Top 10 Acne Myths

  1. Dirt causes acne. People with acne don’t have dirty skin.  They have acne prone skin.  Acne is a process that results from excess oil mixing with dead skin cells to form a “sludge” that blocks or clogs the opening of the follicle or pore at the skin’s surface.  Many people who suffer with acne wash their skin at least twice a day and many people with clear skin only wash their face once daily or not at all.  Dirt is not a contributing factor for acne!


  1. Only teenagers and young people have acne. The truth is that acne can affect anyone, male or female at any age!  Now, it is certainly true that teens in the midst of puberty typically struggle more with acne, but some of these people never get better and continue to struggle with acne as adults too.  This is because puberty is a time of a lot of hormonal changes that stimulate oil production in the skin.  But acne is also a genetic process which means that some people are more prone to have acne throughout their lifetime and not just when they’re young.
  1. Acne is just a cosmetic problem. Acne absolutely affects the way you look.  BUT, the effects of that are much more far reaching.  Many people who suffer with acne avoid social, professional and athletic activities because of it.  It can be a source of anxiety, embarrassment and low self-esteem.  While acne does affect your appearance, it can also have an effect on your emotional and psychological well being that lasts a lifetime.
  1. Spot treatments work to fix acne. Spot treatments are usually creams or gels that you can buy to dab onto your acne.  They usually contain benzoyl peroxide, which is a great medication that kills P. acnes, the bacteria that can be involved in acne.  But unless you have the specific type of acne bumps that are “open” which allow the benzoyl peroxide to penetrate and do its job, then it won’t work for you.  It also doesn’t do anything to keep new pimples from forming.  So you often just end up chasing every new breakout with these types of treatments.
  1. Food causes acne. This one gets a lot of attention.  It would be great if we could just eliminate this or that and fix acne.  And yes, I’m sure you notice when you eat “whatever”, you’re acne gets worse.  But this statement has been looked at and put to the test in many good, scientific studies and just not found to be true at all.
  1. Makeup causes acne. So this one has a bit of truth to it.  Makeup alone doesn’t directly cause acne, but certain ingredients have been shown to make someone who’s prone to acne worse.  These are ingredients to avoid if you have acne:  lanolin, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, propylene glycol, alcohol, isopropyl myristate, mineral oil and parabens.  Also, another good rule of thumb is to use products that only say “non-comedogenic”, “oil-free” or “hypoallergenic”.
  1. Sweating cleans out your pores. It is true that sweating opens up your pores, but it doesn’t really do anything to clean them out.  In fact, exercising will make your body make more oil by stimulating your sebum glands.  So your acne may get worse!  Because of this, it’s important to rinse or wash the excess oil and dead skin cells from the skin’s surface to help prevent a flare up.  If you have your skin occluded with something (hat, headbands, padding or gear) you may notice your acne gets worse in that area as occlusion speeds up this process.
  1. Getting some sun is good for your acne. This one is interesting.  Light does have a negative effect of bacteria, and there are some specific light-based treatments for acne that can help it get better.  Sunlight (or a tanning bed) though is not really one of these.  In fact, the harm you can do to your skin far outweighs any benefit you might see.  While your acne might get better now, you could put yourself at risk for skin cancer, sunspots and premature wrinkles down the road—not a good trade-off!
  1. Scrubbing the skin clean prevents acne. Remember, acne isn’t caused by dirty skin.  And yes, it’s good to remove excess oil, bacteria and dead skin cells with proper cleansing, but overdoing it can backfire on you.  Acne is an inflammatory skin condition.  Anything that inflames the skin will make it worse.  Scrubbing (and abrasive scrub products) will irritate your skin.  Your acne will flare. Also, remember that the more you wash away the oil, the drier your skin will get. If your skin is dry, your body will try to make more oil. More oil equals more acne!
  1. Stress causes acne. Stress may aggravate your acne because it can trigger certain hormonal changes that may increase your oil production. Cortisol, the “stress hormone” definitely stimulates the sebaceous glands, but it isn’t the only reason that you will see breakouts.
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