Battle Of The Blackheads: Three Ways You May Be Giving Your Acne The Upper Hand

You wake up. You line up a myriad of infantry fighters at the sink: benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, exfoliators, jojoba oil, washcloths, and makeup. This is your daily battle--your fight against acne. While this routine is definitely giving you a leg up over the enemy, there are somethings you are doing throughout the day that are causing your side to fail, and inevitably suppling the acne with fresh troops for the fight. 

1. You're feeding the army.

Whoever said that you are what you eat could not have been more astute. Many foods, especially fatty foods, like pizza and chocolate, have always been associated with breakouts. But, were you aware that acne is also often triggered or made worse by:

  • milk and milk products. Recent studies show that dairy products can aggravate or even cause acne growth. The reason? Milk contains the hormones of cows, which can actually make normal hormone fluctuations worse, especially during teen years. Hormones are usually what cause the overproduction of oils and sebum in the skin; these clog the pores. Milk may influence the skin to produce even more. Researchers know that it is not the fat content in milk that is the problem. In fact, those who drank processed, skimmed milk had a 44% increase in breakouts. 
  • sugar. The world is addicted to sugar, and your army of acne is only reaping the benefits. What's the big deal with sugar? Well, the digestion of sugar in the body creates two problems. First, inflammation in all body tissues increases. This means that your skin will be more easily irritated by outside triggers-- including oils and dirt that clog your pores. Second, your body is less able to fight infections because digesting sugars increases free radicals in the body, which work against your immune system. Basically, sugary treats are taking away your body's natural ability to fight back. 

You may find that cleaning up your diet and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and seeds will give your body the natural weapons it needs in order to treat acne naturally.

2. You're clogging up while covering up.

Many people cover up facial blemishes, only to be frustrated that more blemishes seem to surface. You can't expect to win a battle if you keep on giving new strength to the other side. Unfortunately, when you put on some types of makeup, that's exactly what you're doing. To reduce the risk of giving more strength to your acne, be sure to:

  • choose the right makeup. Makeup made for clear or relatively clear skin may not be right for an acne-prone person. When buying makeup, it's best to look for foundations that are noncomedogenic. These types of makeup are made without pore clogging ingredients, so they are a better choice for you. Also, powder based foundations are usually better for you than liquid based. 
  • clean your brushes. Sponges and brushes used for application can collect yeast and bacteria over time. As you smear foundation on your cheeks and brush on some bronzer, you may actually be redistributing these acne-causing culprits. Take time each week to clean your brushes with soap and water, and allow them to dry. 
  • try to go without. It can be hard to show your face when you're self conscious about acne, but giving your skin the opportunity to freshen up in the open air is a great tool for healing. Try to save makeup for when you really need it, such as for a date or a job interview. If you're spending the day at home or just going to the grocery store, leave the powders and creams in their box for the day. 

3. You're drying out.

Dry skin can also be the cause of acne. People have a lipid layer in their skin that helps to cleanse the pores and prevent things like dirt and bacteria from settling in. When this layer is depleted, your body loses this cleansing ability, and acne begins to form, even though your skin is not oily at all. 

Usually, dry skin is a sign of damage. If your skin is dry, try to use gel-based moisturizers after swimming or showering. Do not rub your face dry, but simply pat it with a towel. You can also help prevent damage by refraining from using benzoyl peroxide products, because these will dry out damaged skin even more. Finally, try to keep your skin from getting sunburned, and exfoliate dry skin in order to help stimulate the growth of new, undamaged tissue. For more tips, visit a site like Desert Dermatology.