The Top Ten Acne Myths
1. Myth: Washing Your Face Often Prevents Breakouts.
Fact: Washing your face several times a day will not do anything to keep you from breaking out. In most cases, it will only serve to irritate and dehydrate your skin. Acne starts deep within the pore – dead skin cells pile up faster than normal and get caught inside the pore causing a “microcomedone” (the beginning of an acne lesion) to form. You need products that penetrate inside the pore to prevent acne from forming in the first place.
2. Myth: Acne is caused by poor hygiene and/or acne is caused by dirt.
Fact: As said before, acne starts deep within the pore. Acne prone pore shed dead skin cells five times faster than normal pores. Dirt and/or surface skin oil has nothing to do with the formation of acne. Even if a person washes their face several times a day, it won’t stop acne from forming. (See myth #1). Acne needs to be managed with the right products that penetrate the pores to stop acne where it starts.
3. Myth: Acne is caused by candy and french fries.
Fact: A diet high in iodides (the salt on those french fries) can make acne worse, but neither candy nor fried foods “cause” acne. There have been studies that show that sugar-laden foods and fast foods can make acne worse, but it certainly is not the “cause”. If it caused it then every teenager in America would have acne, but that is not the case. Acne is an inherited disorder of the pores – you either are prone to it or not.
4. Myth: Acne is just a cosmetic disease.
Fact: Any disease that can leave permanent disfiguring scarring on the face is more than just a “cosmetic” disease. It affects the self-esteem of the acne sufferer deeply, some to the extent that they won’t leave the house or even go to school. Some people can get staph infections with their acne, which can be dangerous if not treated. Some people take Accutane (its equivalent) which can cause a whole host of really dangerous side effects. Acne is a disease that needs to be taken seriously!
5. Myth: You just have to let acne run its course.
Fact: Some people (not very many) never grow out of their acne. I had a client in her seventies that still broke out! For others, it is not worth the risk of potential permanent scarring that acne can cause. When acne can be managed with the right products, why take the chance? There have been studies done that people with acne get lower-paying jobs and get passed over for promotions. We live in a culture that rewards healthy, attractive people. While that may not be “right”, it is the reality. If you can do something about an unattractive condition then it is a really good idea to take action. Let an acne expert help you get your acne under control!
6. Myth: You should spot treat zits with benzoyl peroxide.
Fact: Benzoyl peroxide is best used as a preventative for acne. It kills the microcomedones (the beginning of an acne lesion) before it gets a foothold in the pore. If you just spot treat with it you are only treating the existing acne and not all of the pores where acne may be forming. Acne can take up to 90 days to form and come to the surface, so the area that you don’t treat may be the area where acne is getting its start.
7. Myth: Acne can be cured.
Fact: There is no “cure” for acne. Most people will grow out of it at some point in their lives, but no one can predict when that will be. Acne can wreak havoc on your face until you do. The good news is that acne can be controlled by using the right products for your type of acne and used in the right way. You want an acne expert to guide you in this process to get your skin clear as quickly as possible.
8. Myth: Toothpaste can cure acne.
Fact: This is truly an urban myth. While toothpaste may be able to dry out existing lesions, it has nothing in it that can prevent acne from forming in the first place. And, if you want a spot treatment (which is, at best, a band-aid approach to your acne problem), there are better alternatives. Toothpaste can really burn your skin AND most brands have sodium lauryl sulfate in the formulation – a known pore clogger. (See list of pore-clogging ingredients).
9. Myth: Moisturizer will make you break out.
Fact: Most people with acne are deathly afraid of moisturizers and with good cause! There ARE many moisturizers with pore-clogging ingredients in them. However, any product that is active enough to get your acne under control can and will be inherently drying/dehydrating. This means you will need to:
Start slowly with strong products to allow your skin to get used to them.
Use a sunscreen/moisturizer during the day to give your skin the moisture it needs so it doesn’t get completely irritated and dried out from your acne regimen.
Make sure the sunscreen and/or moisturizer you use is noncomedogenic (non pore-clogging).
Never use moisturizer over the top of benzoyl peroxide – it will stop it from penetrating the pore where it does the work of preventing acne from forming.
10. Myth: Products need to tingle or sting in order to know they are working.
Fact: While it’s true you need strong products to get acne under control, if they are too strong, that means your skin will eventually get too irritated and burned. Stinging = Burning!! At that point, you will have to stop all products that are working to get you clear and take a break for a few days. This will impede your progress of getting clear. Let your Acne Specialist choose the correct strength of product for your type of skin and your type of acne.
11. Bonus Myth: Accutane will cure your acne and you will never break out again.
Fact: We have scores of people come into our acne clinic who have taken Accutane (or its generic equivalents) who broke out again. Some took this drug not just once but several times (one woman took it seven times!). Isotretinoin (Accutane) can be a godsend for some people; but realistically, it’s not the silver bullet most people think that it is. And don’t let me get started about the health risks you incur if you choose to take it.