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Easy Steps to Get Clear Skin- Treating and Preventing Acne and Breakouts

Updated on September 13, 2012

Getting Started

Skin is largest organ of the body. Since there are thousands of pores all over our bodies,which secrete sweat, dirt and are exposed to pollutants, our skin is bound to show signs of distress. If your breakouts are hormonal related, meaning they show up during menstrual cycles or during changes in your life then it is best to see a dermatologist to get a prescription. Topical treatments are not very affective on hormonal acne.

It is important to stay in a routine, and once you see results you won't want to stop! Stopping your routine could result in a flare up and you will be starting at square one all over again.

As a licensed Aesthetician, I am going to explain the most effective treatments so you can feel more confident in the skin you're in!


1. EVERY single morning and night you should be cleansing your skin. Night is the most important time of the day because your skin heals and rejuvenates itself while you sleep. If you are leaving filth and makeup on your skin while you sleep, it will severely clog your pores.

Choose a cleanser with salicylic acid in it. Salicylic acid will break up the sebum (oil) and dirt so that it will not clog your pores. Benzoyl Peroxide is ok, but can be very drying and cause irritation on the skin. Salicylic is slightly milder and more tolerable. For over the counter Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Cleanser will work just fine.

DO NOT use bar soap! It may seem to keep your skin clear but it strips your skin of all natural oils and creates oil to overproduce which will then cause worse breakouts! Face skin is much more delicate than the skin on your body.

Tone Twice a Day

2. Now that you have fresh clean skin, you need to tone. This is also best for morning and night. The best acne toners will tighten up your pores, clean up leftover dirt, help fade blemishes caused by acne and also help to treat acne. It is best to use a cotton pad or gauze when using a toner. For over the counter Neutrogena Rapid Clear-Fight Fade Toner will be be perfect!

Exfoliate Once a Day

3. Exfoliation is very important, it rids of dead skin cells that clog pores, smoothes out the skins texture and brightens the skin. This helps the process of cell turnover while your skin heals as you sleep so your skin can heal even faster. It is also great for those pesky blackheads that bury beneath our skin.

If your skin is pretty inflamed, stick to exfoliating once a day at night. Over exfoliation can cause more irritation. Neutrogena Skin Polishing Acne Cleanser is good because it a cleanser with salicylic acid and micro-beads.

How to Pop Your Pimple the RIGHT Way

4. When you hear don't pick your skin, that is correct. However, there is a right way to unclog your pores without damaging your skin.

  1. Wrap your index fingers in cotton gauze.

  2. Dip fingers with gauze on them into an astringent.

  3. Use the sides of fingers, not the nail or tip, that is what causes damage to the skin.

  4. Using the sides of your fingers, pull skin taut around your pimple and then push underneath the pimple wiggling your fingers back and forth until your pore unclogs. You are finished once blood starts to come out because you have gotten rid of the infection inside of the pore.

  5. Wipe anything that came out of pimple in a downward motion, pushing up will cause it to push into another pore.

  6. When finished use a little bit of an astringent on the area to kill the bacteria so it doesn't cause more breakouts.

This method is also what you would use on blackheads. Do not attempt to pop something if it doesn't appear to be ready, you will push the infection further into your skin causing it to get more inflamed.

Spot Treat Twice a Day

5. Now that your skin is smooth, and you've unclogged your pores, it is time to put a spot treatment on to dry up existing blemishes as well as the ones you just popped. Products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are good for spot treatments. You can also treat spots by dabbing toothpaste on them and let it stay on overnight if you don't have any spot treatment products.

For over the counter use, Neutrogena's On-The-Spot will do the job without drying out your skin. Apply this on your pimples as well as a thin layer on the areas that seem to break out the most. This is best to do at morning and night, and if it becomes to drying just apply at night only.

