How to Prevent Acne: 8 Expert Tips to Save Your Face

Kristin Booker

how to stop acne

If you suffer from breakouts, you know how maddening they can be. You wake up one morning, birds are chirping and then suddenly, there it is: A minefield of acne running across your face. Now you have to deal with that today.

What if there were ways to try and keep the breakouts at bay, to stave them off from coming at all? We turned to Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, to give us some real advice on how to keep breakouts at bay. Here are some of the good doctor’s tips on how to do your best to avoid your skin erupting into acne at all the wrong times (which is all the time).

Wash your face: Wash your face twice a day. Don’t forget to take your makeup off. Use a cleanser that meets your skin type (gel for oily, creamy for dry skin, etc.). Washing your face helps remove the dirt and debris that can clog pores. If you’re so tired you don’t feel like getting out of bed to wash your face, keep a pack of makeup remover wipes next to your bed, and at the very least just swipe your face to cleanse your skin of makeup and debris. This isn’t ideal all the time, but if it’s the best you can do for the night, it’s better than nothing.

Put on the peels: Additionally, at the end of the summer, your skin tends to be very dry and it tends to have had a little too much exposure to the sun, so there’s dullness. It’s always a great idea to do a light peel and exfoliation. There are so many good glycolic and salicylic acid peel products available at every level of the market from mass to prestige, and you can do the peel right at home. A good peel helps tighten pores and just refresh the skin in a way that gives you an instant glow. Plus, they can help you see a difference right away and they help keep the skin fresh and unclogged.

MORE: How to Get Rid of Acne Overnight: 8 Treatments That Work

Wear sunscreen every single day: This one goes without saying. The SPF has to be higher in summer months, which means keeping a higher sun protection factor on your skin well into late September. The sun’s rays can cause serious damage, and if you’re doing the peels as directed above, it’s absolutely vital to use sunblock to protect your gorgeous, newly-glowing skin, which is susceptible to damage.

Time your products well: Your skin works in circadian rhythms, which decides the pH balance of your skin during different times of day. During the daytime, your skin operates at a ph of 5.3, which is when the microflora operate the most successfully and the skin produces the most sebum to protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays and environmental conditions. This is when a sunscreen is vital to not only help protect your skin from the rays of the sun, but also to help keep sebum production in check.  Conversely, your skin works at a lower pH at night (around 4.9 ), which is consistent with the renewal process. This is the when Retinol-based products are best used, to help the skin renew and refresh itself.

MORE: How to Get Rid of Acne

Mind your diet  and, of course, drink lots of water: Diet is super important. A lot of the studies show that college students eat more sugar, which means they break out more, so be careful of excessive amounts of sugar if you’re prone to breakouts. Also, dairy products can cause you to break out more. I’m not a huge fan of milk and dairy. If you’re going to have cereal, switch to organic almond milk. If you have to grab a quick snack, Quest bars are amazing and great for you; they come in different flavors, and the ingredients are pretty good. Don’t eat them three times a day, but if you’re in a crunch, they’re pretty good to have around.

Also, instead of reaching for sodas, try green drinks. Many now come in little packets,  and they’re a great, quick boost of alkalinity. Stay away from sodas of all kinds – they’re horrible for you. Also, this goes without saying, but drink water—and lots of it.

MORE: 10 Foods You Need to Eat For a Bikini Body

Take your vitamins: I’m a big fan of supplements to help regulate the health of the body and the skin, particularly vitamin B3 and calcium, which are important because stress creates a lot of acid which can wreak havoc on your skin. B3 is great for vitamin deficiency, and it’s helpful for acne because it regulates skin antimicrobials. Skin produces little peptides that are activated by B3 to help protect the skin, so if you have skin issues, it’s one of the best things you can take.

Change your sheets: Sheets and pillowcases collect oil on them, which is a recipe for clogged pores and congested skin. Change them often. Also, I find that if you lie on your back and put a pillow under your knees, you turn on your side less in your sleep and you’ll wake up face up, which avoids the whole pillowcase issue altogether.

Manage your stress levels: Stress management is important. It helps with the neutralization of the acid that’s created when you have stress. Exercise, meditation, yoga – they’re all so important to help with the mitigation of stress and its damaging effects on the body. Even taking a walk outside will help. Anything that promotes dopamine is key, and meditation is absolutely amazing for this.

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