7 Acne-Fighting Tips You Haven’t Heard

Updated 06/28/19

When it comes to topics of discussion, acne is like the Kardashian family of the skincare world—it’s by no means new news, yet people never seem to grow tired of talking about it. So chances are high that you’ve heard your fair share of tips for fighting acne. Some of them may have worked, and some of them might not have (your skin is a fickle thing, after all). In the spirit of celebrating the unknown (aka, the decidedly un-Kardashianesque), we asked three skin experts to share a few acne-fighting tips that aren’t as commonly known as, say, putting toothpaste on a zit (which we wouldn’t recommend, by the way—you’ll find out why ahead). From yellow condiments to blue lights, keep scrolling to see them all!  

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Tip #2: Pre-Cleanse With Oil

You might have finally gotten over your fear of face oils, but what about cleansing oils? They might just be the answer to your acne woes. “Using a pre-cleansing oil (yes, oil) is a very good idea, especially for oily skin types,” Dr. Dimitry Rabkin, founder and medical director of Esthetica MD, says. “Oil breaks down oil, so before using your go-to cleanser, it’s beneficial to break down excess facial oil first. This step also breaks down makeup so it can be easily and quickly cleansed away.”

Tip #3: Wash Your Pillowcase—Often

Here’s a sobering thought—your bed is a bacteria breeding ground. “Dirty pillowcases can lead to clogged pores,” Dr. Rabkin warns. “It sounds gross, but bacteria can build up on your bed and pillowcase. Since your face rubs around on it for several hours a night, it’s important to change those sheets (or at least your pillowcases) up to twice a week—especially if your skin is oily.”

Tip #4: Switch Out Your Face Towels

In the same vein, swapping out your face towels often is an important part of keeping your skin acne-free. The kind of towel you use can affect your skin, too—opt for soft terry or bamboo versions, and stock up so you can rotate and wash them often.

Tip #5: Use Mustard—Yes, Mustard

First of all, put down the toothpaste. Dr. Rabkin says that using toothpaste as a DIY spot treatment is counterproductive—it can actually cause a skin burn, which can leave a hyperpigmentation mark and take up to two months to fade. So, ignore everything you’ve read on Pinterest, and step away from the minty breath freshener. Instead, try mustard—yes, mustard. “It’s a great source of salicylic acid, which is an effective acne-fighting ingredient,” Dr. Rabkin says. “When treating pimples, apply a dab of mustard or even mustard powder on the affected spot. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes, then wash off with cool water.”

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Tip #7: Alkalize Your Diet (and Your Skin)

Say it with us: You are what you eat. “Acne thrives in acidic environments, so eating an alkaline diet that’s rich in leafy greens and low in processed foods helps balance the skin and lessen acne breakouts,” Parker says. You can also treat your skin’s pH levels topically—our derm-approved guide will show you how.

Have you heard of any of these tips? Click here for the best foundations for acne-prone skin!

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