If you're struggling with acne, you've likely tried every trick in the book to make it go away. But, as you probably know, drugstore spot treatments, DIY face masks, and your friend's "magic cures" don't always work. If you're feeling frustrated, you should try these little-known acne-fighting tips that actually work — at least as a last ditch effort before going to a dermatologist.
Acne can be one of those problems that sticks around for years, as well as one that doesn't always have an obvious solution. "Acne is so difficult to treat because there are so many variables that could be contributing to it," licensed esthetician Marissa Benson tells Bustle. "Diet, genetics, [pore clogging] products — it needs to be battled with a 360 plan. One can't expect one product or tactic to solve it. It has to be approached from all angles."
Again, this may be best tackled in a dermatologist's office. He or she can take a look at the type of acne you have and prescribe a tailor-made plan to clear things up. Until then, it's certainly OK to try to clear things up at home. Read on for some genius ways to fight acne, all on your own.
1. Clean Your Phone
When was the last time you gave your phone a once over with an antibacterial wipe? If it's been a while, go clean it right now. "It carries so much bacteria," says Ava Allan, an esthetician with Dirty Girl Farm. "I can usually tell what's causing the younger generation's breakouts. It's usually in the shape of a phone down the side of their cheeks."
2. Moisturize More Often
You may be hesitant to apply moisturizer to greasy skin, but trust me. "Moisturizing the skin twice daily can ... improve the acne condition," board-certified dermatologist Fayne L. Frey, MD, FAAD tells Bustle. "By increasing the water content of the most superficial layer of skin ... studies have shown [it] improves acne." Definitely worth a try.
3. Avoid Rough Exfoliating Treatments
When your face is breaking out, it's so tempting to find the grainiest scrub and have at it. But do try to resist. "If you have active acne don't use any type of scrub with granules in it," Allan says. "Instead use a chemical exfoliant .. so you are not spreading bacteria."
4. Do What You Can To De-Stress
While this one's easier said than done, decreasing your stress can lead to clearer skin. "Stress has a lot to do with hormone imbalance and acne," NYC-based registered nurse Rebecca Lee tells Bustle. "Stress causes an increase in cortisol (stress hormone), which leads to an increase in androgens (male sex hormones), and more acne." Try adding in deep breathing, afternoon walks, or yoga as a way to relax.
5. Add More Healthy Fats To Your Diet
If you equate fatty food with pimply skin, it may be time to change your thinking. "Healthy fats decrease inflammation and androgens, and balances out hormones," says Lee. Thus, adding them to your diet can help you get clearer skin. Some healthy fats to consider? Try avocado, salmon, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
6. Wash Your Pillowcases Regularly
If you constantly forget to wash your pillowcases, take this as your friendly reminder to throw those things in the laundry, ASAP. "Daily pollutants, dead skin cells, and oils can gather on your beddings," Lee says. "Daily contact with your skin and your dirty pillowcases can irritate your gentle skin, while clogging pores." Gross.
7. Add More Honey To Your Life
Honey is one of nature's natural acne-fighters, so consider adding it to your daily routine. "There are two ways in which honey can help fight acne," Lee says. "First, you can incorporate it into your diet ... as a sweetener in your tea or adding it to your salad dressing. Another option is to apply the honey directly to the affected areas. Leave the mask on for a few minutes. Then rinse it off with warm water." You should see a big difference, and way less inflammation.
8. Put Ice On Your Skin
For two minutes each day, hang out and apply some ice to your pimples. "This will not stop acne, but it will reduce the severity of one's breakouts," Benson says. "Icing helps reduce inflammation so when a pimple does pop up ... it will be smaller and less inflamed."
9. Buy Organic Whenever Possible
Again, your diet can play a major role in whether or not you have clear skin, so do yourself a favor and go for organic foods whenever possible. "Too many of the added growth hormones in our meat and dairy end up in our systems and the body responds with hormone shifts," says Dr. Ben Johnson, MD, founder of the holistic beauty brand Osmosis Skincare. "As a result, candida populations in the body get out of whack, which in turn can contribute to acne."
10. Take Cooler Baths And Showers
While there's no denying the luxury of a hot shower, they really should be avoided as much as possible — especially if you're struggling with acne. "Hot showers/baths cause vasodilation, or enlargement of the capillaries (tiny blood vessels near the surface of your skin)," says licensed dermatologist David Lortscher, MD, founder of Curology. "Heat causes further dilation, making these areas appear even more red than your surrounding skin." Not worth it.
11. Slap On Some Blister Bandages
You know those round blister bandages you put on your feet after wearing uncomfy sandals? Turns out you can apply them to your pimples, too. As Lortscher tells me, applying the bandage overnight (or for up to 48 hours) can help draw out the contents of your pimple and speed healing.
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