You may think you’re doing all the right things when it comes to treating your blemish-prone skin, but you could be committing a few simple mistakes that are making your acne even worse. Consult this list of seven blunders that have a good chance of boosting your breakouts rather than stopping them in their tracks.
1. You’re using the wrong makeup and skin care products
One of the most common culprits that can make acne worse is simply the wrong makeup and skin care products. You may think you’re doing all the right things when it comes to treating your breakouts with alcohol-based products, harsh cleaners, and alkaline bar soaps. You might even be using that go-to household remedy, toothpaste, on your pimples. But they can all make acne worse, dermatologist Diane S. Berson tells WebMD.
Instead, swap out those no-no’s for noncomedogenic, oil-free, or acne-prone skin specific makeup and skin care products, all of which have far less chance of containing ingredients that will clog pores and lead to breakouts. It’s likely the cleansers may contain salicylic acid, which is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that will also help minimize irritation.
2. You’re using too many products
It can be tempting to immediately pile on the products in an effort to zap those zits away — fast. Or, maybe you’re just not seeing results overnight with one product you’re using, so you try new treatments on top of it. No matter what the reason, going nuts with the skin care treatments might be sabotaging your complexion. In the same WebMD story, Barbara R. Reed, M.D. and dermatology professor at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, says layering products on top of each other or in quick succession can cause irritation and further problems. Skin reacts slowly to treatment and often gets worse before it gets better, so stay patient and don’t overcompensate with an overload of product.
3. You’re not moisturizing because your skin is oily
Even if you have oily skin, moisturizer should still be a part of your skin care routine. “You can have oily, acne-prone skin but still lack hydration,” Joshua Zeichner, M.D. and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, told Glamour. In fact, skipping moisturizer only causes skin to overcompensate with more oil, which potentially means more breakouts. Just make sure to get an oil-free moisturizer to hydrate skin. The moisturizer will also help reduce the risk of irritation if you’re using a prescription or over-the-counter acne treatment.
4. You’re exfoliating too often
If you’re a bit overzealous on your exfoliation efforts, it’s time to reduce your use of them to only two to three times a week — max. Over-scrubbing your face with exfoliating products can increase redness, inflammation, and irritation. Plus, dermatologist Jessica Weiser told Teen Vogue, “Exfoliating a pimple can pull away healthy skin cells and create an open wound and higher risk for scarring.”
5. You’re not washing your face correctly
If you’re quickly flinging water on your face to wash it rather than taking the time to allow your salicylic-acid cleanser to maintain contact with your face, your cleansing routine is probably not helping your acne and could actually be making it worse. Make sure you take at least 20 to 30 seconds to gently massage the cleanser into your face before rinsing off.
Clean skin is not only more balanced (and less prone to continuous breakouts), it also is more receptive to the acne treatment regimen you might be using, Dr. Linda Miles, co-founder and formulator for natural skin care brand Derma E, told Birchbox.
6. You’re only using acne products when you have a breakout
Prevention is the key when it comes to acne. But if you’re only treating breakouts rather than stopping them before they start, you’re missing out on this crucial step. The success of that acne-fighting medication and skin care regimen depends on regular, daily use. “Instead of treating pimples as they appear, it’s more effective to use a gentle product that contains salicylic acid every day,” NYC dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D. told Glamour. “This helps prevent breakouts on a regular basis.”
7. You’re wearing glasses or sunglasses all the time
For acne-prone skin, glasses can provoke pimples. The frames can make it easier for oil, dead skin, and dirt to remain on the skin, thus clogging the pores, Dr. Ava Shamban, board-certified dermatologist and author of Heal Your Skin, told Prevention. And, if you don’t frequently wash your frames, the problem is only compounded.
Make sure to keep wipes nearby to clean your frames and skin throughout the day — especially during the summer months when you’re switching between glasses and sunglasses.