Biggest Mistakes People Make to Treat Acne:

  1. Post Biggest Mistakes People Make to Treat Acne:

    Part I: Avoiding Harmful Products

    When Buying Products

    Don't Buy Cleansers That:

    1. Contain harsh surfectants like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate.

    2. Are in bar form. These contain harsh cleansing agents like sodium cocoate, and the ingredients that keep them in bar form can be absorbed into the skin to clog pores. Also, many bar soaps have alkaline pH levels, which actually encourages bacterial growth.

    3. Are daily scrubs containing uneven particles like walnut . These can tear at the skin and cause irritation.
    Look for scrubs with smooth, round, bead-like particles.

    4. Contain waxy, pore-clogging thickeners. Products in cream form tend to have these.

    5. Contain animal oils*. Animal oils resemble human sebum and can clog pores similarly.

    4. Give a "tingly" or "cooling" feeling. That feeling is caused by skin irritants like menthol and camphor.

    5. Are medicated. If the medication contains a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid, the cleanser is almost certain to have too high of a pH (over 4) to allow it to act as an exfoliant. Chances are that the majority of any medictation used in a cleanser will be washed away before having any real effect. If you let a medicated cleanser (either one containing a chemical exfoliant or one containing benzoyl peroxide) sit on the skin in hopes of giving the medications time to penetrate, than chances are you'll also be allowing the cleansing agents time to irritate the skin.

    * Emu oil for some reason seems to be an exception according to users of this site.

    Don't Buy Toners or Astringents That:

    1. Contain drying alcohols, witch hazel, peppermint, or other skin irritants.

    2. Contain animal oils. (See "Don't Buy Cleansers That:")

    3. Contain rice or corn ingredients, as these can encourage bacterial growth.

    Don't Buy Salicylic Acid Products* That:

    1. Contain skin irritants like drying alcohols, witch hazel, peppermint, or other skin irritants.

    2. Have a pH higher than 4 or else the salicylic acid will not be an effective exfoliant. A good idea of a product's pH can be obtained with pH indicator strips.

    3. Contain rice or corn ingredients (See "Don't Buy Toners or Astringents That:")

    * Most salicylic acid products are not pH correct, contain irritants, or both.

    Don't Buy Benzoyl Peroxide Products:

    1. That contain skin irritants.

    2. To use in conjunction with prescription retinoids (with the exception of adapalene which is used in Differin). Benzoyl peroxide renders most retinoids unstable and should be applied only in the morning if a prescription retinoid is being used at night.

    3. Contain animal oils. (See Don't Buy Cleansers That:")

    Don't Buy Tea Tree Oil Products That:

    1. Contain skin irritants.

    2. Have less than a 5% concentration of tea tree oil, or more than a 15% concentration. Too little tea tree oil is likely to be ineffective, and too much may be irritating. You can, however, buy pure tea tree oil and dilute it, so long as you aim for the right concentration.

    3. Contain animal oils. (See Don't Buy Cleansers That:")

    Don't Buy Moisturizers That:

    1. Are in cream form. (See "Don't Buy Cleansers That:")

    2. Contain animal oils. (See "Don't Buy Cleansers That:")

    3. Contain rice or corn ingredients. (See "Don't Buy Toners or Astringents That:")

    4. Contain skin irritants.

    Don't Buy Sunscreens That:

    1. Are in cream form. (See "Don't Buy Cleansers That:")

    2. Contain animal oils. (See "Don't Buy Cleansers That:")

    3. Contain rice or corn ingredients. (See "Don't Buy Toners or Astringents That:")

    4. Do not contain avobenzone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, mexoryl sx, or tinosorb; the ingredients recognized by the FDA to provide adequate UVA protection.

    5. Do not have an SPF of 15 or higher.

    6. Contain skin irritants.

    In General

    1. Don't use products that contain skin irritants. Skin irritants prematurely kill skin cells, littering the skin with more dead skin cells than it can naturally slough off, thus creating a greater risk of clogged pores. Skin irritants also interfere with the skin's healing process, which can result in an increase in bacteria.

