Are You Making Your Acne Worse With These Bad Skin Habits?
We may think we are doing everything right to clear our skin, but could our good intentions be steering us off the path? Of course none of us would intentionally exacerbate our skin condition. After all, all we really want is clear skin, why would we do anything to make it worse?
Unfortunately, a lot of people simply don't understand how the things they do to their skin can negatively affect it, and so what seems like a good idea, may not be.
For example, Korean researchers gave 136 acne patients a questionnaire to gauge the patients’ understanding of proper skin care and determine their skin care habits. They then published the results in the International Journal of Dermatology. The results are exactly what I would expect based on the questions I get asked.
The questionnaire answers highlight several problems, including:
Excessive face washing.
42.7% of respondents washed their face excessively, with 28.7% washing “vigorously until it feels silky,” and 14% washing “until I cannot detect sebum at all.” Physical irritation of the skin is one of the major factors that keep people stuck in a cycle of acne. Instead of washing vigorously, we should choose gentle, hydrating cleansers and cleanse only briefly.
When asked what they thought caused their acne, the most common answer was stress at 27.2%. Excessive sebum production came in tied for second with diet at 14.7%, and insufficient cleansing was next at 14%. Stress can definitely be an aggravating factor for hormonal acne, but it is nowhere near as causal as underlying factors such as hormonal imbalances, poor diet, etc.
Everyone wants clear skin, and they want it yesterday. Unfortunately we don't have anything that works quite that fast, so we really need to adjust our expectations. Acne treatments can take weeks to start showing results, so be patient, and don't jump from product to product without giving them their due chance to work. It may be a bummer if your product doesn't end up helping your skin, or makes it worse, but what if you stopped using it prematurely, and it could've helped improve your skin had you given it a little more time?
Using too much.
Whether you're using too many different products or you're using too much of a product at once, this is a very common problem. Using too many products, especially irritating ones, is bad for your skin and your acne. Similarly, using too much of a certain product can affect its efficacy - it may not work as well, or it may work too well, and cause excessive dryness or irritation.
Picking and popping.
For some reason that is beyond my comprehension, there is still information circulating that suggests it is ideal to pop pimples to get rid of it faster. This couldn't be farther from the truth; popping and picking at pimples is a great way to reduce swelling (temporarily), while also increasing redness, inflammation, and spreading bacteria to surrounding unaffected pores. A surefire way to guarantee that pimple is sticking around a while longer, and it's bringing some of its friends, too.
Just keep your hands off your face. Period.
Maybe you're not making all of these mistakes, but maybe you're making a few of them. Eliminating these exacerbating factors might help to calm your skin.
Navarete-Solis J, et al. “A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma.” Dermatology Research and Practice. 2011