For most teens, clear, under-control skin doesn’t just happen—it’s a way of life. For starters, for anyone with acne, clear skin requires the consistent use of proven acne medicines; additionally there are specific habits—good habits—that you can adopt to help minimize breakouts and keep your skin looking fresh and healthy.
Here are nine ways to get rid of those dreaded breakouts:
Tip #1: Keep it clean. Acne isn’t caused by dirt, but gentle cleansing is still an important part of maintaining a healthy-looking complexion. In general, teens produce an overabundance of oil, so it’s important to counteract it by washing with warm water and a mild cleanser. Your skin does need some oil to maintain a healthy balance, and too much washing can irritate acne-prone skin, so resist the temptation to over wash.
Tip #2: Skip harsh scrubs. It’s okay to exfoliate—which means removing the surface layer of dead skin cells—but just make sure you’re using a gentle exfoliating cleanser. Avoid products made with almond shells, apricot seed fragments, or other harsh “scrubs”—they can irritate and even tear your skin, which can cause inflammation and aggravate your acne.
Tip #3: Avoid products with alcohol. Toners can be great for your skin—they can help balance your skin tone and remove dead skin cells. However, all toners are not made the same, so it’s important to read the ingredients. Avoid products with isopropyl alcohol, which can strip the top layer of your skin and cause your glands to produce more oil. The result? Dry, flaky skin and possibly more blemishes.
Tip #4: Don’t squeeze or pick. It’s so tempting to pick at your skin or pop a whitehead. It’s also risky. Aggravating blemishes with your fingernails, pins or other objects can force bacteria deeper into the pore. This can cause more inflammation and infection, increasing the chances for permanent scarring.
Tip #5: Hands off. In addition to picking and popping pimples, just touching your face, and even just resting your chin in your hands can introduce bacteria. It can be difficult, but try to keep your hands away from your face.
Tip #6: Read labels. Makeup, sunscreen and even hair products can aggravate your acne. Make sure that the products you use are labeled “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic,” which means they won’t clog your pores or worsen breakouts. Remember, sticky hair sprays, gels and pomades can clog your pores.
Tip #7: Be sun smart. Sun exposure risks skin cancer and lots of other bad things, like premature aging and permanent widening of pores. It’s also important to remember that some acne medications make skin more sensitive to sun, so make sure to apply the sunscreen every day and skip the tanning bed. Look for sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
Tip #8: Accessorize wisely. It may sound strange, but your accessories, like a necklace or headband, could be making your acne worse. Heat and friction can cause breakouts, so you may want to steer clear of hats or headbands except occasionally. If you play a sport that requires you to wear a helmet or other equipment that rubs against your skin, lining it with cotton fabric may help keep your skin dry and reduce irritation.
Tip #9: Find a regimen and stick with it. Most cases of mild-to-moderate acne can be treated with over-the-counter products. There’s a wide range of acne treatments available. Find a system with proven acne medicines that’s easy to stick with.