If you believe that chocolate bar you scarfed down last night caused the giant red lump in the middle of your forehead this morning, think again. Toronto dermatologist Dr. Paul Cohen debunks the greatest acne myths.
Acne Myth 1
Acne is caused by poor hygiene.
The reality: “Acne is caused by multiple factors, including oil production by the oil gland, the blockage of pores, hormonal issues, and inflammation,” says Dr. Cohen, “so hygiene is not a problem.” In fact, overwashing your face can irritate your skin and aggravate acne. Stick to cleansing twice daily with a mild cleanser.
Acne Myth 2
Junk food causes you to break out.
The reality: “There is very little evidence that food will cause acne,” says Dr. Cohen. “But there is new evidence that some acne is related to milk or dairy intake—it is believed a lot of these products contain hormones that cause people to break out.” Although fried food isn’t a direct culprit, it is important to follow a well-balanced diet.
Acne Myth 3
Sunlight clears up acne and gets rid of scars.
The reality: “Sunlight will mask your acne, but in the long run it can actually make it worse,” says Dr. Cohen. Plus, UV rays increase your risk of skin cancer.
Acne Myth 4
Squeezing a pimple is allowed as long as you use a Q-Tip instead of your fingernails.
The reality: “Any way you squeeze a pimple there is a risk that you can leave a scar or cause an infection,” says Dr. Cohen. Instead, go see a facialist or apply a spot treatment and wait it out.
Acne Myth 5
Acne is only for teenagers. Your skin will clear up once you become an adult.
The reality: According to Dr. Cohen, 80-90% of people will have acne at some point in their lives (40% of adults have acne!). But don’t worry, just because you have acne now doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get adult acne.
Acne Myth 6
You have to wait until you grow out of acne.
The reality: “Treatments are available that can cure acne for some people,” says Dr. Cohen. “Some women actually need birth control pills [or antibiotics] to keep their acne under control.” Keep in mind it can take six to eight weeks for creams or medications to work, so you have to be persistent and give them a chance.
Dr. Cohen’s acne prescription:
- Wash your face twice daily with a mild cleanser.
- If your skin is very oily and isn’t irritated, use an exfoliator once or twice a week.
- Be sure your moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup are all oil-free.
- When choosing products, look for ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide (up to 5%) or salicylic acid (from 3-5%).
“Someone with severe acne should see a dermatologist,” says Dr. Cohen. Some over-the-counter treatments are excellent, but depending on the type of acne you suffer from, they may not be as effective as what your doctor can prescribe.
Written by Malena Ogryzlo-Harbers
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Noxzema Triple Clean Pads, $8
Bioré Pore MinimizingRefining Exfoliator, $13
Almay Clear Complexion Blemish Clearing Spot Concealer in Neutralizing Green, $11
Clinique Acne Solutions, Cleansing Foam, $23
NeoStrata Blemish Spot Gel, $22
Dermaglow Sensitive Rx, Anti-Redness Serum, $60
Maybelline New York
Pure Powder in Medium, $9
Garnier Skin Naturals Pure
Shine Control Moisturizer, $8
Neutrogena Advanced Solutions
Post-Acne Mark Fading Peel, $20