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The acne hacks: 6 top tips for preventing break-outs

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Here’s the dirt on acne: acne loves dirt.

Although acne is not fundamentally caused by dirt, it revels in a build-up of bacteria, sweat, sebum and all the stuff in the air around us that clings to our skin and weasels into our pores, spreading and worsening what is already a painful and often emotionally debilitating condition.

There are many products and treatments available to help combat acne once it hits – as it will for so many of us, for a variety of hormonal and genetic reasons – but there are a few easy things we can do in our day-to-day life to help prevent and limit break-outs.

Here are six simple hacks to help stop acne in its tracks:

Wash your make-up brushes: as a general rule, this should be done once a week, using warm water and shampoo until the water runs clean. It’s amazing how much gunk can build up on brushes that are neglected, which is then applied to the face. If you are covering current acne with makeup, use a brush cleanser with alcohol or dip brushes in an alcohol solution to help disinfect them and dry them quickly.

Change your pillow case: a few nights of lying on a pillow gives the fabric plenty of time to take in a collection of sweat, drool, skin oils, dust and moisturiser residue which can create a less than optimal environment for avoiding break-outs. We recommend changing your pillow case every few days, or daily if you have pustule acne.

Wipe down your phone: it’s no coincidence that people often have break-outs right where their phone is pressed to their face. Keep your phone clean of make-up, creams and sebum from contact with the face, or better yet, avoid pressing it to the face at all. Tight collars, workout bands and other things that rub and collect sweat should be kept clean or avoided also.

Cleanse after a workout: when exercising, sweat and sebum will gather on the skin, which is a good and natural process of the body. It’s less good if they aren’t washed away, but are instead given a chance to absorb back into your pores. Cleanse properly after working out, including your back and neck, which are common sites of acne. Be gentle with your skin – excessive force when washing can aggravate acne.

Take care with your hair: oil can be quite sticky, adhering to the things it comes into contact with, including your hair, and any nasties in the air. Having oily hair such as a fringe brushing against your face and spreading bacteria can be a source of irritation for inflamed skin. Likewise a shower cap if you are trying to keep your hair dry when washing – make sure the skin under the cap is cleansed properly and the band kept clean. Another consideration is hair products – be careful to avoid getting them on the skin as they can clog pores, resulting in a break-out.

Don’t pop or pick: the final and most important rule is not to squeeze or pick at inflamed skin. Chances are that you’ll drive pus deeper into the pore or spread the bacteria, while also causing trauma to the skin, risking longer healing periods, scarring and pitting. We know it’s tempting, but don’t do it!

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