Facing Facts: Acne Myths & Misconceptions

The best defense you have against unwanted breakouts is knowing what you’re dealing with. Getting to know what causes acne, the different forms it can take, and your options for treatment will get you part of the way to understanding acne myths, but you’ll also want to be able to separate fact from fiction. Keep scrolling to discover what’s true and what’s just a rumor when it comes to acne.

Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S.

True. Acne affects 50 million people annually, with 85 percent of young people (ages 12-24) and a growing percentage of adults (women in particular) experiencing some form of acne. (source: AAD.org)

Acne doesn’t cause any long-term damage.

False. Long after the pimples disappear, Acne can contribute to significant psychological struggles (low self-esteem, depression, etc.) and physical effects like permanent skin scarring and discolorations.

Pimple on parts of the body besides the face aren’t considered acne.

This falls under the category of acne myths! Acne can occur all over the body, including chest and back. And yes, we treat those areas too.

Products like skin lotions, moisturizers, and sunscreens cause breakouts.

Maybe. Trick question. All skincare is not created equal, and there are many over-the-counter and drugstore products that are not designed for oily and acne-prone skin. Simply avoiding moisturizing and using sunscreen isn’t the answer—maintaining the right level of hydration is critical in keeping skin clear, and sun protection is just as important (more on that later). There are plenty of lightweight, oil-free, acne-safe skincare products out there. We’ve listed a few of our favorites here.

Getting a little sun helps clear and prevent breakouts.

False. While sun-kissed skin is all the rage, what people don’t talk about—the long-term damage—is NOT worth it. Direct sun irritates the skin, which often causes an overproduction of oil (thus, more breakouts). In addition to that, some of the products in our skincare lineup make skin more sensitive to the sun. Too much sun exposure while using these products can result in skin discolorations. That’s why we ask clients to wear sunscreen every day and reapply often when outside for long periods.

Washing your face often will help keep skin clear.

False! Overwashing can strip your face of natural oils. These oils keep skin hydrated—hydration means more water and oxygen to your pores, which keeps the acne bacteria in check. When your pores have plenty of access to oxygen, it’s harder for p. acnes to thrive and multiply.

Strong astringents and toners can be used as a substitute for cleanser.

Another one in the acne myths category. Using harsh ingredients or the wrong products for your skin can make acne worse. Additionally, astringents and toners are not meant for cleansing—they are formulated to re-balance the skin’s natural pH level and, in some cases, deliver active ingredients. While a toner-soaked cotton round you swipe across your face might appear to have “dirt” on it, the “dirt” is part of the protective layer of your skin discolored by oxidation. In other words, you’re not doing a deep clean of your pores. We don’t recommend taking shortcuts with your skincare regimen. Using the right products for the job will make all the difference.

Certain foods can make acne worse.

Potentially. Another trick question. There are many studies—and conflicting conclusions—on which foods contribute to acne. However, there is some consensus that acne-prone individuals should avoid common allergens like dairy, peanuts, gluten, sugar, and soy products, as well as foods high in iodine. Beyond that, some people have different acne triggers; we’ll discuss your particular diet and potential acne triggers during your consultation.

We believe a healthy, clean diet will benefit your acne treatment, so we strongly recommend eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins and limiting processed foods as much as possible. Ultimately, of course, it’s up to you. But part of your treatment plan will include nutrition recommendations based on your skin and your acne condition.

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