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5 Bad habits you need to break if you want clear skin

Brianne Grebil

I spent many years trying to figure out how to heal my acne, and I eventually made a career out helping women who have the same struggle.

A lot of things that can contribute to acne, and the last thing you want to do is make the problem worse. Unfortunately, I see a lot of people do just that without realizing it.

To help you avoid making similar mistakes, here are five of the most common skin care habits to break.

Using too many products

Many people think acne is a topical problem, so they rely solely on topical products. Products can help, but more doesn’t mean better.

Acne-prone skin is often sensitive to products and ingredients. The more you use, the more breakouts you’re likely to cause.

My tip: Keep to the basics. Use a gentle cleanser, a toner and a simple moisturizer. Use a spot treatment on occasion, and try to find products with as few ingredients as possible.

Constantly using harsh products

Still clinging to a topical solution, many people use harsh, aggressive products to fight acne.

Unfortunately, many of these products can cause inflammation in the skin, which triggers acne. These products leave skin vulnerable and less able to fight infection, and some products potentially causes as much acne as it treats.

My tip: Use milder products that promote healing, and save anything aggressive for occasional spot treatment.


The upper layer of your skin protects your skin and maintains the water and oil balance. Constantly stripping away that outer layer can lead to skin vulnerability, irritation and inflammation — which won’t help your acne.

My tip: Exfoliate no more than twice a week if you use a buffing exfoliator. If using a product that chemically exfoliates — such as with enzymes — use it for a few weeks, then take a week off. Always be extremely gentle if you have active acne.


Popping pimples has a lot of potential problems — and zero benefits.

The pore is already in a very delicate state, so popping it is likely to cause more damage and increase the likelihood of scarring. You may rupture the pore lining, pushing that “gunk” into the bloodstream, making the infection worse and irritating other pores around it. You could also permanently damage the pore opening, resulting in a larger pore that is more likely to have problems in the future.

My tip: Whenever you feel the urge to pop, try distracting yourself and doing something else with your hands. No joke, I used to kept bubble wrap in my bathroom so I could pop it instead of my pimples!

Analyzing every pore on your face

Another common habit for those with acne is constantly looking over every inch of skin. It’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing before going to bed.

You may think it’s helpful trying to decide if your skin is better or worse, counting how many new pimples showed up, debating if that pimple on your chin is bigger — but it’s not.

Over-analyzing your skin can create stress and anxiety, and stress leads to breakouts. So in a way, by constantly paying attention to your acne, you’re keeping it there.

My tip: Set a timer when you go into the bathroom that gives you just enough time to wash up. You’ll be less likely to hang around the mirror and analyze your skin. If you cannot resist the urge, seriously consider covering the bathroom mirror for a while. I had to do that!

Breaking these habits and following my suggestions will go a long way in letting your skin heal and prevent you from sabotaging your skin care efforts.

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