When it comes to acne, there are (unfortunately) tons of factors that could be contributing to your breakouts. And one of those factors is the materials that come in contact with your face and body every day. Which is why it's important to keep not only your skin clean but also the things that routinely touch it clean. But how often should you wash your pillowcase and other belongings such as towels and sheets, anyway? To find out, I emailed with a couple of experts.
Jordana Mattioli, NYC-based esthetician, and Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, both let me in on some guidelines for washing your clothes and sheets to help keep acne at bay. As far as the maximum time between washes is concerned, Dr. Tanzi reveals that you should never go more than two weeks between loads of sheets, towels, pajamas, bras, or anything else that you would normally use more than once before washing. And while Mattioli agrees that skin with no acne issues can afford to wait longer between washes, if you suffer from acne or are acne-prone, she recommends a slightly more rigid laundry-schedule. So you can eliminate possible contributors to face and body acne, here's when you should wash some of your belongings:
"Bacteria, oils, and residue from skincare products and hair products all end up on your pillowcase and can absolutely contribute to acne or irritation," says Mattioli. So to help prevent this from happening, she recommends changing your pillowcase every day, or at least flipping it over to get two nights out of one pillowcase before changing it. She adds that some other precautions you can take involve sleeping with a scarf wrapped around your hair if you use a lot of hair products so that residue doesn't end up on your pillow; skipping fabric softener when washing your pillowcase if you have allergies or sensitive skin, as the fragrance could cause irritation; and only using pillowcases made of natural fibers such as cotton or silk that allow your skin to breathe.
While you can also take the same precautions of avoiding synthetic fibers and fabric softener with your linens, they don't need to be changed quite as often as your pillowcase. According to Mattioli, once per week should be enough. However, she does warn about thread count. This is because, with higher thread count, "the tighter the thread, the less oxygen that passes through it, and more debris (pet dander, dust mites, oil from skin, bacteria, dead skin cells) will just collect and irritate the skin." More isn't always better after all.
To ensure that your bath towel isn't contributing to any breakouts, Mattioli recommends washing it after every two or three uses. She adds to make sure you air out your bathroom after every bath or shower so that your towels can properly dry after you use them.
Face washcloths need to be changed a little more frequently though, and Mattioli suggests sending them for a wash after each use.
To keep body breakouts at bay, try to wash your bras every three to four wears, says Mattioli.
Pajamas, like bras, should also be able to be worn three or four times before needing a wash, Mattioli explains. She adds, however, that it is better to opt for PJs made from natural fibers like cotton so your skin can breathe. If yours are synthetic, she recommends that they instead be washed after one use, or that you simply switch to pajamas made from natural fibers.
Because even though the things you touch could contribute to breakouts, if you keep 'em clean, you can help keep acne at bay.
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