7 Skincare Habits That Can Make Acne Worse

Battling acne? We have a tip. These habits could be contributing to your acne issues

close up of womans face with acne

These habits could be making your acne worse

Have you ever wondered why you keep getting pimples even though your personal hygiene and acne treatment are on point?

It’s frustrating when your skin doesn’t reflect the consistency and hard work that goes into your skincare routine. Here’s the thing: Maybe your skincare routine isn’t helping as much as you think it does.

Let’s talk about some typical skincare habits that might be causing that new breakout.

1. Combining or Changing Acne Treatments Weekly

Be patient when you’re introducing new products to your skin. Do it one at a time if you can, and don’t expect overnight results. Noticeable improvement takes one or two months, and completely clear skin can take twice that amount of time.

Changing products every other week or faster is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it not effective, but it may lead to new breakouts.

Unless they’re meant to be used together, it’s also a bad idea to use multiple acne-treating products. This can cause excessive dryness and irritation, even make breakouts stick around longer.

2. Using Acne-Causing Makeup, Skincare and Haircare Products

If you’re acne-prone, products used on and near your face should be non-comedogenic and formulated to be beneficial to acne sufferers. Look for the words “non-acnegenic,” “oil-free” or “won’t clog pores” on the labels, too. Note that “non-greasy” is different from “oil-free” and may not necessarily denote that an item is good for blemished skin. Check your makeup, moisturizer, face wash, sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioner.

Make sure you’re not using body sunscreens and moisturizers on your face. Some ingredients to avoid in anything you apply on your face: beeswax, cocoa butter, coconut oil, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum.

3. Leaving Makeup Brushes and Other Tools Dirty

Before we talk about this, it should be said that you should be the only one using your makeup brushes. This goes for any makeup applied using those brushes, too. You don’t want other people’s bacteria, natural oils, and dead skin to end up on your face.

Wash your brushes and any other applicators—including blenders and the little ones in palettes and compacts—once a week. You can soak them all in a mixture of gentle shampoo and water and air dry on a paper towel after a thorough rinse.

4. Washing Your Face More Often Than Necessary

Yes, this is possible! Washing your face too many times may irritate blemished skin further and even cause new breakouts.

Wash your face a minimum of twice a day: when you wake up and before you sleep. That you need to remove your makeup before bed is a given. If you have trouble remembering to cleanse your face before sleeping, keep non-comedogenic face wipes on your nightstand.

You should also wash your face any time you sweat intensely. It’s important that you don’t wipe away facial sweat with your hand or a dirty towel post-workout. Keep a separate clean towel or another set of face wipes in your gym bag.

5. Drying Out Your Skin Unintentionally

If you suffer from acne and your skin feels extra oily, it can be tempting to go overboard and use alcohol or astringents to remove the greasiness. You may even want to wash your face with very hot water with the hopes of opening up your pores. Don’t do any of these things! You will only make your skin dehydrated and irritated.

Dry skin is irritated skin. What’s worse is that dryness may even trigger your skin to overproduce natural oils, which is exactly what you don’t want.

6. Scrubbing and Exfoliating Too Much.

What does “too much” mean? If your scrubs and peels leave your skin blotchy or too senstive, that’s not a good sign. Sloughing off your dead skin cells shouldn’t hurt or cause inflammation.

Exfoliation should be done only once or twice a week, not every day. If you use a physical item like a loofah, cleansing brush, or washcloth to scrub your facial skin with each wash, stop and stick to a gentle cleansing daily routine. Using a scrub or a peel? Stick to mild formulas.

7. Popping Pimples and Touching Breakouts.

You’re really not supposed to touch your face often, as your hands can transfer dirt, oil, and bacteria to your more sensitive facial skin. If your breakouts happen along your jawline or near your chin, touching your face too often or sleeping with a dirty pillowcase could be what’s keeping your acne from healing completely.

Why is it bad to pop a pimple? You may want to do it because it feels satisfying and it makes sense to remove the pus and bacteria from your face, but it doesn’t help at all. In fact, it makes your breakout worse. You are not only touching your face but also applying pressure that may increase inflammation and push some of the pus and bacteria further into your skin.

What happens after pimple popping is also part of the problem. If you can’t help but pick at it, you may make scarring worse and cause the breakout to spread even further.

Resources⁠—American Academy of Dermatology, Allure, Everyday Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Insider

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