Blemishes. Breakouts. Pimples. Zits. Whatever you call these eruptions that almost everyone faces at some point in their lives, acne is an unsightly menace. This distressing and annoying persistent condition occurs when oil and dead skin cells plug up your hair follicles. It appears on your face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders most commonly. Luckily, a variety of acne treatments can improve your complexion. So can discovering the research-based truths about these five common misconceptions.
1. Haven’t I Outgrown Pimples as an Adult?
Studies show that adult acne is more common in women than men. In a survey of over 1000 adults, 50 percent of females 20-29 years old, 35 percent of those 30-39, and 26 percent of women 40-49 reported having breakouts. Estrogen increases with your first period as a teenager and at perimenopause as a middle-aged adult, according to Dr. Mona Gohara, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. This hormone increases oil production, causing bacterial inflammation and pimples.
2. Aren’t Blackheads Just Dirt in My Pores?
“Blackheads have nothing to do with dirt,” said Dr. Marguerite Germain, M.D., a Charleston, S.C., dermatologist. Skin cell turnover is a natural process that pushes oil and skin debris out of your pores, keeping them clean. When that doesn’t happen fast enough, your pores collect a backlog of oil, debris, and protein. Dermatologists recommend retinoid treatment like Tretinoin Cream to help reduce blackheads. “The vitamin A derivative increases the turnover of skin cells, keeping pores clear,” Dr. Germain said.
3. Shouldn’t I Wash My Face More Often?
Dr. Gohara cautions that over-washing can intensify acne. Stripping your skin of its natural oils causes dehydration and increases oil production, which can clog pores and worsen breakouts. Scrubbing too hard with harsh soaps or chemicals can distress the skin and aggravate pimples. In the morning, Dr. Gohara suggests using a benzoyl peroxide wash, salicylic acid toner, and lightweight moisturizer. At night, use a gentle cleanser without exfoliating beads and sodium lauryl sulfate, which can be irritating. End with retinol cream.
4. Isn’t a Stronger Acne Treatment Better?
The best acne medication accomplishes two goals. Salicylic acid unclogs pores. Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria. But don’t go overboard, thinking stronger means faster recovery. A review found no difference between 2.5- and 10-percent benzoyl peroxide preparations — except that stronger products may be more irritating. Your benzoyl peroxide acne treatment needs to be strong enough to cause mild peeling inside your pores without making your skin burn or sting.
5. Doesn’t Makeup Make Zits Worse?
Some cosmetics can clog your pores and lead to pimples, but the right makeup can improve acne. Dr. Gohara suggests powder-based mineral foundations with ingredients like silica, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. They absorb oils that could clog your pores otherwise. If you prefer a liquid foundation, make sure it’s non-comedogenic. That means the cosmetics company’s standards haven’t found the product to promote breakouts. Selecting acne-fighting makeup to concealing blemishes can improve your complexion and confidence.