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How to Prevent Acne
We’ve covered what causes acne and how you can manage it with skincare in dozens of articles over the years. It’s a prevalent topic given how many people suffer with acne and a subject Paula feels strongly about given her own struggle with breakouts.
If you’re one of those so afflicted with this skin-marring problem you’re probably feeling like you’ve tried everything. Here we take a different approach, to bring you the information and research you most likely haven’t heard before that can help keep acne from tormenting you in the first place or at the very least, make it less severe!
An overarching, often missing piece of acne advice is that anything you can do to avoid aggravating your skin is going to help minimize breakouts and their redness. It’s rare advice but vitally important.
Tweaking your skincare and makeup routine to avoid skin-aggravating products and only using non-irritating products is our best advice to you, results of which you’ll see in the mirror in a matter of days.
1. Toss out skincare and makeup products that contain high amounts of SD or denatured alcohol. Alcohol is a common ingredient in cosmetics geared toward acne-prone skin, and while it may seem as though it’s drying out a pimple, it actually triggers more oiliness! Skin's response to the aggravating toll alcohol takes can make breakouts and redness worse.
2. Avoid thick or solid makeup products like stick or creamy compact foundations. The types of ingredients that help keep these products in a solid or semi-solid form (often waxes, or similar ingredients like polyethylene or ethylhexyl palmitate) are iffy for those with breakout-prone skin.
3. Remove makeup before going to bed, no matter how tired you are. Sleeping with makeup on can lead to clogged pores, not to mention cause red, puffy-looking eyes. If you wear heavy makeup, consider pairing your cleanser with a gentle makeup remover and follow up with a soothing toner to ensure last traces of makeup are gone while replenishing skin at the same time.
4. Don’t overdo cleansing your face. Clean skin is a good thing, as we mention above, but over-washing is not—it can actually aggravate acne-prone skin even more. The best method is to wash your skin twice a day (once in the morning, once at night) with a gentle, water-soluble cleanser like our CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser.
(Don’t use bar cleansers – they can leave a film or residue on your skin, which in turn can clog pores and lessen the effectiveness of any anti-acne products you apply after cleansing, plus they are drying which is never a good thing for any skin type.)
5. Stay away from scrubs and loofahs or rough cleansing brushes. The research is abundantly clear that using a salicylic acid exfoliant will give you triple benefit! You can’t scrub a blemish away, and more to the point, scrubs can make acne and redness worse due to their abrasive texture.
Salicylic acid (also known as BHA) offers a much more effective, gentle, and ultimately natural way to exfoliate skin. Even better, BHA can dissolve oil, keeping pores free of debris which means there’s less chance for breakouts to form in the first place! Try our CLEAR Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid so you can see for yourself.
6. Use lighter hair-care products. If your hair drifts over certain areas of the face, keep in mind that traces of the products you use to style your hair will also end up on your skin. That means if you have acne-prone skin, you should avoid thick, waxy styling products, or too much hairspray/mousse as they can clog pores and lead to breakouts along the hairline.
7. Protect yourself from the sun. You might have heard that some amount of unprotected sun exposure can “clear up” breakouts, but in reality it leads to sun damage. This damage weakens skin, which negatively impacts acne. If you’re concerned that the creaminess of an SPF product may cause breakouts, opt for a fluid, lightweight formula like our CLEAR Ultra-Light Daily Fluid SPF 30—it might just change your mind about sun protection (we certainly hope it does). No matter what skin type you have SPF is critical, because when used as directed with other sun protection measures, it decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by sun.
8. Use benzoyl peroxide preventatively as opposed to only applying it only once a breakout has surfaced. Benzoyl peroxide is a powerhouse ingredient for preventing acne eruptions before they happen. Use it consistently in your breakout-prone areas, give it a couple of weeks, and you will see what we mean! We strongly recommend you try starting with our 2.5% concentration, like our CLEAR Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment, and if stubborn acne persists move up to the 5% concentration.
While this might seem like a lot of information to digest all at once, preventing (or at least minimizing) acne will save you from the frustration of dealing with its aftermath later. And if you remember nothing else, remember this: Be gentle on skin, avoid heavy, waxy products, and use salicylic acid + benzoyl peroxide consistently to help prevent breakouts from forming!
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About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!