Seven Ways to Fight Acne Blemishes
Keeping acne-prone skin free of blemishes requires daily effort, but it does not have to cost a fortune or take over your life. Here are seven simple ways to fight acne blemishes that nearly always work.
- Fighting acne blemishes requires daily effort1 but does not have to cost a fortune.
- Cleanse your skin, but not more than twice a day. Cleansing your skin keeps blemishes from coming back. It does not get rid of them.
- Avoid fake foods. Margarine and the cooking oils used to fry crispy snack foods make blemishes worse.
- Recognizes that blemishes in different parts of your face have different causes and different treatments.
- Moisturizer can be very useful in preventing and treating whiteheads and blackheads, even if you have oily skin, especially on the sides of your face.
- Don’t be afraid of benzoyl peroxide. It’s an effective bacteria-fighter, and it causes less irritation to the skin than some natural, botanical ingredients.
- Take a systematic approach to fighting blemishes with Exposed Skin Care.
1. Use cleansers to maintain clear skin, not to treat acne.
Everyone who has acne needs to use a skin cleanser every day2, but so do people who don’t have acne. The purpose of cleansing your skin is not to get rid of blemishes. You can’t rub, scrub, or wash your blemishes away. The purpose of cleansing is to keep dead skin from building up in pores and forming clumps that trap acne bacteria and oil beneath them.
This means that it is usually best not to use any kind of cleanser more than twice a day. If your skin feels dry, itchy, scratchy, or tingly after you cleanse, you are cleansing too often.
The old advice to acne sufferers used to be to avoid greasy foods and chocolate. It was sort of right. Certain kinds of cooking oil increase the production of inflammatory hormones in the skin. The worst are soybean oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil used to make crispy, crunchy packaged snacks. These kinds of “grease,” as well as margarine, can make your skin break out.
Some people are very sensitive to chocolate4, and some not at all. It is a chemical called theobromine in chocolate that is the culprit, not the fat. Milk chocolate is less likely to make skin break out than dark chocolate, and most people have a tolerance for chocolate until one more piece makes them break out. Eating just 2 oz/56 grams of dark chocolate every week is usually safe.
3. Different parts of your face have different triggers for blemishes.
Blackheads and whiteheads at the hair line could be triggered by oily residue after you use shampoo, volumizer, or hair conditioner. Be sure to rinse from front to back and try to keep hair off your forehead.
Small red pimples on your nose and cheeks that pop out when the temperature changes may not be due to clogged pores at all. They could be rosacea. If you have rosacea, you don’t need a different skin cleanser. You need to avoid changes in temperature, as well as perfumes and cleansers5 that contain skin-irritant ingredients. It may also help to use cosmetics that contain an ingredient known as azelaic acid.
Even if you have oily skin, blackheads popping out of the side of your face and along the jawline usually signal dry skin. Use a few drops of moisturizer6 after you use your cleanser. It will help keep pores open.
Up to 80% of cases of chin acne are really a reaction to the sudsing agent used in toothpaste and mouthwash, SLS, also known as sodium lauryl sulfate7. Simply switching to brands of toothpaste and mouthwash that do not contain SLS can help fight chin blemishes.
4. When in doubt, moisturize.
A lot people believe that because whiteheads and blackheads are hardened skin oils, it’s a good idea to dry out the skin. Actually, it’s not. Drying out the skin just creates the tiny flakes of dried skin that keep pores clogged. If you don’t have accumulations of dead skin in pores, then oily skin won’t necessarily form blemishes. You may have a problem with shiny skin, but that is something you can take care of with powder, if desired.
Nearly everyone needs moisturizer at one time or another8. The important thing to remember is never to use a “moisturizer” that contains alcohol. Alcohol-based “moisturizers” actually dry out your skin, forcing it to repair itself by producing more oil. The additional oil in the skin is not obvious until about 3 days after you use alcohol-based products on the skin, so the cause and effect relationship may not be obvious. It’s better to use an “oil in water” moisturizer that contains some oil to dissolve the oil in your pores plus water to keep the skin soft and supple. Soft skin lets pores drain.
