“Acne is a teen thing.” True, but it doesn’t only happen to teens. Acne pimples and blackheads occur for all kinds of reasons, no matter what your age. Thankfully, there are solutions to help you control these troublesome problems.
What causes acne?
The best way to fight acne is to learn all about it. So, let’s start. Acne is caused by overactive sebaceous glands that secrete sebum—a natural, oily substance that protects your skin. But, too much sebum can clog your pores, causing bacteria to grow and multiply.
Hyperactivity in sebaceous glands is generally caused by hormonal changes that are common during adolescence (the same hormones that bring on puberty, menstruation, etc.). But other factors are also involved, like:
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Excess sweating
- Certain medications
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Cosmetics that are too greasy or oily
What about diet?
You might have heard that foods high in fat or sugar can also cause acne. It’s a myth! In fact, some studies have shown there’s actually a closer causal link between flare-ups of pimples and the consumption of certain refined foods, like cereal, white bread, white rice and cookies. Either way, there’s no scientifically proven link between diet and acne. But it’s always a good idea to avoid junk food and overprocessed or highly sweetened foods.
Here are some other concrete steps you can take…
1) Take the time to choose your makeup carefully.
Having acne-prone skin shouldn’t prevent you from wearing makeup. After all, makeup’s a great way to cover up blemishes! However, to make sure you apply your makeup properly, here are a few best practices:
- Focus on hypo-allergenic, non-greasy and non-comedogenic products, ones that don't cause comedones (pores blocked with bacteria).
- Choose gentle, unscented, alcohol-free products.
- Always remove your makeup! Avoid aggravating acne by cleaning your skin gently before bed with a fragrance-free, paraben-free makeup remover.
- Don’t use too many products. Try to use makeup simply and sparingly.
- Be regular! Once you've found the skin-care products that are right for you, apply them on a regular basis without skipping days.
2) Avoid washing with regular soap.
You know that old bar of soap that’s sitting on the edge of the tub? Get rid of it. Chances are it contains abrasive ingredients that can irritate and dry out your acne-prone skin. Instead, choose products like these:
- Soap-free cleansing gels
- Lotions and micellar waters
- Light, low-fat day creams
- Zinc-based acne creams
- Sebum regulators
3) Cleanse, tone, moisturize!
Adopt this easy, effective, 3-step routine to help fight acne:
- Cleanse. First, rinse your skin with warm water. Then, softly massage your face in small circular movements using a gentle cleanser. Rinse thoroughly. Finish by applying a gentle, purifying scrub once or twice a week to rid your skin of accumulated impurities.
- Tone. To help tighten your pores and avoid bacterial build-up, soak a cotton pad in astringent lotion and then wipe it over your entire face—except around your eyes!
- Moisturize. This last step is vital because your sebaceous glands are less likely to produce excess sebum when your skin is well moisturized. Choose a moisturizing fluid that’s created specifically for acne-prone skin, or use a light, non-greasy cream.
4) Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
While you can’t control all the factors that cause acne, you can help yourself by adopting certain habits on a daily basis. Proper hydration, physical activity, stress management, plenty of sound sleep and a balanced diet can all help improve the health of your skin and limit the intensity of your acne flare-ups.
Above all, avoid touching your face with your hands, especially in acne-prone areas!
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