Yes, you can use all the right products and follow the right routines. But if you’re doing any of these things, you may be undoing all your hard work. Some bad skin habits to break if you have acne.
Oh, acne. It’s the bane of our existence, am I right? Trust me, throughout my mid-20s until now, acne and I have had a pretty tumultuous relationship. One second, we’re getting along, everything is chill, and then next, ANGRY SADNESS abounds. Sigh. What’s a person to do?
Well, thankfully, I’ve got my top 10 tips to help break bad skin habits than can lead to acne breakouts.
1. Stop picking your face
Hands down, the MOST important of the bad skin habits if you have acne is to STOP PICKING YOUR FACE. I know, I know it’s hard, but it is literally making things worse. Instead, I’m going to give you a revolutionary concept:
Leave it alone. Apply a pimple patch, and move on with your life. It’ll heal faster, and you won’t have any pesky PIH to deal with afterward. A mood.
2. Wash your face properly
So there was a celebrity on Twitter who recently launched her new skincare line. She showed off her cleanser by washing her face for a grand total of seven seconds, and as she went to dry her face, her towel revealed an entire face full of foundation.
Translation: Her face was not clean. When you don’t clean your face properly, all of the dirt, pollution, and bacteria just sits on your face, waiting for a nice, cozy place to hang out and start creating acne. To avoid this, double cleanse at night and use a gentle foaming cleanser in the morning. The key here is to wash for a minimum of 60 seconds — no shorter. You want to make sure your face is cleaaaaaaaan, OK?!
3. Invest in a BHA
If you have acne, BHA products will change your life. BHAs work to “unglue” the dead skin cells that are underneath the surface of the skin. With continual use, your skin cells won’t really have time to “build up” and create acne. Discovering BHAs is literally one of the pivotal moments of my life. My fave? The good ol’ COSRX BHA Liquid.
5. Use a clean towel every time
If you’re a part of #washclothgang, then please, please, PLEASE make sure you’re using a clean towel every single time you wash your face. Wet towels are a breeding ground for bacteria, so using a clean one every time you wash your face is imperative. I bought a pack of one bajillion face towels from Costco that I specifically use for my face only, and wash them weekly with hot water and bleach.
4. Don’t let your phone touch your face
We all know phones are gross. And yet we still make phone calls and put it up to our faces. WHY?! I rarely talk on the phone, but when I do, I use the headphones that came with my phone. If you’re a super cool person, go for a pair of Bluetooth wireless headphones. (Just don’t be that person that uses a speaker phone in Target. Love yourself!)
6. Monitor your cycle
If you are a person with a period and get hormonal acne, it really helps to track your cycle so you know when you can expect a breakout and deal with it before it happens. I tend to start breaking out about three to five days before my cycle starts, so I make sure to bust out the BHAs and pimple patches in advance.
7. Look for triggers
Once upon a time, I never paid attention to what exactly caused my acne; I just … had it. Now I am smarter and cooler and older, so I know what my skin can tolerate and what it can’t. The next time you’re faced with a breakout, take note of a few things: 1) what you ate, 2) any new products used, and 3) hormones. My triggers? Dairy. My Period. Soda for some weird reason.
8. Change your pillowcase
Similar to your washcloths, your pillowcase is also a hotbed of nasties that can wreak havoc on your skin. Experts say you should be changing your pillowcase about every two days. It’s worth it to have a stack of inexpensive pillowcases to switch out, or you can buy the revolutionary Deja pillowcase, designed especially for those with acne. They are made from 100% cotton and feature an innovative “page-turning” design — simply flip the sheet on the pillowcase each day for one whole week of clean sleeping. What a time to be alive!
9. Wash your hands
Your hands are gross. These are just facts. Any time you even think about touching your face, you should thoroughly wash your hands. I’ve heard of some people who don’t wash their hands before washing their face because they think the cleanser is cleaning their hands at the same time, but NO, NO HONEY. Your hands must be clean before they even touch your skin, OK!
10. Cut down on excess sugar and dairy
I’m not going to be one to police your food choices, but what I do want you to know is that dairy and excess sugar are known to have a negative impact on our skin. I’m not saying you have to cut it out completely, but cutting down significantly on both can really help your skin. And if you’re going to be on the dairy train, make sure it’s the full-fat kind. Studies have shown that dairy has a negative impact on skin, but those who regularly drank skim and low fat milk actually fared worse. So skip the non-fat milk during your next Starbucks run and opt for almond, coconut, or my personal fave, oat milk.
What are your bad skin habits that you've had to stop for acne prevention? Let me know in the comments!
Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.