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5 Acne Treatment Mistakes You’re Probably Making, According to Dermatologists

Between the advice you get from friends and family and the tips you read online, it can be hard to know what is really the best acne treatment. A good place to start is with these five tips.

Should you actually put honey on zits? How much should you exfoliate acne-prone skin? And what’s the deal with cleansing oily skin? These are all questions those who deal with acne ask and often receive mixed answers to.

Here, we ask five dermatologists to share their opinion on the one thing they wish people would stop doing when it comes to treating their acne, and we offer real solutions and plans that should keep blemishes a part of your past.

Mistake #1: You’re over-washing.

If you wash twice a day, that is enough,” says Annie Chiu, a dermatologist in Redondo Beach. ‘Acne is rarely an issue that has to do with cleanliness, but more with tendencies for inflammation and pore clogging. Over-washing often overdries the skin which then confuses the oil glands into making more oil, sometimes worsening acne. Too aggressive or over enthusiastic cleansing can worsen inflammation and cause more redness, and in those who are prone, even scarring.”

neogen cleansing stick

If you’re getting the sense that your face is being over-washed, consider switching your cleanser to something softer and more subtle (yet still effective). Try the Neogen Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick. This is a foaming cleanser with a neutral-low pH that won’t strip skin of its natural oils. What it will do is effectively cleanse congested skin with a combination of 13 natural oils and lightly exfoliate dead skin cells (one big reason you get pimples) with green tea leaves.

Tip: Instead of double cleansing every morning and night, experiment with using this Neogen cleansing stick in the mornings and only double cleansing at night.

Mistake #2: You always have to touch your pimples.

“The biggest mistake is to try to pop or pick at pimples at home,” says Nava Greenfield, a dermatologist in New York City with the Schweiger Dermatology Group. “That can lead to scarring, which is very difficult to treat. Try to keep your hands away from your face even during breakouts. This way, when the breakouts resolve, your skin will be flawless.”

cosrx pimple patches

We know, it’s always tempting to attack that pimple right away and immediately get rid of it, but usually, popping a pimple does more harm than good in the long run (read all about why you should think twice about popping pimples here). While you may get rid of the unsightly part of the blemish right away, you’ll likely leave behind a scar that will last for weeks, or even months.

Our suggestion? When you see a pimple forming, keep you hands off it and slap on a handy Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch instead. These clear hydrocolloid patches are practically invisible (so you can wear them out in public) and they instantly go to work on toning down whiteheads and blackheads by eliminating bacteria and—most importantly—keeping your fingers off of the pimple so it can heal faster.

Mistake #3: You’re only spot treating pimples.

“Spot treating is the biggest mistake I see when it comes to treating acne,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of clinical and cosmetic research at the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “The face is made of thousands of pipes connecting the oil glands to the surface of the skin. All of those pipes are somewhat clogged, so we cannot predict where the next pimple will be. Treating only an individual pimple does not get to the root of the problem, does not prevent new pimples from developing, and will leave you playing catch-up.”

Here’s the deal: If you know pimples are going to pop up a lot in your life, you need to have a consistent regimen that contains products that will work to prevent breakouts from sprouting at all times. A great place to start is with Soko Glam’s easy five step “blackheads and pores” set.

It includes one of the best toners for acne: the Neogen Pore Refine Serum. As mentioned above, drying out your skin is not the way to go when trying to reduce acne. The Neogen serum has a thin consistency and works as an overall treatment product that tightens pores and eliminates redness, but doesn’t dry out skin. Instead, it leaves skin matte yet hydrated.

Mistake #4: You fall for Pinterest DIY remedies

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to acne is that they assume Pinterest has all the answers,” says Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist in New York City. “Many of my patients have tried multiple made-at-home remedies that leave their skin in worse condition than before. Ingredients that are in your kitchen or not meant to be put on your face. Don’t bother with lemon juice, baking soda, salt scrubs, or honey. You risk triggering more inflammation and scarring.”

neogen lemon peel

If you’re still itching to put “natural” products like lemon juice on your blemishes, try a product that has incorporated lemon extract into it while also making sure to balance it out with other ingredients so you don’t destroy your skin’s barrier.

The Neogen Lemon Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Lemon pads use a high level of lemon extract to slough dead skill cells, as well as lactic acid to clean pores of dirt and debris. But they won’t damage your skin because they are formulated with the right amount of lemon fruit extract to be effective yet gentle.

Mistake #5: You try to exfoliate away your pimples.

The biggest mistake is treating your skin harshly when you are breaking out,” says Michele Farber, a dermatologist in New York City. “Stripping your skin barrier or trying to scrub off pimples will only contribute to breakouts.”

missha toner

Instead of trying to scrub away acne (which will only exacerbate it), try the opposite approach: treating acne with gentle products that promote natural cell turnover. The Missha Time Revolution Clear Toner is a holy grail product for those with oily and acne-prone skin. Similar to the brand’s popular Time Revolution First Treatment Essence, this toner contains fermented yeast extract which works to promote cell turnover and very lightly exfoliate, but its more lightweight than the essence, so it won’t weigh down oily skin.

+ What do you think is the best acne treatment? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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