1. Always wash your face before bed. Not washing away the day’s grime? You’re asking for a breakout. Make washing your face a habit!
2. Don’t skimp on sudsing. Wash your face for 30 to 45 seconds with a dime-size amount of cleanser. That’s how long it takes to clear dirt and oil off your face.
3. Use lukewarm water when washing your face. Hot water dries out your skin, and cold water won’t open up your pores.
4. Be gentle. Scrubbing too hard leaves skin rough and red. Don’t fight with your face. Skip harsh scrubs and even washcloths, which can be too rough on your face and can cause irritation. Use your hands instead. Be sure they’re clean, or you’ll transfer acne-causing dirt and oil right back!
5. Don’t skip your morning wash. Hairstyling products get absorbed by your pillowcase then transfer to your skin—if it’s not cleared away in the A.M., it’ll clog your pores!
6. Exfoliate. The trick is to remove the layers of dead skin cells and dirt that are blocking your pores—and your skin’s natural glow. Products with alpha hydroxy and lactic acids exfoliate gently to make you look radiant. (Exfoliate in the shower. The steam helps open pores, so the grains can really dig out the grime!)
7. Use a clay mask. The ingredients will penetrate deep into your skin and clean out excess oil and bacteria. It’s also an exfoliator to open pores and get rid of the gunk clogged inside!
8. Step away from the pimple. Popping can cause infections, making the sitch worse.
9. Get a facial. A few appointments to set up a regimen, plus, check-ins every three to six weeks may get you in the clear!
10. Go easy on the zit cream. Benzoyl peroxide products are great at fighting pimples, but can be drying to your skin, so use them only once a day (or every other day). If it’s drying out or irritating your skin, switch out your cleanser for a gentle formula. (Keep up your regular acne spot treatment, but use just a dab!) It will clear away dirt and oil without stripping your skin of moisture. Salicylic acid (in creams, gels, astringents or masks) dries less than benzoyl peroxide, so it can be used with more-drying cleansers.
11. Don’t wait until you see a breakout to treat it. If you tend to break out on the reg, avoid flare-ups by using a benzoyl peroxide face wash, or by applying a thin layer of a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment to your whole face before bed. It will kill any bacteria that could cause zits to sprout.
12. Brush off breakouts. Make sure to wash your makeup brushes regularly with brush cleanser or baby shampoo. If you use makeup sponges, use disposable ones and discard them after each use. These tools can accumulate bacteria, which can lead to breakouts. Dirty brushes can make the most expensive skincare routines go to waste.
13. Keep your hair off your face. Oil, dirt, and product from your hair can get on your face and clog your pores. Keep hair totally clean and try to keep conditioner and other hair product away from your skin. And try to keep your hair off your face.
14. Stick with it. If you want great skin, care for it each day. Sporadic care won’t do it. And don’t expect any overnight miracles. It takes time for skin-clearing ingredients to kick in. Starting a skincare routine now will give you plenty of time for your skin to adjust by the time you walk through those double doors.
15. Moisturize. Acne treatments dry out blemishes and the rest of your face! Slather on an oil-free moisturizer with sunscreen every day to keep your skin smooth and protected. Choose an oil-free, noncomedogenic (non-clogging) formula.
16. Handle with care. Gently stroke on toner, moisturizer, medication and makeup. This saves skin and delivers the best coverage.
17. Use SPF daily. Sunscreen isn’t just for summer—your skin needs protection every day, even in winter. There are now sunscreens for every skin type imaginable—even ones that help make your skin less oily, so your face stays matte and pimple-free! Look for a daily moisturizer with SPF that says it’s “lightweight,” “oil-free,” or “oil-controlling.” For the highest level, look for a PA++ rating, it covers both UVA and UVB rays, so you’re guarded against everything from burns to future wrinkles!
18. Use toner on your T-zone. Your T-zone may be oilier, so it needs more love! Swipe the area with a cotton pad soaked in a toner that contains salicylic acid (it unclogs pores!) to get rid of extra gunk.