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10 Big Acne Mistakes You May Not Know You’re Making

When it comes to acne mistakes, some are more obvious than others. Below, ten mistakes that could make the difference between your next pimple and clear skin.

Everyone gets acne. It’s a natural part of life. But that doesn’t mean it’s not pesky and annoying, and that we don’t all try to do everything in our power to get rid of it as fast as possible. So, we’re outlining some things that you definitely shouldn’t be doing if you want clear, glowy skin that lasts:

1. Picking at or touching your pimples

It’s the age old saying. Don’t touch your pimples. Don’t pick at them. Don’t pop them. We all know it. Does it mean we’ve stopped doing it entirely? Probably not. It’s super tempting, and what’s the real harm? In fact there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t pick at, touch, or pop pimples. Picking at pimples almost always, without fail, will make it worse.

Pimples are infected wounds at their core, and when you start pulling at the skin around the pimple it will just get worse, and look worse! Picking at pimples can also cause scabs and scars, which are more difficult to cover and longer lasting. It can also lead to infection. If your fingers or your tools are dirty, more bacteria is likely to get into the pore.

Instead, opt for a spot treatment like the Acropass Trouble Cure which contains patented microneedle technology to infuse your skin with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and oligopeptide-76. The ‘needles’ dig deep into the blemish and attack bacteria and inflammation faster so that this patch can than other pimple patches.

But if this doesn’t sound like it’s for you, another great option is also the Klog Soft Shield Pimple Patch, which will seal your pimple off from further infection or fingers and draw out any gunk underneath the skin. 

2. Not washing your face OR washing your face too much


Over the course of a single day, your face goes through a lot. There’s sweat, makeup, bacteria from our hands and other objects like glasses, and even external factors like pollution that could potentially be clogging our pores. Studies show that those who are acne-prone will definitely benefit from washing their face twice daily, and many suggest a double cleanse.

On the flip side, you can definitely be washing your face too much. It feels wrong that this would be true, but over-cleansing can lead to the skin drying out, which causes the skin to produce more oil to compensate, thereby causing additional acne. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends limiting your face washing to twice per day and after sweating. Using a cleanser with salicylic acid or glycolic acid a few times per week can actually help stop breakouts before they even start. The Neogen Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser is a great gentle option for keeping those pimples at bay. 

Another good choice is the Hanskin Cleansing Oil & Blackhead [PHA]. It actively fights blackheads and cleans your skin while the addition of salicylic acid helps to lightly exfoliate, control sebum, and help remove and prevent the re-occurrence of blackheads!

3. Washing your face in the shower

This one seems counterintuitive, right? You’re in the shower already, might as well kill two birds with one stone and wash your face along with the rest of your body. But actually the hot water from the shower, can be particularly irritating and drying for the skin. Dermatologists recommend cleansing your face with tepid water and avoiding physical irritation, i.e. your shower spray.

Instead, double cleanse and moisturize before you get in the shower and stand facing away from the shower head to avoid getting your face drenched. If you do have a lot of shampoo running down your face after the shower, cleanse again to catch any residue that may have been left on your face. Make sure you also avoid using a towel to dry your face. Towels, especially ones sitting in your bathroom, house bacteria. Instead, give yourself a little massage. Use your hands to push water droplets up your face and neck and then shake off the excess water. Then follow up with the next step in your routine.

4. Being too harsh on your breakouts

Breakouts are wounds. They are sensitive, but in our rush to make them go away, we often don’t treat them for what they are. Physical exfoliation over acne can actually cause the infection to spread to other parts of the face, so it’s important to make sure you’re listening to your skin and adjusting your exfoliating as such.

Also, be careful that you don’t over-exfoliate. Over exfoliating is a major cause of acne that’s often overlooked. Moderate exfoliation allows us to keep our pores clean and healthy, but going overboard can cause irritation and minor tears in the skin, making us more susceptible to infection and bacteria. If you are prone to over exfoliation, maybe opt for a chemical exfoliant like a BHA or AHA. We love the Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner

5. Not moisturizing

Moisturizing is a super important part of the routine regardless of whether you have acne or not. But it’s especially important for those who are acne-prone. There’s a misconception that the way to heal acne is to dry it up, but the truth is that moisturizing can actually help in getting rid of excess sebum or oil production. When our skin is dry, the body feels like it needs to compensate, and it does so by producing even more oil. The right moisturizer will make up for this dryness, especially if you’re using products like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid which already have a tendency to dry out the skin.

