Acne academy, part 2: The biggest acne myths—ditch them to take your skincare routine to the next level

January 31, 2022

Coping with acne can be a serious emotional struggle—besides the discomfort that blemishes can bring, a survey found that 71% of severe acne sufferers reported it negatively impacted their body image, while 67% reported it lowered their self-esteem. Making it worse? Acne myths abound, and trying to Google our way towards the facts can be like finding a needle in a digital haystack of misinformation. Here, we bust a few big myths that keep sticking around to arm you with the knowledge to build your best acne routine.   

Acne myth #1: Cell phones cause acne

While bacteria are lurking on your phone, they’re not likely giving you acne. But that doesn’t mean our cell phones aren’t covered in pollution, oils, and debris. Similar to keeping your pillowcase clean, keep your phone clean with screen-safe wipes that can clear away dirt, bacteria and grime. 

Acne myth #2: Acne means your skin is dirty

Acne or oily-prone skin is not a sign of “dirty.” In fact, over-cleansing can cause skin to dry out, which leads to an over-production of oil that can cause a yet more acne. Talk about a bad catch-22. A skincare routine for acne-prone skin should include a balanced cleansing regimen (usually 2 times a day with an added cleanse after exercising or sweating) that doesn’t strip skin, while still fully removing dirt and residue.

When choosing the best face wash for acne, look for ingredients like salicylic acid to clear breakouts and hydrating ingredients to prevent over-drying. Creamy cleansers can be better for drier acne-prone skin types, and gel cleansers can be better for oilier acne-prone skin types. Most importantly, choose the form of acne cleanser that you’ll actually enjoy using! After cleansing, follow with a pore-clearing, purifying toner (and ensure it’s alcohol-free).  

Acne myth #3: Blackheads are actually dirt

Blackheads are simply oil and debris that have been exposed to air (aka, oxidized), like how a sliced apple turns brown when it’s exposed to air. Exfoliating products like AHAs (glycolic acid) and BHAs (salicylic acid) are the ultimate weapon against blackheads, as exfoliation helps clear out existing blackheads and removes dead skin cells to prevent them from getting trapped in the pore.  

When exfoliating, it’s important to be gentle to your skin. Overdoing exfoliating can cause irritation and disruption to your skin barrier, and increase skin sensitivity. Try incorporating an exfoliating product just a few times a week to get the maximum benefit, while avoiding irritation, and always wear a sunscreen moisturizer during the day.

Acne myth #4: I can stop using acne products when my breakouts clear 

Acne products are part preventative, part corrective and should be part of an ongoing skincare routine. An acne treatment is an especially important staple in your anti-acne arsenal, even if you’ve achieved blemish-free status. An ongoing spot treatment for acne or serum can help target breakouts that pop up from time to time, and a targeted post-acne scar treatment can be especially helpful in defending against stubborn acne scars and marks.

Acne myth #5: A routine for acne-prone skin doesn’t need to include moisturizer

Drying out skin is NOT an acne-clearing solution. As such, skipping moisturizer isn’t going to help you fight acne. Even the oiliest of skin needs hydration to support a healthy barrier that keeps hydration in and keeps irritants out. Ingredient innovations mean you can easily find an oil-free and lightweight moisturizer that absorbs fast and won’t clog pores.

More about acne here: 
Acne academy, part 1: The latest lowdown on acne, from new ingredients to basics you should never forget
Acne academy, part 3: The toner ingredients and hacks you need to know if you have acne-prone skin
Acne academy, part 4: The all-important cleanser and what to consider when choosing one

References for this information: 
PR Newswire Website, Cutanea Life Sciences, Inc.  
The Cleveland Clinic Website, Disease & Conditions  
Refinery29 Website, Beauty 

About the Author

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Jacki Marzano is SoCal-based storyteller and head copywriter at Murad Skincare. She's shaped the voice of some of the most recognized beauty brands in the business, has a penchant for sharing homemade cookies, and believes SPF is the secret to getting carded well into your 40s.