We’ve talked about how to heal your acne, but now, let us take you through how to prevent it in the first place. Though there are several things you can, and should, do regularly to prevent acne and breakouts, they all boil down to three basic principles: hygiene, health and products. Throughout your skincare routine, be sure to check the labels. You always want products that are hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and water-based (not oil) when possible. Avoid fragrances and irritants such as citric extracts, menthol and denatured alcohol.
Keep it Clean
- Wash your face. Dermatologists suggest washing your face in the morning and before bed. While you’ve likely always heard to wash your face with hot water to open your pores, exposing your skin to extremes can cause irritation, excess dryness and blood vessel ruptures. Always wash and rinse your face with lukewarm water. If your skin runs dry, take care to select a cleanser and products that have moisturizer. Contrastingly, if you have oily skin, be sure to avoid overly moisturizing products.
- Wash your hands. It’s important to avoid touching your face as much as possible, but when you have to do it—such as when washing your face or applying sunscreen or moisturizer—wash your hands first. Dirty hands can transfer bacteria, causing breakouts, irritation and possibly infection.
- Moisturize. Ensuring your skin is properly hydrated is as important as making sure it’s not oily. Apply moisturizer after every face wash to avoid dryness and irritation. If you have oily skin, choose a gel-based moisturizer, which will provide hydration without overdoing it. If you have dry skin, use a cream-based moisturizer that will, by nature, be heavier and longer-lasting.
- Exfoliate. You may have read blogs from women who talk about exfoliating as part of their daily ritual (we’ve seen our fair share), but over-exfoliating can irritate your skin, cause excess dryness and make your breakouts worse. You should exfoliate, at most, once a week, to remove dead skin and unclog pores.
- Take it off. Removing your makeup at the end of the day is one of the most important steps of your skincare regimen. Sleeping in your makeup can clog your pores and worsen your breakouts. Even sleeping in mascara can cause little infections in your eye area. It’s important to wash your face after removing your makeup to remove all traces of makeup.
- No touchy. As we said earlier, touching your face—with your hands, brushes, sponges or anything that could potentially harbor dirt or bacteria—can cause breakouts and infection. This especially means no popping your pimples, as the dirt from your fingers can get in the open sore and worsen the blemish.
- Sleep clean. While you sleep, oils transfer from your face to your pillowcase, causing dirt, grime and dead skin to spread night after night and cause acne. Try washing your pillowcases once a week. If that’s not enough, wash it more frequently and switch the side of the pillow you use every night. If you don’t have time to wash it frequently, keep several pillowcases you can alternate.
Diet and Exercise
- Protect your skin. You know you need to wear some kind of sunscreen daily. Do you do it? Probably not. But did you know wearing daily SPF not only helps protect against skin cancer, but can also prevent acne? Overexposure to the sun can exacerbate acne, redness and irritation.
- Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Staying adequately hydrated throughout the day helps your body function better, increases your metabolism and clears up you skin. When you don’t get enough water, your body can build up toxins and excrete them through your skin. Drinking at least eight cups of water each day will help your body flush the toxins the way they’re supposed to. Think of it as a daily detox.
- Eat healthy. Eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, zinc, vitamins and minerals helps prevent acne by keeping your skin healthy and functioning properly.
- Avoid potential irritants. While modern scientists put much less stock in the idea that chocolate causes acne than scientists of the last century, certain foods can worsen your acne or cause breakouts. Every person is different, though. Try cutting out different potential risk foods—dairy, sugar, legumes, high-glycemic foods and wheat—from your diet to see what does and doesn’t work for your skin. Cut out each food (one at a time) for two weeks for the best analysis.
- Get the patch. You know smoking and drinking are bad for your health, but they’re also bad for your complexion because the toxins in tobacco and alcohol can act as skin irritants or contribute to the unhealthy toxic excretion that happens when you’re not your healthiest you.
- Lace up. Stress is a huge contributing factor to your acne. Putting on your sneakers and getting outside, up and moving can relieve stress and help acne. Even better, regular exercise will help your heart, overall health and mortality.
- Catch your zzz’s. Just like exercise, proper sleep can help your body function better and reduce stress which, in turn, helps prevent acne. Each hour of sleep lost beyond your normal allotment can increase your stress level by up to 15%. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (9-10 if you’re younger than 18).
Finding the Right Products
- Benzoyl Peroxide is a common ingredient in acne medication because it kills the bacteria that causes acne. Look for products with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide concentration; less won’t be as effective, and more can irritate the skin. It also removes dead skin to reveal brighter, rejuvenated skin.
- Salicylic Acid also helps kill acne-causing bacteria. It causes the skin to shed more rapidly and promotes the growth of new skin. Apply small amounts to affected areas after you wash your face at night.
- Tea Tree Oil is a natural home remedy that acts as an anti-inflammatory, making pimples less noticeable in size and redness. The oil is often concentrated, so be sure to dilute it with water before applying to affected areas with a cotton swab.
- Airbrush Makeup is one of the best and simplest ways to prevent acne. Using airbrush makeup on a daily basis keeps your skin hygienic (no dirty hands or brushes touch your face), moisturizes your face (it’s water-based and so hydrates your skin), covers current blemishes without being heavy and improves skin texture. Check out these other benefits to airbrushing.
What are your tried-and-true methods to preventing acne?