5. Use the right kind of light to prevent blemishes from coming back.
Sunlight contains UV rays that can damage the skin. Acne treatment lamps, however, use visible blue light to kill acne bacteria and visible red light to help shrink the sebaceous glands to release oil into pores. A blue and red light lamp9 requires about a US $100 to $200 initial outlay, but it can pay for itself in just a few months as it helps clear up pimples. Be careful to use the lamp as directed. More is not better. Your objective is not to heat or dry out the skin, just to kill bacteria (which you can’t feel) and to shrink oil-producing glands (for which you won’t notice any difference for several days to several weeks).
6. The right “chemical” treatment may be more effective than the wrong “natural” treatment for clearing up blemishes.
Benzoyl peroxide kills acne bacteria10. When the bacteria die, the immune system no longer needs to keep trying to get rid of them by generating inflammation, and pimples have a chance to heal. Benzoyl peroxide is best used as a spot treatment for pimples in 10% strength, but if you have 20 or more pimples on your face you may get better results by treating your entire face with a milder, 2.5% to 5%, benzoyl peroxide product.
Looking for something to get the red out of your skin and shrink pimples while they are healing? Use a product that contains both benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil such as Serious Skin Care Clearz-It Acne Medication. The tea tree oil relieves inflammation and also kills acne bacteria while the benzoyl peroxide exfoliates the skin, peeling away invisible clumps of dead skin that keep pores from draining.
The secret to success with benzoyl peroxide is to make sure it does not dry out your skin. Use benzoyl peroxide at night, and then make sure you use a moisturizer during the day. Moisturizer can make the difference between getting rid of about 2/3 of your pimples and getting rid of all of them.
7. Take a systematic approach to skin care.
You can try lots of cleansers and find one you like, try lots of moisturizers and find one you like, and try lots of skin treatment serums and find one you like. Or you can spend a lot less time and money and get all of your products with a one-year money-back guarantee from Exposed Skin Care.
- Kraft J, Freiman A. Management of acne. 2011 Apr 19;183(7):E430-5.
- Stringer T, Nagler A, Orlow SJ, Oza VS. Clinical evidence for washing and cleansers in acne vulgaris: a systematic review. J Dermatolog Treat. 2018 Nov;29(7):688-693.
- Kucharska A, Szmurło A, Sińska B. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016 Apr;33(2):81-6.
- Chalyk N, Klochkov V, Sommereux L, Bandaletova T, Kyle N, Petyaev I. Continuous Dark Chocolate Consumption Affects Human Facial Skin Surface by Stimulating Corneocyte Desquamation and Promoting Bacterial Colonization. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018 Sep;11(9):37-41.
- Del Rosso JQ. Adjunctive skin care in the management of rosacea: cleansers, moisturizers, and photoprotectants. Cutis. 2005 Mar;75(3 Suppl):17-21; discussion 33-6.
- Chularojanamontri L, Tuchinda P, Kulthanan K, Pongparit K. Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 May;7(5):36-44.
- Branco N1, Lee I, Zhai H, Maibach HI. Long-term repetitive sodium lauryl sulfate-induced irritation of the skin: an in vivo study. Contact Dermatitis. 2005 Nov;53(5):278-84.
- Del Rosso JQ. The role of skin care as an integral component in the management of acne vulgaris: part 1: the importance of cleanser and moisturizer ingredients, design, and product selection. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2013 Dec;6(12):19-27.
- Nestor MS, Swenson N, Macri A, Manway M, Paparone P. Efficacy and Tolerability of a Combined 445nm and 630nm Over-the-counter Light Therapy Mask with and without Topical Salicylic Acid versus Topical Benzoyl Peroxide for the Treatment of Mild-to-moderate Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016 Mar;9(3):25-35.
- Matin T, Goodman MB. Benzoyl Peroxide. [Updated 2019 Jan 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
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