10 acne myths you need to stop falling for

Skin Health Advisor
Ask Felicity

15 October 2018

1 – Acne is caused by unclean skin

One of the most pervasive myths out there is that acne is in some way linked to your hygiene and, that by displaying acne symptoms, your skin is in some way dirty or unclean. Well, I’m here to have my say on the issue and my response is a resounding NO! Acne should never be taken as a sign of uncleanliness, although it’s easy to see how this myth became so popular. 

P.acnes are a type of bacteria that inhabit your sebum glands and can contribute to acne breakouts, leading to the idea that acne was somehow telling the world that your skin was dirty. This isn’t true as a number of factors can contribute to acne, from your hormones to your lifestyle and possibly your diet too!

On that note, it should also be added that acne won’t be cured by simply washing your face more – in fact, over-washing your face and over-exfoliating may just make acne worse, encouraging your skin to produce more sebum oil! That’s why it’s important to avoid scrubbing your face and to instead turn to more natural products, which leads nicely into our next myth!

2 – Makeup just makes acne worse

If you’ve ever suffered from acne, your first instinct is probably to reach for your makeup bag to conceal all evidence of spots and blackheads. This is natural and the chances are you’re still taking this route even if you’ve heard that applying makeup may just make acne worse. However, as I shall explain, this isn’t entirely true. 

You see, not all makeup is created equal and, while it’s true that some cosmetic products might clog your pores, if you’re label savvy when it comes to picking and choosing your beauty products you may be pleasantly surprised. Ideally, you should be aiming for makeup that contains more natural and organic ingredients and fewer chemical components such as parabens, alcohol and SLS which may upset or irritate your skin.

3 – Acne only affects teenagers

I’m not sure where this myth came from but there’s certainly plenty of evidence out there to dispel it! Yes, acne can be prominent during your teenage years due to all the hormonal fluctuations associated with this developmental phase but, according to NHS, 5% of adult women over the age of 25 and 1% of men will go on to develop adult acne.1  

This might not sound like many people in the grand scheme of things but it’s still a sizable minority that definitely shouldn’t be ignored or overlooked. A range of things can be linked with adult acne, from stress to genetics to hormonal changes such as the menopause. It’s not uncommon and trust me, you are definitely not alone!

4 – Boys are more prone to acne than girls

When it comes to acne, sometimes people wrongly assume that one gender or group are more predisposed than another which certainly isn’t true. Yes, teenage boys between the ages of 16-19 can be vulnerable to more serious outbreaks that affect different areas of their bodies such as the chest and back but this phase doesn’t always last. As I’ve just discussed above, susceptibility can change with age and, later on in life, women tend to be more vulnerable to adult acne than men! 

5 – Popping your spots will help

Spots can be awkward and uncomfortable so it’s only natural that you’d seek to get rid of them as soon as possible. Surely, if you simply pop the spot it will reduce its appearance and make it go away? Unfortunately, this definitely isn’t the case and sometimes all you may succeed in doing is encouraging inflammation and pushing more bacteria to the surface of your skin. Not ideal!

I should also take this opportunity to add that no, dabbing your spots with toothpaste is unlikely to help either! Just because toothpaste can dry out your skin doesn’t necessarily mean that it is some sort of home remedy for spots. In fact, this drying effect can easily irritate your skin leading to guess what – more inflammation! Instead, if you are looking for a product to treat your blemishes, you might be better trying a product natural ingredients such as tea tree oil and peppermint.

6 – Acne is contagious

An old one but yes, this myth is still out there tricking people into believing that acne, like chickenpox or the common cold, is somehow contagious. Yes, acne often involves the P.acnes bacteria but this cannot be transmitted to other people. Having acne is not the same as having a contagious bacterial infection so don’t be afraid to talk to or interact with other people!

7 – Sunshine will melt your acne spots away

Exposing your bare, unprotected skin to sunlight for a lengthy period of time is never a good idea. Yes, sunlight may temporarily reduce inflammation but the long-term ramifications definitely don’t make this short-term benefit worthwhile. 

Firstly, UV radiation, aside from causing sunburn, is a huge cause of premature ageing, heightening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Yes, sunlight can sometimes reduce inflammation but it also affects your immune system which your skin relies on to repel pathogens and bacteria. UV radiation is also an enormous cause of premature ageing, stripping away your skin’s natural oils and enhancing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

That’s why, if you are going to be out in the sun, we always recommend using suncream which brings me to my next point…

8 – Suncream clogs your pores

Similar to makeup, the rumour persists that suncream can clog your pores and increase your susceptibility to spots and other blemishes. Not only is this information completely untrue, but it also can also be dangerous as protection for your skin is essential for defending against the damaging effects of UV radiation. As I discuss in my blog, ‘How safe is your suncream?’ certain suncreams can sometimes contain abrasive chemicals but, as with makeup, it’s simply a matter of educating yourself and making sensible choices. The fewer ingredients, the better so again, natural, organic products might be a good compromise here!

9 – You shouldn’t moisturise acne-prone skin

When it comes to acne, your production of sebum oil does matter but that’s not an excuse to never use moisturiser. Just because your skin is oily, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is hydrated and, if your skin is dehydrated, it can affect the efficacy of your skin’s barrier function. This means that your skin is more likely to be irritated by pathogens and that any bacteria or viruses will find it easier to permeate your epidermis, penetrating deeper into your skin and possibly reaching your bloodstream!

So, yes, like all skin types, acne-prone skin still needs to be moisturised daily but, if you are concerned about using a thick, heavy cream, it might be best to opt for a lighter lotion that doesn’t have any artificial fragrances or synthetic colours.

10 – You can cure acne

I’m sorry to say that, despite what some brands might boast, there is no definitive cure for acne nor is there a miracle product that will make all your symptoms disappear forever. Acne may only last for a specific period in your life or it can be chronic, disappearing for years before suddenly remerging decades later. 

It’s not all bad news though. While there’s no cure for acne, the symptoms can be managed effectively by moderating certain aspects of your diet and lifestyle. Here at A.Vogel Talks Acne, we discuss some of the factors that can contribute to acne and how you can tackle them so I definitely recommend taking a look at some of our blogs, whether you’re looking for foods to help clear up your breakout or interested in natural, home remedies!




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