    Some common skin irritants are:

    Alcohols. Ethanol (grain alcohol), denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl, and SD alcohol should be avoided. (Exceptions: Ingredients like cetyl alcohol or stearyl alcohol are fatty alcohols. Some alcohols like SD alcohols can be used in small amounts. An ingredient is in a small amount if it appears at the end of an ingredients list).
    Balm mint
    Bentonite (can be used in the occasional clay mask, but avoid frequent use or formulations which contain other "actives")
    Benzalkonium chloride (if it is one of the main ingredients)
    Benzyl Alcohol (if it is one of the main ingredients)
    Citrus juices and oils
    Clover blossom
    Essential Oils
    Fennel oil
    Fir needle
    Fragrance (may be listed as "Parfum")
    Melissa (lemon balm)
    Menthol, Menthyl Acetate, and Menthyl PCA
    Oak bark
    Sandalwood oil
    Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfate
    Sodium lauryl sulfate
    TEA-lauryl sulfate
    Witch hazel

    2. Don't base your use of a product on whether or not it says "non-comedogenic," "oil-free," "hypo-allergenic," "dermatologically tested," and similar terms. These are flashy marketing terms that have no regulations, therefore, they can mean anything. As mentioned earlier, products with waxy thickeners and animal oils (not plant oils) are most likely to clog pores. Mineral sunscreen ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can clog pores, though synthetic sunscreens like avobenzone can irritate the skin of certain people and also trigger breakouts. Everyone is different and will be sensitive to different ingredients, so there is no real way of knowing what will or will not clog pores, just what may clog pores. One other thing- acne can take two weeks to form, so if you break out right after starting a product, don't assume that product was the culprit.

    3. Don't use specialty products (chemical exfoliants, moisturizers, etc...) that are in jar packaging to minimize air exposure. Oxygen can render certain ingredients unstable. Also, with jar packaging, there is a concern for product contamination. Sunlight can also render certain ingredients unstable, so if you buy a product in clear packaging, be sure to store it in a dark space (such as a medicine cabinet or drawer).

    4. Don't assume that the stronger a product (i.e. the higher the concentration of an active ingredient), the more effective it will be. Using a product that is too strong for you may cause irritation that can worsen acne. What is a good strength varies by person.

    5. Don't assume that naturally-occurring ingredients are better for your skin. As can be seen by the list of common skin irritants above, there are plenty of ingredients both man-made and naturally-occurring that can be irritating to the skin.

    6. Don't touch your face if you can avoid it so as to prevent the spread of contaminants.

    7. If you have trouble with inflammatory acne, change your bedding often (once a week), and keep anything that touches your face frequently (like a phone or washcloth) clean and disinfected to prevent the spread of contaminants.

    8. Don't use makeup testers on your face to prevent the risk of contamination.

    9. Don't apply your moisturizer over areas of your face that are not dry. Applying moisturizer where it is not needed can increase the risk of clogged pores by mixing with excess sebum and "gluing" dead skin cells to the skin's surface.

    10. Don't tan. Tanning only temporarily masks acne, damaging the skin in the process, which can actually lead to a worsening of acne. Even if tanning did help, it's not worth the risk of skin cancer, premature aging, cataracts, cellulite, and rosacea associated with unprotected sun exposure.

    11. Don't steam the skin or rinse with hot water as this can cause irritation and capillaries to surface. It is best to wash with luke-warm water.

    12. Don't give up on a new regimen. You need at the very minimum one month and preferrably two to see results. When using prescription retinoids, you need at least three months.

    13. Don't over-scrub the skin as this can cause irritations. It is best to use gentle, circular motions. When drying the face, pat the skin dry as opposed to rubbing it dry.

    14. Avoid doing anything to aggravate a pimple. It may be beneficial to pop one provided the pimple is ready to pop, but only apply light pressure. Never squeeze, scratch, or pick at it. If light pressure does not release the contents of a pimple, you will likely worsen it should you increase that pressure.

    15. Don't use more than one method of exfoliation at once. For example, don't use a scrub followed by a salicylic acid product, or a salicylic acid product followed by an alpha hydroxy acid product. You risk over-irritating the skin.

    16. Don't generously apply products (with the exception of sunscreen, which should be generously applied). Usually only a dime-sized amount / thinly applied layer is all that's needed for the entire face. Over-applying products can be harmful to the skin.

    17. Be happy! Who knows, your skin might even get clearer as a result. If not, it's better to have acne and be happy than it is to have acne and wallow in gloom.

    ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________

    Part II: Building a Regimen

    Here are some products you could use to help build your own customized regimen, which are also listed in the responses below.
    I recommend building a basic regimen that includes at the minimum these steps:

    1) Cleansing with Lukewarm Water
    2) Exfoliating
    3) Disinfecting (If You Have Inflammatory Acne)
    4) Moisturizing Dry Areas Only (Nighttime)
    5) Applying Sunscreen to All Exposed Areas of Skin (Daytime)

    You can also include other steps in your regimen, like the application of toners which don't contain chemical exfoliants (not that toners containing chemical exfoliants shouldn't be used if that's your method of exfoliation) or of retinoids. Also, you don't have to apply all these products at the same time; for example, you can exfoliate as often as twice a day or as little as once every other day. You should, however, cleanse twice daily.

