Do you know what makes acne worse? If your skin has recently been going through a sudden spell of out-of-the-blue breakouts, you’re not alone. Instinctively, our immediate reaction is to seize hold of any or EVERY zit-busting item in sight, glossing over the repercussions of potentially aggravating a flare-up even more. And I get it, zits that creep up with zero warning can be a total vibe killer, but how you manage a breakout will determine whether your acne acts up or chills out.
Scroll down as I round up ten habits that may be making your acne worse…
#1 Picking At Your Pimples
This is a huge no-no in my books. Think about it, a pimple is an inflamed bump. Pick at it, and the inflammation intensifies. To add to this, you can also end up causing an infection on your skin (add unwashed hands and fingernail dirt into the mix, and that’s a whole skin catastrophe waiting to happen). And the drawbacks don’t end there — picking your pimples can also result in inflated swelling, catalyzing a series of other skin woes like increased redness, residual pigmentation, and scarring, too!
An SOS Solution: Pick-proof protective sheets like hydrocolloid patches make great spot treatments as these seal off zits and also draw out all the gunk from your pimple. I particularly love COSRX’s pimple patches, and Starface makes the cutest sets of Hydro-Star patches that are Instagrammable as hell.
#2 Not Washing Your Face OR Overwashing Your Face
There are three types of face washers in the world:
- The procrastinators who find the process of face cleansing tedious (I see you thinking I don’t)
- The skin nerd proteges who always end off their days with a thorough cleanse and rinsing and,
- The overachievers, some might even say OCD face washers, who are a little too overzealous with the cleansing and and a little too enthusiastic with washing of their skin several times a day.
Addressing the procrastinators first — throughout the day, our skin encounters all kinds of bacteria, environmental stressors, and let’s not forget the layers of makeup we wear too. This can all get trapped in our pores, subsequently causing inflammation that will make your acne a whole lot worse, so pick. up. that. cleanser, I beg! Washing your face every night is non-negotiable.
And to my OCD face washers, over-cleansing can over-strip your skin of its natural oils. This will then confuse your skin to believe that it’s extremely dry, resulting in it overproducing oils, making your skin oilier and more inflamed, which your acne will not want. So please try and break the habit now, and you’ll thank me later.
#3 Not Changing Your Pillowcase Regularly
Not to gross you out or anything, but this is equivalent to not changing your underwear. Our pillowcases absorb so much oil, sweat, bacteria, dead skin cells, and residual makeup daily, so just imagine the amount of dirt your pillowcase can retain when it’s not changed and washed regularly. It literally becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that you’re now transferring to your skin (yikes!).
A tip? Try and invest in at least three or four pillowcases, which you switch up every other day, and every night flip your pillow so that you sleep on a fresh side.
#4 Not Cleaning Your Devices and Face Accessories Daily
Cellphones, glasses, headsets, and hats are magnets for dirt, oils, and grime, so make sure that you clean these weekly to prevent further skin troubles.
#5 Using Toothpaste on Pimples
It’s time to debunk this long-standing beauty myth — yes, toothpaste may temporarily help soothe redness, but it certainly won’t get rid of your acne. Toothpaste can also dry out your skin, worsening acne even more, which is not ideal, so rather go for acne-specific solutions as opposed to miracle quick fixes that, often at times, come along with risks.
#6 Not Moisturizing
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding moisturizers and acne-prone skin. One frequently asked question that I’ve come across online is ‘can you moisturize acne-prone skin?’ The answer is yes, point blank period. How come? Because one can have acne and oily skin, and still be dehydrated.
This is why moisturizing is such a crucial step as it’ll help balance out your complexion and lessen the chances of your skin overproducing oil to compensate for the dryness. Also, moisturizers aren’t all made the same, so if you have oily skin, stay clear of greasier formulations and opt for water-based, gel-like lotions instead. Aveeno’s Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturiser, $18, is a go-to of mine for winter skin. It’s super-hydrating, great for sensitive skin, and most importantly, lightweight.
#7 Using Physical Scrubs
Using a scrub is no different from picking at your pimples — these can spread acne lesions, inflame active pimples even more, cause micro-tears in the skin and worsen scarring. So ditch those scrubs STAT if you have acne. I’m also not the biggest fan of exfoliating brushes because if these aren’t cleaned correctly (and regularly), bacteria can thrive in-between the bristles and then be dispersed all over your skin as you brush away. Rather avoid all forms of physical scrubs if you have acne skin.
#8 Overusing The Same Actives Across Multiple Steps In Your Routine
When it comes to treating acne, less is best. There’s no need to use an anti-acne formula in every single step of your daily skincare, especially compounding the same actives across multiple products. For example, someone may consider exfoliating with salicylic acid, then wash with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser, then use a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment — you’re just overdoing it and your skin is going to freak out. Once again, observe and listen to your skin and also understand what you’re using, why you’re using it, and when to use it in your skincare routine, especially while managing acne.
#9 Doing Your Routine Seconds Before You Snooze
I get it, after a rough work-day, all you want to do is vegge out and chill…But in 2022, we’re making better decisions, right? Right! So instead of stalling your evening skincare routine until the very last minute, do it first thing in the evening once you get home to give your products adequate time to sink in and get working before you slumber.
#10 Delaying A Derm Visit
As much as there are some amazing over-the-counter formulations, they can only do so much, especially when cystic acne is involved. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a dermatologist, but getting guidance from a board-certified derm will not only save you time and effort but money too. There’s nothing more frustrating than countless trials and errors with zero results or, even scarier, the risk of developing more scarring. So I always advise that you nip it in the bud and get the help you need to treat your acne correctly and with the right prescribed medications.
Top 10 Acne Mistakes