Break Free From Breakouts: 10 Practical Tips On How To Prevent Acne
Acne, in all its forms (be it whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, cysts or nodules) and the scars it leaves in its wake, is not a sight for sore eyes.
That is partly why we spend hours (plus hundreds of dollars) working tirelessly trying to perfect our skincare regimen; in hopes of one day achieving that clear complexion goal.
If you are one of us unlucky few, you’ve most likely tried all sorts of masks, creams, peels and/or countless amounts of dermatologists’ treatment options, only to still find yourself frustrated by your godawful acne problem.
Blemishes, pimples, bumps, zits, acne—whatever name we choose to call it—are annoying at best, and can lead to serious anxiety, depression and self-esteem problems for the faint at heart.
Even though everyone, no matter her skin type, is likely to get a pimple from time to time, there are certain skin types (such as oily or combination skin) that are more prone to an acne breakout.
If you are tired of your issues with acne making you feel down, and (I hate to say this) not so attractive…then you’ll need to continue reading.
In this article, I will highlight 10 practical tips on how to prevent acne…the holistic way!
But first, let us make note of what causes an acne breakout.
What causes acne?
There are many factors that can trigger a breakout. Some of the most common culprits are:
- Clogged pores resulting from an overproduction of oils/sebum.
- Bacterial infection in the pores.
- Stress-induced inflammation.
- Hormonal imbalances.
- Poor hygiene.
So many of us struggle with acne (and its effects) and it’s not hard to see why.
Acne, especially the kind that is formed from circumstances beyond our control, is not the easiest thing to get rid of, and its effects can hit us harder than we least expected. That is why we are always trying (though not always successfully) to find new and creative ways to help ourselves and a sister out.
I have compiled below a list of 10 top tips that you can follow to help your plight. They may not tell you how to get rid of acne overnight, but they sure do help with understanding your situation (what you might be doing wrong) a bit better and in essence, help to reduce future breakouts.
1. Just Chill
Stress can cause inflammation, which can cause you to break out so badly!
Stress also stimulates your adrenal glands which, for acne-prone individuals, promote more oil production and ultimately clogged pores which equate to breakouts.
It’s easy to allow yourself to get stressed. Whether you have a paper due that you’re nowhere near finishing; your boss is being the typical power-hungry pig and bombarding you with ridiculous amounts of work; you’re pregnant; you’re a single mom and have to juggle everything on your own; your boyfriend just dumped you (God forbids!); you have to do late nights at work…it could be as simple as breaking a nail. Anything.
But! Whenever life seems to be too hectic for your own good, just step back and take a deep breath.
Meditate, read a book, go for a walk if you must, do some yoga, binge watch your favorite Netflix series, set yourself a nice long bubble bath, sip on a glass of red wine, do some aromatherapy, make a cup of coffee (even if, like me, you don’t drink it, the smell of it alone is enough to calm you down)—just do something to ease your mind and relax your body.
You’ll thank yourself later.
2. Wash Your Face Properly & Not TOO Often
If you wish to lessen the likelihood of your face breaking out, it is important to remove excess dirt and oils from the skin (face). How can you do so? By washing your face regularly.
It seems like a “duh” worthy tip, however, you’d be surprised to know how many of you are failing at this simple yet super important step.
We tend to feel that the more we wash our face, the less we are are getting clogged pores and the lower the chances of a breakout. So we wash our face as often as we can per day.
Overwashing your face is a big no-no as it may cause the skin to dry out, as well as aggravate pimples. (Duh!) To be on the safer side, reduce the amount of time that you wash your face to 2 times daily; preferably when you wake in the morning and again before bed.
Here are a few tips on how to wash your face properly:
1. Use a mild (alcohol-free) cleanser, with warm or lukewarm water.
2. Rub the face wash/gentle scrub (scrubs with large grains can damage your skin) into your skin in a circular motion.
3. Rinse with cold water to seal the pores. Pat dry.
4. Apply an oil-free moisturizer (these are usually labeled noncomedogenic) after washing your face, to prevent the skin from drying out. We all know what happens when your skin gets too dry.
This brings us to the next tip.
3. Refrain from harsh scrubbing
Please be cautious when it comes to scrubbing your face!
You should remember that the skin on your face is one of the most delicate areas on your body.
Many people believe that the harder you scrub the skin, the cleaner it gets. On the contrary, this actually does more harm than good.
Scrubbing the skin with coarse pads, sponges, or washcloths can irritate the skin and cause inflammation—making your breakout worse!
Instead, try applying a gentle cleanser using your hands (must be clean) or with a soft brush that can be used on the face.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You snooze, you lose“?
Well, this is one case where snoozing makes you a winner!
Stress caused by lack of sleep (due to insomnia, broken sleep, or a hectic work schedule) increases breakouts and makes it harder for you to lighten those dark circles aka “sleeping bags” that take residency around your eyes.
