Acne carries a pretty hefty stigma, it's no joke. If you've got a spot and your sisters cousins uncle sees it, you best believe they've got something to say about it as well. I've personally heard it all from "just wash your face" and "don't worry and it'll go away" to "quit wearing makeup and your skin will clear up". Yet here I am, vegan, sugar free, refined carbohydrate free, stress free, makeup free, and hormones controlled but am still experiencing breakouts- what gives? While I can't write a blog post about every single acne myth I've ever had said to me, here are some of my favorites. Debunked.
1- If you don´t worry it´ll just go away
Okay, yeah let me just get namaste real quick while these cystic spots colonize over my entire face, yup sounds good. While stress does cause acne, this one is easier said than done AND stress isn't the only aggravating factor in pesky breakouts. Even if you "quit worrying about it" your acne could be due to other things such as food intolerances, fragrance sensitivity, chemical filled cosmetics, hormonal imbalances, and even a spike in blood sugar. Therefore, not worrying about it probably won't get you very far.
My Advice: I actually suggest the opposite, educate yourself as much as possible. Keep a food journal to see how you feel after eating certain meals and if they trigger a breakout, switch out your laundry detergent to a natural one to see if your skin becomes calmer, invest in a hypoallergenic pillow, look into adaptogens for balancing your hormones; the world is your oyster!
Give any method you chose to test at least two to three months, or six weeks for a full skin cycle before drawing any conclusions. As you become educated on your own skin as much as you possibly can, you will learn what your triggers are and what does or doesn't work for you. Also, if stress is an issue for you try implementing daily yoga, a long walk, meditation, a bubble bath, or some form of exercise to help your mind and body cope with the negative effects of stress.
2- Dirty skin causes acne
If I "just washed my face" with about every drug store and high-end cleanser then why am I still faced with acne (no pun intended)? Turns out, acne isn't cause by dirt. In fact, hygiene has very little to do with the development of acne, and most acne sufferers, such as myself, actually over compensate in the hygiene department which in turn leads to more acne.
Using too many harsh soaps or chemicals can irritate the skin and make the condition worse. Ironic because we think of these products as cleansing our skin and drying out our spots, but overly dry skin is stripped of its natural oils and must overcompensate by producing an excess amount of sebum, which then clogs the pore. So, the truth here is, overly clean skin causes acne. Not dirt.
My Advice: If you're not seeing noticeable results with your current routine try cutting back on the harsh cleansers and swap out all of your skincare products for more natural hydrating ones. Also try implementing your skincare routine only once a day, at night. At times we over compensate by washing two or even three times a day and unknowingly are aggravating our skin, over drying it, and in turn making our acne worse.
As an acne sufferer, I never thought of myself as someone who had dry skin, I figured since my skin was acne prone that automatically meant it was oily. WRONG. A good way to check this is to feel your face when you get out of the shower, if you move it and it feels stiff, stingy, or like paper then you have dry skin. If it feels like the rest of your body or dough-like then you probably have normal or oily skin.
3- Makeup causes acne
Oh, the controversy. Say it with me, makeup does not cause acne. If you are worried, you can search for non-comedogenic (pore clogging) products and make sure to solely use those and completely remove it at the end of the day. Acne can be aggravated by makeup, but makeup does not specifically cause acne. After all, many people who wear makeup do not suffer from acne.
There are certain products of course that can irritate your skin due to added fragrances or can cause hormonal imbalances due to toxicities in the product, but for the most part makeup does not cause acne. Like any pore clogging product, the only way that makeup can cause acne is by not completely removing it at the end of the day. Tiny micro particles can get lodged into your skin and clog up your pores, so after cleansing and before moisturizing be sure to tone with a PH balanced toner to remove any traces of hidden makeup.
My Advice: Give your skin a break! To determine if makeup is aggravating your skin try giving yourself a few makeup free days during the weekend or switching to a non-comedogenic foundation. It is possible that certain chemical ingredients or fragrances can irritate your skin so it is also important to try switching to all natural or completely organic makeup products if possible.
One of my favorite phone applications to check ingredients, toxicity levels, and carcinogens in makeup, skincare, and everyday house products is . The app has been a real game changer because it rates products on a scale of 1-10 (1 being clean and 10 being dirty) based on how "dirty" their ingredients are. I've personally found that sticking to natural products with a clean rating of 3 or below keeps my acne at bay. Of course, everyone's skin is different but if you feel your products are irritating your skin, looking at the ingredients may be a good place to start.
I made the personal choice to quit wearing makeup a few months ago but some of my favorites used to be the , , , and for concealer . I found that these products had all day coverage without breaking the bank or breaking out my skin.
4- The sun makes acne better
I used to be addicted to tanning. I would show you some photos here but it's pretty darn embarrassing and most of those pictures are gone because of that reason. The reason why I was so in love with that false glow? It cleared up my skin, fast (or so I thought). It helped to dry out any spots and kept my skin looking clear and glowy for years; eventually I realized it was terrible for my skin and overall health and kicked that habit to the curb.
Apparently, what I was really seeing there was just an illusion, my skin was getting darker so the inflammation around the pimples was becoming less noticeable. Sunlight may give you the appearance of clear skin at first and have mild inflammatory effects but in the long run is not worth the risk of extremely dry skin, skin cancer, and signs of premature aging. For some the sun causes relaxation and a decrease in stress, which in turn can cause a decrease in acne. However, there are other more beneficial ways to decrease stress.
My Advice: If you want to try an alternative to those harsh UV rays give the a whirl. It uses red and blue light technology to naturally, and chemically free treat acne. Blue light helps to target acne causing bacteria while red light reduces overall inflammation. It’s a great way to sit down and relax for 10 minutes without worrying about the harsh effects of the sun like skin cancer or premature aging. I personally own this mask and use it occasionally when I have a large breakout that refuses to go down.
5- Acne is curable
Wait what? That's wrong! This is total bogus, acne is curable I know of people who have cured their acne and have seen 1000 million YouTube videos on people explaining "how they cleared their skin". Probably what you're thinking right now am I right? Because I thought the same exact thing. BUT, it turns out this isn't true. Acne is a chronic disease which has no official cure. There are washes, creams, diets, and lifestyle changes that can be used to manage it, but as of today in 2017 there isn't one specific "cure".
Acne can last anywhere from a few years as a teen to 20 or more as an adult. It is also a continuous skin condition, which means that it lives on and beneath the skin for years. Depending on hormones, stress factors, and other lifestyle choices acne can come and go at different points in your life but if you have the disease, you should always be treating your skin as if it were acne prone.
My Advice: Don't give up! Just because acne doesn't have a cure, doesn't mean that it isn't manageable. Instead of relying solely on skincare products, try digging towards the deeper root of your acne and tackling it that way. Experiment with diet changes like cutting out dairy, working out more frequently, increasing your water intake to see how simple things may affect your skin.
And once you've gotten it under control, don't expect to never have a spot ever again in your life. because of hormones, stress, higher levels of inflammation, and just down right genetics acne sufferers are predisposed to having flare ups every now and then- and that’s okay. I would argue that my skin is generally, for the most part, clear but I can still expect a random stress breakout or a spot around that time of the month. Maybe one day I'll grow out of it, but for now I can deal with the odd spot.
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Kali Kushner, known as the Instagram alias myfacestory, is a natural beauty advocate in the greater Cincinnati area who is passionate about using organic skincare and holistic remedies to heal acne from the inside out. Her dedication lies in her own chronic acne struggles as she continues to restore herself while helping those around her.