What Causes Teen Acne? The Truth about 4 Major Myths

teen acne myths

These days, there is certainly no shortage of information on teen acne. However, not all of it is legit. And misinformation about what really triggers breakouts and blemishes—and, what you should do to heal and prevent breakouts—can be one of the biggest obstacles between you and a clear, healthy-looking complexion. Here, we clear the air on 4 of the biggest teen acne myths out there.

ACNE MYTH #1: ACNE IS CAUSED BY DIRT

THE VERDICT: FALSE

Getting clear skin is not a matter of obsessively washing your face. It’s important to remember that acne is caused by a combination of oil, bacteria, and debris, like dirt and dead skin cells. So, while cleansing twice daily certainly is a vital element in any successful acne treatment regimen, it will do little good to get carried away with it.

ACNE MYTH #2: TO HAVE CLEAR SKIN, STAY AWAY FROM FOODS THAT CAUSE ACNE

THE VERDICT: FALSE

Nope! Once again, acne is caused by a combination of oil, a buildup of dead skin cells and other debris within the pore/hair follicle, and bacteria—not French fries or chocolate. However, a small percentage of people might experience acne flare-ups that are triggered by reactions to certain foods. And, even if you’re not susceptible to any such reactions, your body as a whole (and, perhaps, your skin) will look and feel better with a healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in whole grains, lean proteins and fresh produce. It’s fine to indulge every once in a while; just use common sense! And, if you believe your acne is food related, a food diary can help you trace patterns and determine triggers.

ACNE MYTH #3: ACNE IS CAUSED BY MAKEUP

THE VERDICT: TRUE (SOMETIMES)

It’s true—some makeup includes ingredients that are comedogenic—meaning they’re known to clog pores—but these days, it’s easy to find products designed for acne-prone skin. Simply look for the terms “oil free,” “non-comedogenic,” and “non-acnegeic” on labels when you shop. Another thing? It’s important to remember that excessive sweating and humid conditions can cause even the right kinds of products to clog pores and cause acne. To do what you can to prevent this, remove your makeup before your work out, and wash with a medicated cleanser after. It’s also crucial to remove your makeup completely—every night, no matter what—before going to bed.

ACNE MYTH #4: STRESS CAUSES ACNE

THE VERDICT: TRUE

Teens in particular may notice more breakouts before stressful life events, like midterms and big dates. The reason? When the body encounters stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol, which can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, in turn leading to clogged pores and blemishes. Some teens are more affected by stress acne than others, but everyone can benefit from finding ways to reduce and manage stress. Exercise and meditation are great ways to release tension, and adhering to a solid acne treatment regimen can also help keep your skin under control, even when the pressure is on.