Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

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Follow These 5 Tips to Defeat Acne

By Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

Nearly everyone gets acne, but acne does not have to get the best of you. If you take care of skin care each and every day, you can get rid of mild to moderate blemishes and pimples and keep them gone for good. It just takes careful attention to what you skin needs. Here five ways you can give your skin what it needs and win you fight against acne.

Moisturized to fight acne
Keeping your skin moisturized will help blemishes and pimples heal faster.


  • Nearly everyone gets acne, and nearly everyone fights acne the wrong way.
  • Clean skin fights acne, but cleansing too hard makes acne worse.
  • When you cleanse your skin, it is more important to get rid of excess oil and cellular debris than it is to kill acne bacteria.
  • Don’t rub your skin. Let the cleanser do the work.
  • You can’t dry out your skin to get rid of acne. In fact, moisture in your skin will help blemishes and pimples heal faster.
  • You can use moisturizer with or without makeup. Put moisturizer on your skin just after you have cleansed it and patted it dry.
  • Never squeeze pimples. Let benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, and vitamin E do the work.
  • Never squeeze blackheads. Soften surrounding skin so they fall out on their own.
  • Use the right concealer for your skin tone. Always take off concealer and any other makeup at night.
  • Fighting acne is complicated, but Exposed Skin Care makes it easier.

1. Skin needs to be clean—but not too clean. Cleanse your skin enough but not too much.

Many teens take on acne by trying to make their skin completely clean without the slightest trace of bacteria. That is always a mistake. In small numbers, the bacteria that live in your pores are helpful. They break down excess sebum into free fatty acids that fight inflammation, and that also keep their numbers in check. It’s only when lots of acne bacteria get stuck in the bottom of a pore underneath dead skin and excess skin oil that they become a problem.

This means that what you really need to be taking off your face is dead skin and excess skin oil. Scrubbing your face with a washcloth only rearranges dead skin on your face. And anything that makes your face feel tingly will just irritate your skin, causing it to soothe itself by making more skin oil.

The way to cleanse your skin is to let a gentle cleanser do the work. Unless you have been mud wrestling or you have taken a part time job as a clown for children’s parties, you should not see dramatic changes in your skin when you cleanse. Just cleanse once a day, putting cleanser on your skin, then rinsing it off, letting the cleanser do the work—unless your skin is covered with dirt or makeup. Then you can rub very gently.

2. Skin needs moisture. Make sure your skin does not dry out.

You can’t dry up your skin to get rid of acne. The moisture in your skin keeps it flexible, and flexible skin allows pores to expel dead skin, excess oil, and excess bacteria.

Don’t try to moisturize from the inside out. Water sloshing in your stomach does not hydrate your skin. Instead, add moisture to your skin. This can be as simple as splashing your face with clean water several times a day if you do not wear makeup. And whether or not you wear makeup, you can use moisturizer.

Apply moisturizer to damp, but not dripping, recently cleansed skin. Use a water-based or even oil-based moisturizer, never a product made with alcohol. Alcohol won’t necessarily kill germs, but it will definitely kill the top layer of cells in your skin, creating debris that can clog pores, and causing irritation that increases the production of skin oils, that can also clog pores. Even if you have naturally oily skin, a little moisturizer around the eyes can stop whiteheads and blackheads.

3. Popping pimples never work. Use disinfectant gels instead.

Popping a pimple may or may not open your skin, but it will definitely force acne bacteria deeper into your skin. Your immune system continues to fight them even when skin has grown over the site of the old pimple, and may create a cyst.

The way to treat a pimple is to kill excess bacteria and then let your skin do the rest of the work of healing. Use the mildest possible benzoyl peroxide product in the morning, starting at 2.5% or less. This kills excess bacteria. Then dab the pimple with a clean cotton swab you have soaked in tea tree oil in the evening. This gets the red out. If you have fair skin, this may be enough, but if you have Asian skin, you also need to use a vitamin E product on the pimple (it’s OK to use at the same time as you use tea tree oil, but not at the same time you use benzoyl peroxide, because the hydrogen peroxide released by benzoyl peroxide will neutralize the vitamin E). Vitamin E prevents the formation of a brown spot when the blemish heals.

4. Popping blackheads does not work, either. Use exfoliants to loose the skin around a blackhead so that it comes out on its own.

Popping blackheads is usually unsuccessful. What most often happens if that the attempt to pop the blackhead punctures the skin around the blackhead, so you are left with a cut or a scratch with a blackhead in the middle, looking even worse that before.

Let blackheads come up on their own. You can apply moisturizer around the blackhead to loose the skin that is holding it tight. You can even lay a clean cloth you have soaked in warm (not steaming!) water to the skin for a few minutes several times a day.

Or you can exfoliate your skin with a mild (8% or less) glycolic acid skin peel or a mild (2% or less) salicylic acid peel to help the process along. Use glycolic acid products if you have dry skin. Use salicylic acid acid products if you have oily skin. It’s important to stick to recommended brands. Some products have the right acid in the wrong concentration, or at the wrong pH. In fact, most products are not put together in a way that works for getting rid of blackheads, but when you find one that works, it usually works overnight.

5. When you can’t get rid of a pimple or blemish right away (and you usually can’t without damaging your skin), cover it up.

There are different kinds of coverups for different kinds of skin. If you have fair skin, you can use a gray or yellow coverup. The budget basement coverup for pimples on fair skin is milk of magnesia, the same thing used to treat constipation. Put a dot on a pimple and it will look less red, although it may be even more noticeable if you have dark brown or black skin.

Otherwise, use yellow concealer followed by flesh-tone foundation if you have fair skin, or brown concealer followed by flesh-tone foundation if you have Asian, brown, or black skin. It is always important to rub the concealer across surrounding skin (don’t rub pimples!) to make the coverup less noticeable. It is also always important to rinse off the concealer completely before going to bed.

To win the fight against acne, you need to get every one of these steps right. That takes products and planning. You can win your fight against acne a lot more easily if you use an acne care system that provides all the products you need at low prices with a money-back guarantee, such as Exposed Skin Care.

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