Since acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S., there’s a plethora of information out there about how to treat it. Sadly, a lot of that information is wrong. In our Debunking Common Acne Myths series, we’re bringing to light some of the misinformation about what causes breakouts.
Myth: Dirty skin leads to acne.
Contrary to popular belief, acne isn’t caused by dirt. Pimples form because a pore becomes clogged, which means it fills with sebum (aka oil), dead skin cells and bacteria. In fact, pimples form in the deeper layers of our skin, not at its surface. Even if your face gets caked in dust, you won’t necessarily break out — as long as you wash your face relatively soon afterwards.
In other words, dirt won’t make you break out unless it stays on the skin, mixes with sweat and irritates your skin, which can then clog pores.
So why is it important to wash your face twice a day? To clear out the sebum and dead skin cells from within your pores.
Myth: Washing my face many times a day will prevent breakouts.
Yes, washing your face in the morning and at night is crucial for ensuring your pores stay unclogged. But washing your face more than that is too much. Why? Because washing your face too frequently can actually irritate your skin, especially when you have acne. Scrubbing your skin too often or too aggressively increases redness and flakiness, and irritates the papules and pustules that are already present on your skin.
In other words, wash your face in the morning and before you go to bed, but do so gently — don’t over scrub! And, just as importantly, make sure you’re using acne-targeted skincare that will help treat current breakouts and prevent future pimples, too.
Learn the answers to other common acne questions:
Does eating oily foods make you break out?
Is having oily skin a bad thing? Is all sebum bad for our complexion?
Do common household products clear up acne?
Is it true that spending time in the sun will clear up my zits?
Does working out and heavy sweating cause breakouts?