Pimple, zit, blemish,
whitehead, blackhead — whatever you call your acne, there’s one thing we can
all agree on — it’s the absolute worst! It seems like there’s an infinite
supply of products (and a few well-known home treatment myths… toothpaste on
your pimples anyone?) that promise acne treatment and prevention. Whether you
get the occasional stress-induced pimple or struggle with chronic acne, finding
the best way to keep those annoying blemishes off your face isn’t always easy.
To make things a little simpler, we’ve compiled some common acne mistakes and
exactly what you can do to fix them.
washing your face enough

Your face goes through a lot
each day. Just think about how many times you touch your face, all the sweat
that clogs up your pores while you kill it at the gym, and all the makeup you
wear (plus the nights you fall asleep without taking it off — naughty!).
Fayne L. Frey, M.D., a New
York dermatologist who’s been in practice for over 20 years, says
“although there is no consensus on how often a person with healthy skin
should wash their face, research clearly shows that folks with acne benefit
from twice daily face cleansing.” And if you regularly wear makeup,
Lindsey Blondin, lead esthetician of George the Salon in Chicago, recommends
doing two cleanses consecutively. The first cleanse “is to break up
makeup, dirt, and oil on your face,” while the second run through will “cleanse
the skin itself.”
your face too much

Unfortunately, there is such
thing as too much of a good thing. You might think washing your face
religiously will make it just about impossible for your pores to get clogged,
and therefore keep your skin free from breakouts. However, “over-cleansing
the skin can dry out the skin,” said esthetician Lindsey Blondin. This
will cause your skin to produce even more acne-causing oil to make up for the
your face first in the shower

Everyone’s shower routine is a
little different, but typically consist of the same three things: body, face,
and hair. But one thing you might never have thought of is that the same
products that make our hair silky smooth “contain ingredients that can cause
congestion on our face,” says licensed esthetician Jill Jodar. “If
you cleanse in the shower, be sure to do it last, and don’t neglect the
hairline, neck, and around the ears,” suggests Jodar. That way, you’re
getting rid of the leftover shampoo and conditioner, as well as the dirt and
grime on your face.
too many products

Buying a facial cleanser can
be intimidating. There are so many different products that all promise you
clear, radiant skin. Between the cleansers, scrubs, and toners, it’s easy to go
overboard when it comes to washing your face. But when it comes to scoring
zit-free skin, board certified dermatologist and medical director and founder
of California Dermatology Specialists, Dr. Eric Meinhardt, says simple is usually
better. “Routines that are complex with multiple steps are often too harsh
for the skin,” says Dr. Meinhardt, so don’t worry about stocking up on
tons of products or subscribing to a multi-step routine.
products that are too harsh on your skin

Just like over-washing your
face dries out your skin, so can products that are far too strong for your skin
type. According to board-certified dermatologist Margaret Ravits, M.D., people
with sensitive skin should tread lightly when it comes to facial washes.
“Avoid harsh exfoliants and physical scrubs which can irritate the
skin,” advises Ravits. She also suggests avoiding “alcohol-based
products or products that make your face feel tingly and tight.”
not moisturizing

Applying lotion should never
be an afterthought or something you only do when your face feels dry. According
to dermatologist Fayne L. Frey, M.D., FAAD, “studies show that
well-hydrated skin is less likely to break out.” And if you have oily
skin, don’t let moisturizer scare you, says Dr. Frey, claiming “even
individuals with ‘oily skin’ can benefit from daily moisturizing.” Neelam
A. Vashi, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology and director of research in
cosmetic and laser medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine,
suggests oily skin types try out “liquids, gels, and serums” instead
of thicker, creamy lotions.
treating the acne after the fact

There’s more to treating acne
than just washing your face twice a day and applying layers and layers of zit
cream to any blemishes that pop up — and it starts when you’re sleeping.
“If you are acne-prone, it is important to change your pillowcase every
day or every few days as opposed to every week,” advises Debra Jaliman M.D.,
board-certified NYC dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From
A Top New York Dermatologist. And when it comes to choosing pillowcases, stick
with cotton. “Cotton pillowcases are better than other fabrics because
they are natural fabrics and they breathe,” Jaliman says.
Another easy way to prevent
acne-causing bacteria from invading your pores is to make sure your phone (yes,
your phone!) is clean, says dermatologist Margaret Ravits, M.D. “Your
device travels with you all day — from home to the car or subway, to work, to
the gym, to the restaurant for a night out. Even to the bathroom!”
explains Dr. Ravits. “It can get grimy and then you press it against your
face for hours each week and transfer that grime, sweat, and bacteria onto your
skin. An easy way to prevent breakouts? Wipe down your cell phone or mobile
device regularly,” Dr. Ravits suggests.
not eating right

Eating healthy is vital to
keep your organs functioning properly, and don’t forget — your skin is an
organ. “Our skin is a bellwether of our internal health, and so what we
eat can either help or hurt our skin,” explains Maria Marlowe, Integrative
Nutrition Health Coach and the creator of EatBeauty, a 12-week program and meal
plan for reversing acne. Marlowe says for the clearest skin, you generally want
to stay away from sugary, processed foods. “Research shows that eating a
high-glycemic diet, one that spikes your blood sugar, particularly one filled
with sugar and refined foods, can trigger redness and acne breakouts,” she
advises. So the next time you get a donut craving, consider opting for a
smoothie instead. “Anti-inflammatory foods, such as dark leafy greens,
blueberries, and broccoli can help bring down that inflammation and keep our
skin clear and glowing,” says Marlowe.
going to the dermatologist

Pimples are so common that
it’s easy to forget they’re actually a pretty serious skin condition, one that
you should seek treatment for. Dermatologist Fayne L. Frey, M.D., FAAD says,
“acne is a condition involving irritation, inflammation, and infection. It
is potentially scarring.”
Everyone’s skin is different,
so the routine and facial cleanser that works for your best friend probably
won’t work for you. “It is always best to see a dermatologist to determine
a best skin routine as often times prescription products are needed as
well,” says board certified dermatologist and medical director and founder
of California Dermatology Specialists, Dr. Eric Meinhardt.
sticking to a routine

Anyone who’s ever had a pimple
(so basically, everyone) knows what a struggle it is to get rid of them. Your
best bet is to stop acne before it even starts by eating right and making sure
you keep your face clean. If you do happen to have a breakout, don’t stress!
Visit your dermatologist and let them help you figure out a skincare routine
that’s perfect for you. And most importantly, be patient! “Don’t panic if
the cream that your dermatologist gave you doesn’t dissolve the zit in one or
two days,” says dermatologist Margaret Ravits, M.D. Your face will clear
up in time… and don’t forget the moisturizer!
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.