7 Acne Skin Care Taboos

Dermatologists recommend that their patients with acne and acne-prone skin avoid the following:

  1. Astringents, masks, toners, and exfoliators that contain scrubbing particles
    Unless one of these products contains an ingredient used to treat acne, such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, these products do not help clear acne. In fact, these products tend to irritate the skin and make acne worse. These products also may make it more difficult to tolerate prescription acne medications.

  2. Greasy hair-care products
    These hair-care products, such as pomades and oil-containing gels, can drip onto the skin and clog pores. This can cause acne.

  3. Picking, popping, and squeezing acne
    People pick and pop pimples to get rid of them quickly. The truth is doing any of these can irritate the skin and make acne worse. These also prolong healing time and increase the risk of scarring.

  4. Skin care products that contain oil
    Many skin care products from makeup to sunscreen contain oil. Oil can clog pores and lead to breakouts. Look for products that say “oil-free,” “will not clog pores” or “noncomedogenic.”

  5. Rubbing alcohol
    Some people apply rubbing alcohol in order to dry out the oily skin. This will not help clear acne nor prevent breakouts. In fact, it can irritate the skin and cause breakouts.

  6. Tanning
    Some people claim that their acne clears with sun exposure. The truth is tanning can be very damaging to the skin. If you are using a retinoid that you apply to your skin (adapalene, tretinoin, or tazarotene) to treat acne, you must:

  • Protect your skin from the sun

  • Not use a tanning bed or sun lamp

These acne medications cause the top layer of your skin to thin, which makes the skin very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and indoor tanning devices. Not using a retinoid for a few days will not reduce this sensitivity. Stopping for a few days can, however, reduce the effectiveness of your acne treatment.

Tanning also increases one’s risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. Using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases one’s risk for melanoma by 75%. Melanoma is now the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old, and is the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.

  1. Touching the skin throughout the day
    Dermatologists advise their patients with acne and acne-prone skin not touch their skin frequently. This can cause flare-ups.

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Page last updated 5/21/10

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