Hydrate Twice a Day

6. You may think you shouldn't moisturize if your skin is oily but you are incorrect. Keeping your skin hydrated will actually signal for your body to produce less oil. It won't feel the need to compensate for the moisture as much anymore because it's already hydrated. It is recommended to use a light oil-free moisturizer with SPF during the day and a medicated moisturizer at night for just a little extra treatment.

During the day Neutrogena's Oil-Free Moisture with SPF works just fine. At night try Neutrogena's Acne Stress Control 3-1 Hydrator. It contains salicylic acid and calm down the inflammation.

What You Should Avoid...

So, you now understand what you should be doing daily. But, what about what you shouldn't be doing? Here is a list of what not to do, so that you can get results with steps listed above.

  1. Putting your hands on your face. Keep them away as much as humanly possible! All the bacteria and dirt you've touched during the day will enter your skin if you keep your hands on your face causing breakouts exactly where you put your hands.
  2. Drinking and eating too much sugar. Try to eat healthier, what we eat shows through our skin. Not just through acne, but can also change the look and color of your skin if you eat healthier. Drinking water is very important to flush out those toxins.
  3. Picking. Running into your dates bathroom quick to pop your pimple is a bad idea. It isn't sanitary and all of that bacteria you just released is now all over your face. Also, it is very damaging to the skin when you pick and scratch without following the guidelines I listed. You can be scarred and get hyper-pigmentation on the skin.
  4. Oily Makeup. If you're using makeup with oils or heavy makeup that will never benefit you. It won't allow them to breathe and it keeps them clogged all day long! Choose makeup with no fragrance, talc, parabens and no oil.
  5. Oily Hair. If your hair is oily or sweaty that's just going to cause breakouts on the jaw and hairline. If it is a continuous problem try to keep hair pulled back or wipe off your hairline throughout the day with water or a towel.
  6. Over Drying. Many of us get so fed up that we try to use every product under the sun to try our skin out giving a squeaky clean feeling. If your skin squeaks, that's a problem. You just stripped all of your natural oils away so now your body is going to overproduce oil, it's going to cause your skin stress and then you'll have one massive breakout. Not to mention that drying your skin causes fine lines and wrinkles as well as dehydration.
  7. Going to bed with a dirty face. As I have stated, and will again, this is one of the worst things you can do. With proper cleansing and proper sleep your skin has the ability to heal overnight. When you leave that nasty dirt, free radicals from pollution, and makeup from work all day it causes breakouts, and it also will cause your skin to age much quicker. Get in a routine, even if that means doing your routine before you're ready for bed yet.

Dirt alone does not cause acne, however it is a myth if you read it does not contribute at all. Most of us can agree the few times we go to bed without cleaning our faces, typically result in broken out skin in the morning.

It is also a myth that diet is unrelated. What you eat secretes through your pores. Just as poor diet makes you feel ill, it also causes irritation to the skin.

Extra Tips

  1. For a little extra astringent, try using a lemon on your skin. Lemons kill bacteria. Make sure it is a lemon not lemon juice.
  2. Use a mask every week. You can purchase a sulphur mask and apply it once a week for a little extra clearing action. Or you can make your own acne mask with 2 egg whites and 2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt. Mix them up and apply to skin. Leave on for a few minutes and wipe off with warm water.
  3. Work up a good sweat. Sweating clears your pores and clears out toxins. Make sure to rinse your face when you're done so it doesn't just sit on your skin.
  4. Get a facial every 6-8 weeks for extra deep cleaning. Or get microdermabrasion done which will give a deep exfoliation and really help those breakouts.

Make Your Own Pore Strips

If all else fails, you may have hormonal or cystic acne. Medications and special treatments can help acne of a higher severity. Women can get on birth control to help regulate their hormones and men and women can get on topical, oral or laser treatments. Talk to a doctor or dermatologist if your acne is unable to be resolved.

Once your acne has subsided you can cut back on spot treatments and medicated lotions. It won't be necessary and could cause additional drying.

You will see results as long as you have patience and stick with your routine!


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