A number of factors can cause acne, pimples and breakouts. Most notably, hormonal fluctuations in your teens and adolescent years, but everything from dirt and bacteria, to stress and an unhealthy lifestyle, can worsen acne well into your adult life. So, what steps can you take to help prevent acne every day?
As with most things in life, there are more drastic intervention options that can help alleviate the problem. But it’s always best to get the basics right, first. Here are 10 ideas for daily habits that will go a long way toward alleviating your acne and breakouts.
- Cleanse and moisturise
If it feels like you’ve been told to cleanse and moisturise properly every day like a million times, it’s because these two steps really are the most effective basic steps towards managing pimples. Cleansing twice daily with an optimised cleanser – that gently exfoliates, like one containing salicylic acid, for example – will already start making the world of difference. Consider a specialised cleanser like Lamelle Clarity Active Cleanse. It not only contains salicylic acid but also tea tree and a host of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredients that initiate the healing process already while you cleanse. And, although moisturising may feel counter-intuitive because you’re afraid it’ll make your skin feel oilier, it’s actually quite the opposite. All skins need daily moisture. Acne-prone skin is no different. What you might want to do is to look at specialised moisturisers such as Clarity Corrective AM (for morning use) and Clarity Corrective PM Plus (for the evening) to calm, soothe and nourish your skin – without leaving it oily.
- Wear minimal make-up
It’s an unfortunate fact that most make-up will, by nature, turn your skin into an ideal breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Make-up literally covers parts of the face, already blocking pores, attracting and trapping impurities on the surface of your skin. In fact, the make-up you might be wearing to cover up your spots usually plays a big part in new pimples developing in your skin.
What’s more, make-up often comes loaded with a range of chemicals and ingredients that may make your acne flare up. Use it very sparingly.
- Stop touching your face
It seems like such a simple thing. No one touches their face intentionally, right? And yet, studies have shown that a large portion of diseases and infections spread exactly because people habitually touch their faces with their hands. Which wouldn’t be a problem if your hands weren’t the parts of your body that you chiefly use to interact with the world around you. The gunk collected on door handles, the bacteria on the elevator button, the impurities on your keys and every surface you come into contact with all end up on your face even if you just briefly brush your fringe out of your eyes.
Make it a conscious effort to never, ever touch your face. Carry wipes or hand sanitiser with you, so you can clean your hands before bringing them anywhere near your face.
- Pay close attention to your hair care
You can thank gravity and its proximity to your face for this golden rule: your hair plays a major role in your facial hygiene and skin function. If you have bangs, they’ll touch your facial skin from time to time. And, even if you don’t have a fringe, the products and general cleanliness of your hair has a dramatic effect on pimples on your forehead, jaw, neck and back.
Dirty hair will cause breakouts on your skin, but using shampoo and conditioner with harsh chemicals can also upset the delicate balance in your facial skin. So, opt for gentle, quality hair products and wash regularly. Also, be sure to rinse out your shampoo and conditioner very thoroughly and always cleanse your face after washing your hair.
What you use to style your hair is also important. Sprays, gels and oils with harsh chemicals will irritate your facial and neck skin, aggravating acne infections. Choose gentle, natural products every time.
- Prioritise sun protection
Studies have shown that a little bit of sun can be good for getting rid of minor breakouts and blackheads. But beware: spending lots of time in the sun does the exact opposite. Sun damage is known to make acne flare up, so keep your sun protection and moisturiser handy.
That said, be sure to use sun protection that’s specifically formulated for your face (they tend to be lightweight and less oily, which is good news for acne-prone skin). Consider a specialised sunscreen, like Lamelle Luminesce Brighter Defence 30 (which has the added benefit of brightening and reducing hyperpigmentation) or Nourish Multi-Active Sun (with the bonus advantage of fighting ageing and preventing DNA damage).
- Exercise regularly
Yes, we know. But your body is a whole. It’s an inseparable unit and the fact is that the better you maintain it, the better it functions all round. Daily exercise improves blood flow (crucial for helping the skin fight acne), gives you more energy, releases feel-good endorphins and promotes general wellbeing.
More importantly, when you sweat, your body gets rid of the impurities that cause acne. If you exercise and drink lots of water (see point 8 below), your body flushes all the acne-causing baddies out of your system, faster. Just remember to take a quick shower after exercise to rinse the toxins off your skin (Capetonians can consider a quick jump in the ocean or 5-second rinse amid the water crisis, followed by moisturiser).
- Get sleep smart
You have to get at least six to eight hours sleep a night. That’s not negotiable because your body heals and cleans your cells during sleep, which does miracles for clearing up acne. But you might also want to take extra notice of your pillowcase. Think about it, it’s right up against your face for hours every night. It most likely collects a lot of skin and impurities every time you sleep on it. So, change your pillowcase as regularly as possible.
Also, watch what detergents you’re using to wash your bedding. Harmful chemicals are no good for acne-prone skin, so consider switching up to a more natural washing powder and fabric softener.
Plus, if you can train yourself to sleep mainly lying down on your back, you can minimise your facial skin’s contact with the sheets – that’ll help keep your skin clean and clear.
- Eat healthily and drink as much water as possible
Again, your body is a whole. What you put in is what you get out. Studies have shown that dairy, greasy foods and what we generally call junk food (oily, sugar-rich ad carbo-loaded food and soft drinks) can have a dramatic effect on pimples. Here’s a fun little test. If you touch food, getting its juices all over your fingertips, ask yourself if you’d touch your face with those same fingers. If not, then don’t eat the food. You might not want to touch yourself with oily French-fry fingers, but a little bit of strawberry juice actually sounds quite nice. See where this is going? Healthy, crisp and fresh foods are inevitably going to be better for your wellbeing and your pimples too!
Plus: did you know that minor food allergies will show up as acne first? You might not even know that you’re allergic to something. But, every time you eat it, it’ll show up in your skin as pimples. Thus, persistent could call for an allergy test.
- Focus on reducing your stress levels
Studies have linked acne flare-ups (and their severity) to stress in the body. That’s why it’s important to learn to manage your stress. Exercise is a good stress reliever, but you might also want to learn to practice a mindfulness exercise or perform a low-impact exercise like pilates or yoga to help you cope with the pressures of everyday life.
Also, know your stressors, so that you can plan for them. If you know a big exam or work deadline is coming up, remember to take a little bit of extra care of your skin during that time.
- Clean your phone and sunglasses
This is a bit a ‘duh’ one. But when you take or make calls on your phone, you obviously hold it up against your face. So, you’re transferring dirt or impurities from your phone to your face – eww! Make it a habit to wipe down your phone with sanitiser every day. It’s the same with your sunglasses (which most of us never clean).
BONUS: See a specialist
Acne and pimples are so common, that it’s really one of those things where an experts help will go such a long way. It’s more than worthwhile to book a personal consultation with a dermatologist or skincare therapist, as they’ll assess your skin and give you a tailor-made acne solution.
A professional will give you access to solutions you simply cannot buy over the counter. For example, she might prescribe an oral solution, like Lamelle’s lauded Acnevelle capsules along with a complete and customised Clarity home-care solution.
It’s still early in 2018, so, in case you missed it, we recently did a complete guide to starting the year off zit-free. And, for those wanting to avoid embarrassment on a special or romantic occasion, we also have an ultimate pre-date pimple emergency plan.