Skincare Mistakes That Worsen Acne

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Washing your face is part of your daily routine. It’s something simple you do to keep your skin looking and feeling clean. What you may not realize, however, is that you might be doing it wrong.

In fact, you could be making any number of skincare mistakes and they could be making your acne worse. From scrubbing too hard to choosing the wrong cleanser, seemingly simple mistakes you make as part of your skincare routine might actually contribute to breakouts and acne.

Let’s take a closer look at some common skincare mistakes that worsen acne.

Using Harsh or Abrasive Products on Acne-Prone Skin

If your skin is prone to acne, you might be using an exfoliating cleanser in an attempt to unclog your pores and reduce acne breakouts. What you may not realize, however, is that using harsh and abrasive products on acne-prone skin can actually make matters worse.

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells—cells that can clog your pores and contribute to acne breakouts. You have to be careful about choosing an exfoliant, however, because if you make the wrong choice, you could end up irritating or damaging your skin, ultimately making the problem worse.

Using Too Much or Too Little Acne Medication

Over-the-counter acne medications are great for spot-treating problem areas and for reducing breakouts. Like any skincare product, however, there is a right and a wrong way to use them.

One of the most common mistakes people make with acne medication is only using it on existing pimples. Your skin contains thousands of pores, any one of which can become clogged to produce your next pimple. 

If you’re only applying acne medication to existing pimples you might help those blemishes heal faster, but you won’t be preventing one from popping up right next to it.

While some women don’t use enough acne medication, others use too much. If you are prone to breakouts, you might think that slathering on an anti-acne product several times a day will help ward off breakouts while, in fact, the opposite might be true.

Over-the-counter acne medications contain blemish-busting ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sulfur. While these ingredients help unclog pores to reduce the risk for breakouts, they can also dry your skin and contribute to irritation. 

If you overuse these products, you could end up with redness and peeling in addition to more frequent breakouts.

Not Wearing Sunscreen or Applying it Poorly

Wearing sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin from UV damage and it helps reduce the risk of skin cancer as well. What many women do not realize is that it may also affect the frequency or severity of your acne breakouts.

While sun exposure is important for producing Vitamin D, too much of it can dry out your skin. When your skin becomes too dry, it may overcompensate by ramping up oil production. 

The result is oily, greasy skin that leads to clogged pores and frequent breakouts.

Another common mistake women make with sunscreen is wearing too much or not applying it properly. Wearing a heavy layer of sunscreen can clog your pores and prevent them from breathing properly, increasing the risk for breakouts. You should also know that certain ingredients in sunscreen can irritate or dry out your skin.

Squeezing or Picking at Your Pimples

As satisfying as it may be to pop that whitehead, doing so could actually spread the bacteria responsible for the pimple and lead to further breakouts. 

By squeezing a pimple that isn’t ready to pop, you might end up forcing the oil and bacteria deeper into your skin, leading to an even bigger blemish. You’ll also be introducing bacteria and dirt from your hands to the area which can increase inflammation.

Another problem with popping pimples is that you might interfere with your body’s natural healing process. Acne is the body’s response to clogged pores and bacteria. 

The resulting bumps on your skin are evidence that your body is trying to solve the problem. If you pick at the area, you might interfere with the healing process and introduce new bacteria to make matters worse.

Finally, picking at pimples can damage your skin and lead to scarring. When you pop a pimple, you’re forcing the oil, bacteria and other debris out of the pore and, in doing so, you tear the top layer of skin. The result is an open wound that could scar as it heals.

Only Using Makeup Wipes to Clean Your Face

Makeup wipes are great. They come in convenient multi-packs and they make quick work of even the most stubborn makeup. The problem is that many women use them to remove makeup but fail to follow it up with a face wash.

First and foremost, they don’t actually clean the skin. For the most part, all they really do is smear around the dirt, oil, dead skin and makeup that is already on your face and adds to it whatever chemicals are infused in the wipes themselves.

Second, the act of scrubbing your face with makeup wipes can cause low-grade inflammation. Over time, that inflammation can lead to problems with uneven skin tone, early aging and more frequent breakouts. Some makeup wipes can also leave oil on your skin which may clog your pores.


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