The Dr. Oracle A-Thera Cream and Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream are some great moisturizers for acne-prone skin that will hydrate without leaving you feeling greasy. Or try the Inward Agas ACue Cream. This is a soothing cream packed with great ingredients like green tea and traditional Korean herbs. It will work instantly fortify skin with vitamins and antioxidants, tighten pores, and calm puffiness.

6. Only treating acne once its already appeared

Spot treatments are great, but they’re not a long term solution for acne. Oftentimes, they’re not even a short term solution for acne. If you’re acne-prone, there are several lifestyle changes you should be making to ensure that your acne doesn’t keep coming back. For example, changing your pillowcase on the regular. Pimples are common but they’re also a serious skin condition. It’s important to treat them regularly, not just when you can see them to ensure that they don’t keep coming back or getting worse.

7. Not being consistent

A skin care routine is vital in getting rid of your acne, long term. Every brand claims that they have the fast-working treatment that’s going to get rid of your acne overnight, but the truth is that acne treatments like those can be harsh and drying, a gentle routine may not banish your acne for good, but eating right and making sure that your face is clean and skin is hydrated is a great start.

If you’re new to K-beauty, you should definitely check out the 10 step routine for sensitive acne-prone skin or the super affordable 6-step acne routine. Both are great for keeping your skin healthy and happy over the longer course of time, thereby reducing your total number of breakouts. Keep in mind that you definitely shouldn’t try all these products at once and should gradually build new products into your routine to avoid a skin freak out.

8. Not washing your gadgets and glasses

You probably touch your face more than you think. If you’re reading this off a laptop or a computer, you’re likely resting your face in your hands. Our hands carry a ton of bacteria from throughout the day (even if we’re washing them regularly). So do our phones and glasses. And we’re putting that on our faces. Yuck! Some of this is unavoidable since not touching your face is pretty difficult. Don’t beat yourself up over it, but definitely be aware.

And if you’re touching your face consciously, don’t worry. There are other ways to work around the urge. Try using a blotting sheet. This will help give you a feel of your skin midday without actually touching it. We recommend the Etude House My Beauty Tool Oil Control Film. They remove excess shine and pesky sebum and also come in a portable and travel-friendly box, perfect for keeping in your bag! 

9. Not listening to your skin

Your skin will tell you when something’s wrong. That sounds weird, but it will. You can feel your skin become itchy, taut, and raw. Whilst some products might cause your skin to tingle or sting, at first, anything that stings past the introduction process (which is about two weeks), is probably irritating your skin more than it is helping it. If you develop any stinging or burning that is significant or turning red, it’s probably an allergic or irritation reaction and it is advisable to wash the product off the skin.

Start slow with new products. Patch test. Wait a little while. Products and routines don’t happen overnight. You may not start to see significant changes for weeks or even months, but isn’t clear, glowing skin worth the wait?

10. Not Doing Your Research

It’s not just for food products, your makeup products also come with ingredient labels. And it’s important to read them or study up on a product before you throw it into your shopping cart. Michele Farber from Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City tells us that one of the biggest mistakes that she sees is “using overly thick products on your skin. If your makeup, moisturizer, sunscreen or other skin care products don’t say non-comedogenic or won’t clog pores, you’re causing breakouts.”

Bottom line:

Acne treatments aren’t always intuitive, and acne mistakes can easily be made. Sure there are the ones we hear all the time, like leave your pimples alone. But some are less obvious, like making sure to moisturize. Being aware of the ways in which even everyday actions can affect your breakouts is the best way to make sure that you have sustainable, clear, and radiant looking skin.

+ Were you surprised by any of these acne mistakes? Let us know!

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