    Something I want to make very clear is that I am not advertising a cure for acne. The above mentioned steps follow skin care basics and are beneficial to most people. Subsequently, using a regimen following these steps may result in clear skin, but it may make absolutely no change whatsoever. If you use the wrong products or can't tolerate certain steps like exfoliation or certain types of ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, it might even make your skin worse. If you're looking for a starting point to treating acne or have been following a damaging skin care routine and want to stop, I definately recommend giving such a regimen a chance, but I don't want to give anyone false hope that their acne will disappear from following it. You may have a stubborn case of acne that is beyond the help of over-the-counter treatments, in which case I advise you seek a dermatologist's help. I also want to stress that the treatments I recommend below are not the only decently formulated products out there (though the salicylic acid products I listed are the only ones I know of that are both pH correct and gentle).

    Some cleansers you may want to consider are:

    Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Mild Formula
    Eucerin Baby Aquaphor Gentle Wash
    Eucerin Redness Relief Cleansing Gel
    Paula's Choice (any cleanser)
    Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash

    Some manual scrubs you may want to consider as exfoliants are:

    Essential Nutrients Daily Exfoliating Cleanser with Soft Massage Beads
    Nivea for Men Energizing Face Scrub (women can use this too)

    Some toners (not containing chemical exfoliants) you may want to consider are:

    Biotherm Biosensitive Soothing Refreshing Spring Mist
    Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion*
    Derma E Pycnogenol Facial Toner, Fragrance Free
    Nivea Visage Moisturizing Toner
    Paula's Choice Toners

    *This contains about a 0.5% concentration of salicylic acid at a pH of around 4, making it minimally effective for exfoliation, though you probably won't notice a significant difference in your skin due

    Some salicylic acid products you may want to consider as exfoliants are:

    Bare Vitamins Skin Rever-Upper (if it really has a pH of 3.8, as the company claimed in an e-mail)
    Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion
    Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Anti-Blemish Daily Moisturizer
    Paula's Choice 1% or 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid products*
    Serious Skin Care Clarifying Treatment

    *Paula's Choice makes by far the best salicylic acid products

    Some benzoyl peroxide products you may want to consider as disinfectants are:

    Dan's Clear Skin Regimen Gel (2.5%)
    Jan Marini Skin Research Benzoyl Peroxide (2.5%)
    Mary Kay Acne Treatment Gel (5%)
    Oxy Balance, Sensitive Skin Acne Treatment, Vanishing Formula (5%)
    Paula's Choice Blemish Fighting Solutions (2.5% or 5%)
    Persa-Gel 10, Maximum Strength (10%)
    Zapzyt 10% Benzoyl Peroxide

    Some tea tree oil products you may want to consider as disinfectants are:

    Derma E Tea Tree and Antiseptic Cream* (5%)
    Desert Essence 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil (diluted; aim for between a 5 and 15% concentration in your mixture)

    *This product is in jar packaging, so the vitamin E and other antioxidants won't be stable, but the tea tree oil should work. It is also in cream form, which users may want to be wary of.

    Some over-the-counter retinol* products you may want to consider are:

    Diacneal with 6.4% Glycolic Acid
    Green Cream
    Jan Marini Factor-A Lotion
    Makeup Artist's Choice Retinol Serum (which comes in clear packaging, so store it in a dark place)

    *Products containing retinol do not necessarily produce similar results to prescription retinoid products

    Some moisturizers you may want to consider are:

    Dove Sensitive Essentials Daytime Lotion (no SPF)
    Green Canyon Spa Skin Barrier Serum
    Malibu Hemp Moisturizer Body Lotion for Dry Skin
    Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Moisture Gel
    Zia Natural Skincare Herbal Moisture Gel

    Some sunscreens you may want to consider are:

    Clinique Super City Block SPF 25 Oil-Free Daily Face Protector
    Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protector
    M.A.C. Daily SPF 15 Light Moisture
    Neutrogena Active Breathable Sunblocks
    Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry-Touch Sunsblocks
    Proactiv Solution Oil-Free Moisturizer with SPF 15

  2. Also do not touch the acne or pimple or even your face. Apply honey or ice on the acne or pimple to get rid of it.
    Going organic has revealed a lot of benefits for individuals especially when it comes to their health and skin.

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