If clear, healthy, beautiful skin is on your list of improvements for the New Year, don't fret. In case you didn't know, the key to getting clear skin is to follow an acne-fighting regimen. Say buh-bye to blemishes and banish breakouts once and for all by committing to a handful of habits that will improve the overall look and feel of your skin.
As beauty editors, we've seen acne tips of all kinds—from topical solutions to lifestyle overhauls and everything in between. Over the years, we've figured out a few of our favorites that actually work. To help you easily digest the overwhelming amount of advice out there, we've rounded up the very best tips for getting your skin clear and glowing.
Keep scrolling to see all our best acne-fighting tips.
Exfoliating is a key part of the skincare process—especially if you're combatting acne. Celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau told Byrdie that in addition to cleansing nightly, it's important to use an exfoliating wash. She suggests using exfoliants that contain glycolic acid, AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids), and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) for three nights straight followed by a three-night break. Rouleau also recommends products that contain pumpkin, papaya, or pineapple for skin-boosting enzymes.
Moisturize and Protect
Once you've cleansed, it's important to restore the skin's moisture and protect it from sun damage. If you don't moisturize regularly, you run the risk of drying out your skin, which will cause it to produce more oil. SPF should also be a component of your daytime moisturizer, as acne products and exfoliants make you more vulnerable to sun damage.
Don't Pick at Your Skin
As tempting as it may be to pick or pop a pimple, prodding at your skin is best left to a professional. If you pick at your face, you increase the odds of scarring and causing hyperpigmentation. Even touching your face too frequently brings the dirt and bacteria from your hands right to your sensitive pores. Break the habit once and for all, and say hello to clearer, less-irritated skin.
Cure From Within
How you take care of your body from the inside is just as important as how you take care of it on the outside. Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas told Byrdie that the key to glowy skin is a healthy diet. "I would strongly suggest avoiding sugar, dairy, and wheat," she says. Instead, load up on veggies with every meal and consider treating yourself to a daily green juice for an extra boost of nutrients needed for a beautiful complexion. Simply staying hydrated will greatly improve your skin, so be sure to always carry a water bottle with you. There's no point in lathering on pricey moisturizers if you aren't keeping skin hydrated from within.
Don't Work Out in Makeup
Even if you sneak in a sweat session on your lunch break or after work, it's important to wash off your makeup first. Holly Byerly, an esthetician for VMV Hypoallergenics, told Byrdie that "exercising while wearing makeup can worsen acne-prone adult skin." In addition to exercising with a clean face, it's important to thoroughly cleanse the skin after perspiration to prevent clogged pores and breakouts.
Get More Sleep
Getting a good night's rest can drastically improve your overall health. If you're not getting enough sleep, you'll see the negative effects play out on your skin—from a dull complexion to stubborn breakouts. In fact, a Japanese study found that stress, lack of sleep, and sweat were the three most common acne triggers among a group of teenagers. Another study found that psychological stress can increase by 14% for every hour of sleep lost per night. Stop skipping out on sleep and you'll significantly reduce the stress that can keep you from getting the clear, healthy skin you desire. After all, it's called "beauty sleep" for a reason.
Don't Just Wash Your Face
It's not just your face you need to keep clean and cared for if you want beautiful, clear skin. Make sure to regularly wash materials your face comes into contact with—including your pillowcases, bedsheets, face towels, and makeup brushes. If you want to avoid bacterial buildup that can wreak havoc on your skin, be sure to wash these items daily. Besides, there's no point in washing your face before bed if you rest your head on a dirty pillow.
This post was originally published on December 24, 2016 and has been updated.