Thanks to the acne-positivity movement, you’re loving your pimples these days… except when you’re not. After all, this sort of confidence and self-love might be #goals, but it’s not always #reality. Sometimes, you’d do anything to get rid of the blemishes inhibiting your Bumble activity, and by that I mean anything.
As it turns out: Some—okay, many—of these desperate attempts at eradicating acne are doing your skin more harm than good. Below, dermatologists weigh in on some of the things you might be trying at home that they really, really wish you wouldn’t.
Keep reading to find out why you should stop believing these 6 zit-busting myths, stat.
1. Toothpaste can totally dry out your oily blemish
Dermatologists are generally baffled by the origin of this myth, as applying toothpaste to your skin—period—is not a good idea. In fact, it will only increase the inflammation that led to the outbreak in the first place. “The pH from toothpaste does not correlate to the pH of your skin, and it can lead to irritation and crusting,” says Danbury, Connecticut-based dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD.
2. Extractions are good, so popping must be, too
You don’t even want to know what Dr. Gohara told me is lurking under our fingernails—seriously. Suffice it to say that prying at your zits with them is a pretty terrible idea, so if you can’t resist the urge to pop, reach for the sterilized equipment used in professional extractions. “It’s so precise that it can usually just get the pus out which is kinda like the peak of the zit, the pointy part, so it can just liberate it as opposed to smashing on the whole thing,” she explains.
And while popping your pimples might feel satisfying, New York City-based dermatologist Doris Day, MD says that it’ll do nothing at squelching your breakout more quickly. “Getting all the contents out won’t make it go away faster,” she says. “A lot of what you see in and around the pimple is swelling. This is fluid that is in between cells, not in the pore itself. The more you pick and squeeze, the more swelling there is and the worse the pimple or cyst becomes.”
3. Witch hazel is a zit-busting astringent
I was a witch hazel devotee in my acne-prone days, but Dr. Gohara is not a believer. “I’m not a witch hazel fan,” she says. “It rips your barrier to shreds so it has less of a fighting chance to get rid of a zit.” There are some, however, who—as I once did—believe in its power as a skincare ingredient without simultaneously dehydrating your skin.
4. Rubbing alcohol can clean your skin
Not so much, says Dr. Day. “This does nothing to the bacteria that causes acne, yet patients think it will clean the skin, decrease oiliness, and make a pimple go away faster,” she says. “In reality it dehydrates the skin, makes it red and sensitive, and can make the pimple look worse.” If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re not wrong—stripping the skin of moisture does not seem to be the key to pimple reduction. Noted.
5. Sun exposure will reduce breakouts
“I have many patients who get a tan because they feel it makes their skin look clearer and helps breakouts,” says Dr. Day. (*Raises hand*) “The reality is that over time sun exposure can make scarring worse because it breaks own collagen, dries the water out of your skin, and makes you look older, and all of that on top of increasing your risk for skin cancer.”
6. Hydrogen peroxide
Remember when mom used to use this on every “ouchie”? According to Dr. Day, you shouldn’t exactly follow in her footsteps. “This will have no effect on the pimple and can slow healing,” she says.
With these debunked, you may be looking for a new miracle cure. Get in line for this pimple patch with a 3,000 person waitlist or try these dermatologist-approved treatments.
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