All skin types have their own sets of skin trials and tribulations, however, those with oily and acne-prone skin tend to face an array of challenges that are quite unique. For example, many of the key products that are designed to help maintain optimal barrier functioning and block out the sun’s harmful rays can often exacerbate oiliness and breakouts. “Often there is a concern that using a moisturizer or any additional products on the skin will make it just feel oilier or run the risk of clogging pores, explains Erum Ilyas, M.D., a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. “These skin types tend to focus on drying out the skin without realizing that a balance needs to be attained.”
For example, sometimes, to rid our skin of excess oil, we might be counterproductive. In fact, our skin needs a certain amount of oil to maintain a healthy skin barrier. When we strip it off too much oil, it tries to compensate by making even more oil. This oil can exacerbate breakouts, especially when combined with other not-so-helpful habits such as picking and popping.
Caring for oily or acne-prone skin doesn’t have to be as complicated as it feels like it is. The key is knowing how to take the best care of your skin in spite of its features. So the best way to get your skin in healthy shape is to avoid some bad habits that could be the hallmarks of your skin problems. Here, dermatologists share the worst habits of people with oily and acne-prone skin — and what to do instead.
Bad habit: Washing your face too often
When your skin feels super oily or you notice acne worsening throughout the day, you might think to give it a good cleanse, however, dermatologists warn against washing your face too often. Overwashing your face strips it of the natural oils it needs to maintain a healthy balance, and, as a result, causes it to produce even more oil.
Susan Massick, M.D., a dermatologist with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, recommends washing your face twice daily — once in the morning and once in the evening — using a gentle cleanser. “If you’re very oily, avoid oil-based cleansers and instead consider clay-based or medicated cleansers like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which helps remove the dirt, grime, sweat and sebum that may build up during the day,” she says.
Bad habit: Going to sleep with your make up on
You probably know to wash off your makeup before bed but may be guilty of nodding off before your nightly rinse. Try not to make this a habit, as not leaving your makeup on while you sleep increases the amount of bacteria on the skin and leads to a buildup of dirt and oil that can lead to worsening breakout and oiliness, according to Dr. Massick. She recommends cleansing before bed and using micellar water or cleansing balm to remove makeup.
Bad habit: Picking or popping your pimples
Picking, scratching, or squeezing pimples is a major no-no. In fact, Dr. Massick recommends doing all that you can to try to keep your hands off your face — period. “It’s easy to feel self-conscious when there is a big flare-up or a single large nodule that is painful, red, and sometimes coming to a head, that becomes difficult to cover up or hide,” she says. “But by picking or squeezing, you will only cause more inflammation in that lesion, which only leads to inflammation, more redness, more discoloration, and even permanent scarring or possibly worsening infection.”
Bad habit: Using way too many products at once
In an attempt to rid yourself of acne or oiliness, you might be willing to try every promising product under the sun; however, Dr. Massick warns against using too many different formulations at one time. “Believe it or not, you can over-strip the natural oils on the skin, which actually leads to an increase in oil production in some folks to replenish what’s been stripped away or an imbalance in the moisture of the skin, leading to more breakouts,” she says.
She recommends using hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free and oil-free products and maintaining a simple, easy, and consistent routine when it comes to skincare. Additionally, she advises her patients to be patient. “It can take 4-8 weeks to settle down from an acne flare, so your timeline may need to be adjusted from days to weeks when it comes to reassessing.”
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