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The Do’s and Don’t of Acne: Help Your Skin With These Simple Tricks

It’s pretty crazy that even in the year 2019, there is still no cure for acne. There’s not a lotion or pill or facial treatment that is guaranteed to work on everyone, especially with our different skin types. It’s frustrating, but there are some great products out there that will help prevent, reduce, and cover up the appearance of acne, even if you have to do a little experimenting to see what works for you.

Before we get to our favorite products, let’s discuss some of the basic do’s and don’ts of acne. One of the first things you can do is try to reinforce these good habits that can help prevent acne. Basic things like changing your pillowcase regularly and cleaning the germs off your smartphone can help reduce the number of bacteria that will inevitably come in contact with your face, thus decreasing the likelihood of a breakout. You also want to wash your face and follow up with a moisturizer once or twice a day, and just maintain good hygiene and health overall. Regular exercise can promote better skin, but right after you work up a sweat make sure to wash your face and change out of your gym clothes, and as always, stay hydrated.

The don’ts of acne are even more important. As tempting as it may be, try not to pop pimples, which will just irritate your acne and introduce even more bacteria from your fingers, which could lead to scarring. Many of us learned at a young age that acne is caused by excess oil and therefore we need to dry the hell out of our skin to make it go away. While the first part may be true, you don’t want to completely dry out your skin with drying lotions, since your skin will react to the dryness by producing even more oil.

If you’re breaking out in an unusual spot or you’ve tried everything and nothing helps, think about the other products you’re using at home. Laundry detergent, body lotions, and several other products may be the culprit, so try eliminating them one at a time to see if your skin improves.

A good first line of defense in the fight against acne is a cleanser with salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that sloughs away dead skin and helps unclog pores. The Murad Clarifying Cleanser is great because it helps keep your skin clear without drying it out too much. In addition to salicylic acid, it contains green tea extract which will soothe irritated skin.

Another effective ingredient in acne-fighting products is benzoyl peroxide, which kills acne-causing bacteria. It works faster than salicylic acid but it can be a little harsh so it’s good to try it in the form of a spot treatment, like the Glossier Zit Stick. The combination of benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil will work quickly and effectively, so it’s great for emergencies.

This holy grail, cult-favorite, possibly magical product will make a pimple disappear overnight, and that’s not an exaggeration. The patch is essentially a tiny hydrocolloid bandage, which is commonly used for blisters and other types of wounds. Pop one on before bed and you’ll wake up to a clear face since the bandage will absorb all of the gunk and impurities.

You’ve probably heard how important it is to regularly clean your makeup brushes, but don’t forget your sponges! Cleaning old makeup and bacteria off your beauty tools is vital in preventing acne, and the Beauty Blender BlenderCleanser Solid makes it super easy to do. Simply wet your brushes and sponges, swirl them around the solid and gently scrub against the provided silicone pad. It’s super satisfying to watch your makeup wash right off, and even better knowing you’re doing your skin a favor.

Speaking of makeup, it’s understandable to have mixed feelings when it comes to makeup and acne. Most of us want to cover up our blemishes with foundation or concealer, but it’s stressful to think about clogging our pores and irritating our skin even more. Luckily, several brands have created products that will actually prevent breakouts, like the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout concealer. It soothes skin and absorbs oil with ingredients like kaolin clay and zinc oxide, plus it has enough pigment to completely hide any redness.

Sticking with new habits can be hard, but they’re totally worth doing. If you’re following a strict skincare regimen for your acne, keep going. If you are dealing with the occasional breakout or just want better skin, remember our do’s and don’ts. Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone’s skin is different, and it can take time to figure out the best routine for you. Just don’t forget to wash your makeup brushes, which is something we all need to be better about.

by Clare Saxton
cover photo Yara Shahidi for Seventeen Magazine