Ten Tips for Dealing with Face Acne
Nearly every teen has to deal with face acne at some time or another1. How you treat acne on your face determines how long it will be a problem. But gentler methods get rid of acne faster than drastic methods2. Here are ten tips every teen needs for dealing with acne on the face.
- Gentler methods of treating face acne usually get better results than drastic methods, and cost a lot less, too3.
- You can’t wash your acne away, but cleansing your skin at least once but no more than twice a day can help prevent acne.
- It’s never a good idea to try to dry out your skin to treat acne.
- Blue and red light, on the other hand, kill acne bacteria and reduce excess sebum production4.
- The products you use for treating acne on the rest of your body may be too strong for treating face acne.
- Keeping hair out of your face will reduce acne on your nose and forehead.
- Anytime you are treating your whole face with an acne product, make sure you spread it over your jawline, too.
- Learn how to conceal acne without having to conceal the concealer. Use foundation makeup in the right shade to match your skin tones without starting with concealer.
- Keep your skin moisturized to keep pores open5.
- Don’t confuse price with quality. The best acne products are often very affordable.
1. You can’t rub, scrub, or wash your acne away, so don’t try.
By the time you can see a zit, the excess oil causing the problem is already locked inside a pore. Rubbing, scrubbing, or washing hard won’t get the oil out of your skin. It will just injure the surrounding skin and make the pimple even more inflamed and more noticeable.
2. Cleansing your skin once or at most twice a day, however, can help prevent breakouts.
The best time to treat acne is before it starts. You can do this by removing excess oil off your skin so it does not ever get a chance to clog your pores. The key is to get excess oil off your skin without putting harmful on your skin in its place6. Always use a mild cleanser and let it do the work. Unless you are removing obvious dirt, grime, or makeup, don’t rub your skin when you wash it.
3. Never try to dry out your skin to get rid of acne.
Getting lots of sun to dry out your skin used to be the standard advice for getting rid of acne. It turns out that it is not drying out your skin that makes the difference when you get sun. It’s the blue and red rays of sunlight that kill acne bacteria and reduce oil production in your pores4.
A little sunshine on unprotected skin, up to about 20 minutes a day, helps your skin make vitamin D for the rest of your body7. The rest of the time, use sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn and sun damage. And use a special blue light or combination blue and red light lamp to give your skin gentle light treatment that gets rid of blemishes without drying out your skin.
4. Products for treating face acne need to be gentler than products for treating acne on the rest of your body.
Benzoyl peroxide is great for getting rid of acne on your back8. If you have single pimples on your back, it can strip off the top layer of the pimple and attack the bacteria inside. The skin on your back and can stand up to benzoyl peroxide treatment.
Use that same strength of benzoyl peroxide on your face and you may have an entirely different experience. Benzoyl peroxide on your face, except in the mildest (2.5% or lower) non-prescription strengths, often causes intolerable itching, burning, peeling, and redness on the face. Other treatments may be needed for face acne.
5. Keep your hair out of your face to prevent forehead acne.
Acne breaking out just over your eyebrows and on your nose is often due to oils from hair falling over the face. Acne at the hair line at the top of the forehead is often due to hair care products clogging pores. To prevent blemishes on your nose and forehead, keep your hair out of your face and rinse excess hair care products out of your hair with your head tilted backwards.
6. Learn how to conceal acne without having to conceal the concealer.
Sometimes you can’t get acne treated fast enough before a big date, graduation, or some occasion where you will be in photos. You have to cover it up. The traditional advice is to use green concealer to cancel out the redness of a pimple, and then to use foundation makeup to cover up the green concealer. That works out OK until your foundation wears off and people start asking you why you have green spots on your face.
Cover up pimples with a single layer of gold or brown foundation, complementing your skin tones. If you have fair, brown, or black skin, use gold foundation. If you have Asian skin tones, use brown concealer. You may have to experiment to find the right shade for your skin. Covering up pimples with as few layers of cosmetics as possible helps pimples clear up, and reduces the risk of makeup malfunctions as the day goes on.
7. When you use a lotion on your face, make sure you cover the jawline.
Blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples on the jawline are often invisible to you but extra-visible to other people. Prevent them by making sure you that any skin care treatment you use on your whole face is applied over your jawline, too.
8. Use stronger skin care products as spot treatments rather than all over your face.
If you have a problem with cysts or nodules, you might want to treat them with a product known as tretinoin topical, the over the counter version of a medication known as Retin-A. If you put tretinoin topical all over your face, you will open up pores in problem places, but you may also make the rest of your face unnecessarily red. The best way to use product that has potential side effects, or that costs a lot, is just on the places you need it the most, not all over your face. Make sure your hands are clean when you apply spot treatments to pimples, and make sure you wash your hands before you touch your face again.
9. Keep your skin moisturized.
Moisture in your skin (which is not the same thing as oil dripping out of your pores) keeps it flexible and helps pores stay open. Not every one needs moisturizer all the time, but even oily skin can dry out. Using a little moisturizer when you need it helps prevent whiteheads and blackheads9, especially on the lower forehead and at the sides of the face.
10. Don’t mistake price for quality.
One of the troublesome truths of the cosmetics industry is that the highest-priced products almost never work as well as their less expensive counterparts. Any ingredient added to a product just to impress you is also likely to irritate your skin—and keep you wanting more of the product. The best way to buy your acne products is to get all your skin care products from a single source you can trust, such as Exposed Skin Care.
- James WD. Clinical practice. Acne. N Engl J Med. 2005;352(14):1463-1472. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp033487
- Kraft J, Freiman A. Management of acne. CMAJ. 2011;183(7):E430-5. doi:10.1503/cmaj.090374
- WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/acne-treatment-mistakes#1. Published 2019.
- Tsoukas M, Adya K, Inamadar A, Pei S. Light-based therapies in acne treatment. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2015;6(3):145. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.156379
- Chularojanamontri L, Tuchinda P, Kulthanan K, Pongparit K. Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(5):36-44. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24847408.
- Draelos Z. The effect of a daily facial cleanser for normal to oily skin on the skin barrier of subjects with acne. Cutis. 2006;Jul;78(1 S.
- Nair R, Maseeh A. Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012;3(2):118-126. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.95506
- Bikowski J. A review of the safety and efficacy of benzoyl peroxide (5.3%) emollient foam in the management of truncal acne vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(11):26-29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21103313.
- Lynde CW, Andriessen A, Barankin B, et al. Moisturizers and Ceramide-containing Moisturizers May Offer Concomitant Therapy with Benefits. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(3):18-26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24688622.
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