10 Ways You’re Making Acne Breakouts Worse

Words by Janell Hickman

man checking face in mirror

Words by Jacqueline Laurean Yates

When it comes the big scary “a-word,” you know− acne, there has to be some real effort along with strategic planning put in place to make sure you stay in the clear. Along with a few sought after skincare experts, we broke down common mistakes most men fall victim to when it comes to everything from treating annoying zits to dealing with random breakouts. Scroll down to learn everything you need to know to avoid a repeated cycle of future blemish battles.


When it comes to treating your face, it’s better to avoid any kind of rough play, and instead keep things on the calm side. One issue that board-certified dermatologist and director of image dermatology, Dr. Jeanine B. Downie, points out is the unnecessary practice of overzealous face scrubbing. “Unfortunately, many men scrub their faces too hard.  This can irritate their skin causing dark patches or marks,” she says. Try a subtler approach by gently massaging with a powerful cleanser such as Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Acne Wash. The formula works to penetrate deep enough to prevent new breakouts and it’s affordable. Double win!


One common mishap that PCA Skin vice president of business and director of education, Danae Markland, often notices is a lack of consistency when it comes to treatments and daily care product use. “It is not uncommon for the skin to get worse before it gets better,” he says. Give your products time to actually work if you want to see real results. With continued use of products that contain acne-fighting ingredients (retinol and salicylic) such as PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment, you’ll eventually begin to notice a change in your skin.


We trust that you’re the type to keep up with your laundry duties on a weekly basis. And yet we understand that there might be weeks where you fall short. You’re busy, we get it. But even when you use that  free pass to ditch those weekly chores, there’s no excuse for using any unclean fabrics near your skin. Anything from dirty drying towels full of bacteria to sweaty baseball caps soiled with sweat and oil build-up, and even those grimy pillowcases, are all links to bacteria that can make acne breakouts worse. Do your skin a favor and make sure anything coming into contact with your face is fresh and germ-free.


Washing Face
If you already have a face routine that works well for you, that’s excellent! But, you have to remember to show the rest of your body some attention as well. “Acne may affect the chest, shoulders and back as well as buttocks significantly in some cases,” says Downie. Although these may not be typical places most of us automatically think to treat, it’s important to pay special attention to any areas that have lesions, discoloration or rough texture. Be sure to add a powerful body wash that not only cleanses, but also works double-duty to treat breakouts.


Whether it is your cleanser or your toner, make sure to use everything in moderation. “When products are over-used, or the wrong products are used, the skin’s natural barrier becomes stripped and compromised,” says Markland. “When you strip the skin of its barrier it can lead to increased inflammation and sebum production which can result in increased breakout.” To avoid creating this kind of cruel cycle, only use products as directed or suggested by the manufacturers or your dermatologists.


“Everyone is guilty of popping and picking at pimples− men especially,” says dermatologist and founder of MD Complete Skincare, Dr. Brian Zelickson. “Stick with a spot treatment that is gentle and hydrating,” he recommends. Most of us want the instant gratification of seeing a zit gone and out of the way. But for a far greater outcome, the best solution is to actually treat and get to the root of the problem. This way, you are not left with more problem skin to treat later. Practice patience and try MD Complete Breakout Spot Treatment to soothe and hydrate skin while it also repairs overtime.


Simply put, do your research. Often times, you may get in the habit of just using whatever is left in the bathroom or quickly slathering on products because you’re in a rush and trying to make a mad dash. Ready to keep acne breakouts at bay? Then you’ve got to do go the extra mile. “If you can’t get to a shower, pack some cleansing towelettes. Don’t use body wash on your face because it may clog your acne or be too harsh and drying,” says board-certified dermatologist and Director of Jessie Cheung MD Dermatology & Laser Center, Dr. Jessie Cheung.


If you’ve come to believe the natural oils your face produces is enough to keep your skin moisturized, you’re probably wrong. “Many men simply skip moisturizer, thinking it will make their skin oilier. Moisturizing the skin keeps it healthy and rebalances oil glands,” says Zelickson. To keep skin nourished and well-maintained, slather on Kiehl’s Facial Fuel SPF 15 for an abundance of moisture as well as protection from harmful UV rays.


Man exfoliates skin
So you’ve finally got facial wash down to a science, but somehow still skipping out on exfoliating? It’s time to make the smart choice, and Beth Bialko, Global Curriculum Developer for Dermologica highlights one huge reason. “Ingrown hair, which can occur after shaving when hair grows back at an improper angle can trigger an inflammatory response that includes redness, itchiness and a raised area that resembles a pimple that can fill with puss,” she says. To escape this kind of disaster, try a rich ingredient based exfoliant such as Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant to gently rub away dead skin cells and keep your skin smooth.


“I’d recommend a more preventative D-I-Y approach, and not wait for the actual pimple to appear, since the resulting hyperpigmentation can take a long time to fade,” says Cheung. How many times have you tried to treat a breakout that’s already spread like wildfire across your face? Not to say it’s too late to reverse any damage, but like anything else, it is a situation that could’ve been prevented by taking the right measures. Once you see the slightest little pimple, it just might be a wise idea to act sooner than later.