Image via Ayo Ogunseinde
By Shilpa Bhim
Picture this, you wake up in the morning and bounce out of bed to get ready for the day. You head to the bathroom to splash some water on your face and as you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror you notice a small cluster of pimples on your chin. You’ve been hit with a breakout [insert dramatic music of your choice]!
Breakouts affect basically all of us, and often at times when we really don’t want them to - like just before an event. While they can’t be fully avoided or controlled, there are some steps you can take to help prevent breakouts on your face.
Keep reading to find out our top 9 tips for happy, healthy skin!
1. CLEAN SKIN IS HAPPY SKIN
You know the drill, cleanse your face morning and night using a mild cleanser. Removing excess dirt, oil and sweat is key to keeping your skin clean and your pores clear, which helps to prevent breakouts.
But cleansing isn’t the only thing you need to do to keep your skin clean! It’s equally important to keep anything that regularly touches your face clean.
We’re talking about things like your bed sheets, pillow cases, makeup brushes, face towels and even your mobile phone. Be sure to wash/wipe down these items regularly if you want to avoid bacterial build up that could wreak havoc on your skin.
2. MOISTURISE ACCORDING TO YOUR SKIN TYPE
Moisturising helps to keep your skin hydrated and happy. However, using the wrong moisturiser for your skin type can lead to breakouts.
For example, if you have oily skin and use a moisturiser that’s comedogenic, you’ll end up blocking your pores. Or, if you have sensitive skin and use a moisturiser that’s packed with synthetic fragrances, you’ll likely irritate your skin.
Before you purchase or use a moisturiser, check what your skin type is, and whether the product is suitable for you. When in doubt, stick to products that are non-comedogenic.
3. LET YOUR SKIN BREATHE
As tempting as it may be, try and avoid using too much makeup to cover up your pimples as it can block your pores and exacerbate your breakouts.
If you do want to wear makeup, avoid super heavy or greasy products. David Lortscher MD, a board certified dermatologist from San Francisco recommends always reading the label on your makeup products.
“It's best to use only products labeled with terms such as non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, does not clog pores, or won't cause breakouts,” he says.
4. GET SOME SLEEP
They don’t call it ‘Beauty Sleep’ for no reason! When we don’t get enough sleep it not only affects our overall well being, but it also impacts our skin. This is often in the form of a dull complexion or breakouts.
Esthetician Renée Roleau notes that a lack of sleep induces overproduction of the hormone ‘cortisol’, which encourages our sebaceous glands to create more oil. This is often what leads to breakouts.
So, prioritise getting your eight to nine hours of sleep at night. Your skin will thank you for it.
5. LIMIT YOUR SUN EXPOSURE
Skincare expert Yen Reis highlights that summer weather can be quite harsh on your skin.
“Heat and humidity intensify oil production, which clogs pores with dirt and debris. This often leads to more breakouts during the summer months”, says Yen.
Our pro-tips? Limit your sun exposure and avoid being outside during the peak of the heat on a summer's day (usually from around 12 - 3pm). And, always wear SPF - all you Zovers knows that this is a tip we live by.
6. SHOWER AFTER YOU EXERCISE
Exercising and the increased blood flow that comes with it is great for your skin. But the sweat your body produces when you exercise actually sticks to your skin. The combination of heat and moisture on your skin is a breeding ground for bacteria and can lead to breakouts. So, be sure to shower right after you exercise.
Have a post-workout brunch session which means you don’t have time to shower after exercising? Wear loose fitting cotton clothing when exercising to allow your skin to breathe and give your face a quick wash (and apply some moisturiser + SPF) before hitting that smashed avo.
Always, and we mean always, remove your makeup before working up a sweat. Exercising with makeup on will only further clog your pores, a big no-no if you’re wanting to avoid getting breakouts.
Finally, if you have oily hair, keeping your hair clean and off your face helps to prevent breakouts, especially on your forehead.
7. BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU CONSUME
Firstly, you know what the experts say, drink around eight to ten glasses of water a day! Keeping your body hydrated can help with preventing breakouts. If you’re dehydrated, your body can signal to your skin’s oil glands to produce more oil. And oily glands tend to lead to breakouts.
Jeremy Fenton MD, a New York City based dermatologist, recommends avoiding foods high in sugars if you want to prevent breakouts. Specifically, he recommends steering clear of sweets, refined flour (e.g. white bread) and processed carbohydrates (e.g. pastries).
“The exact mechanism isn't known for certain, but we believe that these refined carbs lead to an insulin spike, which causes a hormonal cascade that can increase inflammation and oil production”, says Jeremy.
Jeremy also notes that dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese have been linked to breakouts in numerous studies. “Dairy has been shown to stimulate testosterone production in people who consume it, and spikes in testosterone can worsen acne”.
Not sure if what you’re eating is causing your breakouts? Try cutting out certain foods listed above for a week or two and see if there is any change in your skin.
8. TAKE IT EASY
We’re talking about your stress levels here.
Similar to a lack of sleep, high stress levels can induce an overproduction of cortisol which leads to breakouts.
As Renée Roleau notes, “this is the reason why in stressful periods, people experiencing an increase in acne get more inflamed, pus-filled papules than simple whiteheads or blackheads”.
So how does one keep their stress levels (and breakouts) at bay? Basically, take some time to do the things that help you to relax. Whether it’s a long walk outside, meditating, pilates, a bath or even watching Netflix! If you give yourself some time to wind down, your breakouts will likely wind down (and disappear) too.
9. TRY AN ACNE TREATMENT
Sometimes a targeted treatment is all you need.
Most over the counter treatments contain either benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or sulfur which help to shed dead skin cells and manage the oil in your skin.
If an over the counter treatment isn’t helping you with your breakouts you may need to seek professional advice via a dermatologist. They may prescribe treatment like retinoids or antibiotics to help manage and prevent your breakouts.