects our hormonal balance. If you've been struggling with breakouts for a while and feel like you've tried everything, try cutting back on refined carbohydrates and you just might see a difference!
No one likes breaking out, but the good news is there are scientifically proven ways to reduce it's occurrence. Just make sure all the tools and accessories that touch your face are clean, and always keep a few of the right products in your skincare arsenal.
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