We all want to have glow-y, clear, zit-free skin,but you may not realize that some seemingly harmless habits could actually be sabotaging your skin and making you break out. Here are the most common skincare mistakes when caring for acne-prone skin — and what to do instead.
1.The mistake: Roughly cleansing acne-prone skin.
Using harsh, abrasive products or tools (such as a loofah) can actually cause you to breakout more! According to Dr. Warren Shapiro, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Neutrogena, overscrubbing and using harsh scrubs can irritate your skin and make it harder for acne to clear and heal.
The solution: Stay away from abrasive cleansers and scrubbing tools. Use a gentle exfoliator a few times a week, and if you’re afraid of being too rough with your hands, try an exfoliating brush, which works to clean pores without irritating your skin.
2.The mistake: Dabbing acne medication only on pimples.
Acne medications not only speed the healing of existing pimples, explains Sergio Nacht, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Science and Technology for Advanced Polymer Systems, they also help prevent new pimples.
The solution: To keep skin in the clear, apply a thin layer of acne medication (one containing benzoyl peroxide will help kill the bacteria) over the entire area where pimples tend to occur.
3. The mistake: Squeezing pimples.
Picking at pimples can spread infection, making skin worse–not better. And, according to Dr. Nacht, the result can be scarring.
The solution: Use an acne medication, such as a spot treatment, and don’t touch!
4.The mistake: Not rinsing well enough when washing your face.
When you rinse, you take away suds along with dirt and oil. “If you don’t completely rinse the soap away,” says Shulman, “it can be a potential irritant.”
The solution: Be sure to rinse your skin thoroughly after sudsing. About 30 seconds should be enough.
5.The mistake: Skipping sunscreen.
“Even if the weather is cloudy, the UV rays get through, and every exposure adds up,” says Darrell Doughty, Head of Investigative Skin Care for the Oil of Olay Skin Care Center. This can result in changes in your skin color and texture, wrinkles and fine lines appearing earlier and an increased possibility of developing skin cancer. A sunburn can dry out pimples temporarily, but it can end up making you break out even more, because your skin reacts to the drying effect of the sun by producing even more oil.
The solution: For optimum protection apply a facial moisturizer that contains sunscreen of SPF 15 or more every day. Look for one that says non-comedogenic on the bottle to ensure it doesn’t have pimple-causing ingredients.
6. The mistake: Inconsistent use of acne medications.
Acne medication isn’t as effective if you only apply it two or three times a week, offers Dr. Nacht. Alternately, trying to compensate by over-applying acne medication can irritate and damage the skin, resulting in redness and overdrying. Plus, pimples won’t heal any faster: Skin can only absorb or utilize a certain amount of the product’s active ingredients, regardless of how many times you apply it.
The solution: Since acne medication works for six to 12 hours, it should be applied consistently two or three times a day. Remember, you can’t cure acne– just control it.
7.The mistake: Not using moisturizer if your skin is oily.
If your skin is shiny or has an oily feel, it doesn’t mean you should avoid moisturizing. After washing, your skin’s relatively dry as a result of the cleansing process, explains Doughty. All cleansers, even water, take out some level of moisture. Using a moisturizer will replace this, protect your skin and prep it for makeup.
The solution: Go with a moisturizer that won’t add oil or a greasy feel.
8. The mistake: Smoking.
You already know that smoking is bad for you, but here’s another reason never to light up. “Nicotine constricts blood vessels, including those which feed your skin,” states Dr. Nacht. The complexion consequence? Your skin becomes deprived because it doesn’t receive proper nourishment from your blood.
The solution: Don’t smoke…ever. For clear skin as well as a dizzying host of other reasons!
9. The mistake: Drying out the skin on your body.
Being in water that’s too hot or staying in the bath or shower for too long won’t hydrate your skin and can cause skin to lose vital ingredients that help to hold moisture in the skin, explains Dr. Shapiro.
The solution: “Your bath or shower water should be warm enough to be comfortable, but not overly hot,” says Dr. Shapiro. “All you need is a few minutes in the shower. In the bath, you don’t want to stay in the water long enough to get that ‘prune’ effect.” Set a time limit–around 15 minutes–max. Also, you should use a gentle cleanser, such as Neutrogena Rainbath Refreshing Shower and Body Gel.
10. The mistake: Drying out your skin in an attempt to control acne and oil.
Using harsh soap can actually strip sebum from your skin, explains Dr. Brett Shulman, Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Sebum helps give skin its flexibility and pliability. Without this the skin can ‘crack’ and you can lose the skin’s barrier function. This increases the risk of irritation and infection.”
The solution: Always use a mild cleanser or cleansing bar followed by a not-too-drying acne solution containing a low percentage of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.