I love a good smokey eye, but to be sporting a natural raccoon mug is not my definition of cute!
I recommend that you try to get at least 6 to 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night on a consistent basis.
5. Keep Your Hair Out Of Your Face!
We all love a cute bang, side part, or a sleek side sweep!
Not to mention the trend of slaying our edges.
We spend hours and tons of hair products trying to get every strand in place; after all, a sister only wants to unleash her inner Kim Kardashian!
However, this may not have the cutest effect on our skin. The oils from our hair plus all that extra oil from the styling products (hairsprays, hair gels, vaseline, mousse, etc) can actually make our acne worse.
You can rock a bomb updo and still be gorg!
Here are 6 quick and easy (not to mention cute) hairstyles that you can rock instead (without the hassle of having to tuck strands of hair behind your ear every two seconds:
- Side braids
- Accent braids
- Loose cornrows
- Low updos
- Loose ponytail (not too loose, sis)
- Low buns
All of these hairstyles are perfect for limiting forehead (and jaw) acne while keeping your hair healthy and free from damage.
6. Breakup With Makeup
If you’re someone who loves a good face beat, then this may be a hard, but necessary sacrifice.
At least until you get that breakout under control.
Whenever our face breaks out and just seems too atrocious to look at, we are often tempted to cover it up.
And what better way is there than to drown those pesky pimples with foundation?
Yes, makeup is a beautiful form of body art, and yes it does make us feel more alive, beautiful and gives us major confidence boosts, but it also can have negative effects on our precious skin (especially when misused).
One such effect is that it can clog your pores and trigger an acne outbreak or make an existing one much worse!
If you suffer from acne-prone skin, then I’d recommend that you rock a fresh face from time to time.
And when you do wear makeup, try your best to avoid products that are oil-based (greasy), contain paraben, are heavy-weighted, and fragrance-infused.
PRO TIP: When shopping for makeup products, be sure to check the label. Anything that doesn’t read “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic” certainly may not be the one for you and your skin type.
7. Talk To Your Doctor
Believe it or not, your doctor knows best.
Sometimes, the cause of your acne goes deeper than you think.
It may be as a result of other underlying health issues.
Take me for example, I suffer from cystic acne brought on by PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome) which is much harder to remedy. Before my diagnosis, I spent so much time and money on all types of skincare products (cheap and expensive) but none of them worked and I wondered why the heck not. Some of them even made my acne worse!
The thing is, if I didn’t go for a check-up, I wouldn’t have known that the issue laid within.
The treatment of blackheads and whiteheads may differ significantly from that for pustules, nodules, and cysts.
Your doctor (or dermatologist), through an in-depth assessment, will be better able to identify the type of acne you suffer from and therefore decide how best to treat it.
Hormonal acne is a common type in many women, and as such your doctor may prescribe certain antibiotics, and/or birth control medication for treating that form of acne. This is because the pills may contain properties that regulate hormonal levels (reduce androgens) which can affect the extent to which breakouts occur.
Bear in mind that everyone’s body reacts differently to medication and that there are risks/side effects associated with those pills (as with any other form of medicine), so you should seek sound advice as well as carry out your own complete reviews before deciding what to get, when to take it and when to stop.
P.S. It is not recommended that you stop taking any medication without proper approval.
PRO TIP: Acne-prone women should avoid birth control pills such as Norplant, Provera, and Depo-Provera as these boost testosterone, which leads to breakouts. As I said, consult your physician for other options.
8. No Popping. Get Topical
Whenever our faces break out, three (3) of the most common “problem areas” are usually our forehead, nose and jaws.
While it may be tempting to squeeze a pimple, this is not the right way to go!
Use a topical treatment instead to reduce the appearance of those pesky blemishes.
You can go over-the-counter with creams or serums…or you can choose to take a more natural route with essential oils and effective DIY face scrubs. Any which way, it’s BETTER than popping away!
When you pop a pimple, the dirt and bacteria from your nails may be transferred to the skin and cause an infection. The abrasion may also result in irritation or inflammation. Squeezing the skin can push bacteria and pus deeper into the skin, as well as it can also lead to the formation of scabs or leave you with pits (holes in your face) or scars—which is worse than the blemish itself!
When you play around with that pimple, you are interfering with your skin’s natural healing mechanism. Those scabs and scars will serve as a permanent reminder of your foolery, EVERY single time you look in the mirror.
Prevention is better than cure!
Here’s a cool trick for the next time you feel the urge to pick/pop a pimple: rub a cube of ice on it for about 5 minutes, two times per day. Try to catch the pimple or pustule when it’s just forming. It most likely will go away!
PRO TIP: Opt for over-the-counter products that contain retinol, sulfur, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acids as these are known for preventing mild acne, reducing breakouts and inflammation. It is recommended that you start out with a product low in benzoyl peroxide concentrations as an active ingredient.
P.S: Some drugs require a prescription…but no worries, a quick trip to your doctor’s office can solve that problem.
Some alternatives to pimple popping are:
- Getting your dermatologist to perform an extraction.
- Applying heat (for example, a clean warm washcloth/rag) on the inflamed area to soothe the pain. This may cause your pores to open and release on their own.
- Trying an at-home spot treatment such as hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, baking soda, charcoal scrub or toothpaste (maybe!). 🙂
9. Say “NO” To Certain Foods
Just as important as watching what you put on your body, is monitoring what you put inside.
After all, you are what you eat!
Although we cannot be certain that foods are directly the cause of acne, research suggests that there are some foods that are classified as problematic for the skin.
Dairy is one of them!
If nothing else, here are 3 classifications of foods to remove from your diet:
- Salty: Avoid any food that contains too many iodides. There are studies that show that Iodine is an essential mineral you must get from your diet, however, too much of anything, in my opinion, can be detrimental. Iodides are typically found in consumables such as cod, salmon, iodized salt, shellfish, kelp tablets, some vitamins, even Gatorade (yes, the drink that is said to boost your energy may be affecting somewhere else!)
- Milky (Dairy): Go on, dump the dairy! It just makes sense. Dairy is often linked to conditions such as allergies, water retention, congestion or digestive problems (lactose intolerance, anyone?), bloating, acne among other health concerns. Foods such as milk, cheese, ice cream, dairy-rich coffee drinks (with that beautiful coffee art) and sour cream should be eaten in moderation if not cut out completely.
If the idea of cutting out all dairy products right away seems daunting, you can ease into it. Try throwing out the foods you hate the most, first, then slowly consume less and less of the ones you love until you’ve gotten used to not eating any at all.
If you are concerned about your calcium intake, then, by all means, substitute dairy with dark leafy greens or almond milk. You can also try more soy products, vegan cheeses, and butters, vegan ice cream, or other calcium supplements. Get creative!
- Nutty: You don’t have to go nuts. Literally!
Some nuts and its by-products, such as peanuts, peanut butter, and wheat germ are high in androgen (male hormones) which can worsen your acne by increasing sebum production.
And sis, more sebum (that’s oil by the way) = MORE ACNE.
If you’re acne-prone, there are many other nuts on the market for you to enjoy. Just as long as they are unsalted!
10. Block & Delete With Sunblock
While vitamin D is good, too much sun can severely damage the skin.
It is also claimed to exacerbate hyperpigmentation, lead to premature aging and can cause “Solar acne” later in life.
For us, acne victims (haha), too much exposure to raw UV rays can cause sunburn or dehydration which in turn leads to an overproduction of oils/sebum that blocks your pores and can make your acne worse!
Before you go for a walk, a stroll on the beach, or just outside for that matter, make sure you remember to put on your sunscreen!
And there you have it, that sums up the 10 top tips on how to prevent acne.
Improving our skin’s appearance, for some is a task high up on our wish lists.
For many, achieving glowing, healthy, blemish-free skin is like a fantasy…but it doesn’t have to be.
Even though we can’t do anything to stop some forms of acne (hormonal or cystic acne for example), there is something we can do to reduce its effects on our lives. And that is simply through altering our daily routine (the bad habits that we’ve formulated and perfected without even knowing)!
Simple acts such as practicing good hygiene, eating right, and paying more attention to our bodies may be enough to spare us a lifetime of mental suffering and a ton load of cash spent on restorative remedies/treatment.
You may be saying that’s easier said than done! But, no one (ever!) told you that being and feeling beautiful was an easy feat.
Key Takeaway: 8 Basic Skincare Tips
You can save these or make note of them so that they act as a reminder for the next time you are tempted to revert to old ways:
- Don’t use any product with mint in it! Mint is irritable to the skin (especially when it’s acne-prone).
- Try your best to avoid products with alcohol in them; they can dry out your skin!
- NEVER apply essential oils on your skin unless they are significantly diluted. Undiluted oils have the tendency to burn and damage your skin. Lemongrass, Lemon oil, and other citrus-based oils are key examples.
- Avoid picking or popping your pimples/touching your face, as much as possible.
- Wear sunscreen EVERYDAY and re-apply every 2 hours.
- Take care of your makeup and skincare products & tools!
- Every skin is different! Yet every skin (yes, even oily skin!) needs to be kept moisturized. DON’T FORGET to add the moisturizer to your neck and body, as well!
- Change your bedsheets and pillowcases often, and ensure to wash them using fragrance-free detergents such as CHEER FREE, ALL FREE & CLEAR, TIDE FREE OR HARM & HAMMER FREE.
Cheers to Glowing Skin!