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Preventing Breakouts

Hormones, stress and facial products can all conspire to give us the occasional blemish. So, how do you improve your chances of keeping clear skin? Understanding why you get acne will help you to guard against future breakouts.

Acne is caused when your hair follicles become clogged with oil, dead skin cells and sometimes bacteria. These follicles can either appear as blackheads, because the pore is open at the top causing the plug to appear black, or whiteheads, because the pore is covered by a layer of skin causing it to appear white. If the follicle becomes inflamed, the blemishes can become tender, sometimes painful, pustules, nodules or cysts.

The three main causes of acne are an overproduction of oil, irregular shedding of skin cells and a build-up of bacteria. These can be triggered or made worse by hormonal changes and stress, certain medications like steroids and diet.

To minimize these factors, you should wash acne-prone areas twice a day with a gentle cleanser. Harsh soaps can dry your skin and cause an overproduction of oil, so be sure to use a gentle cleanser and follow up with a moisturizer that won't clog your pores (non-comedogenic). Avoid thick or oily cosmetics and remember to wash off all your makeup before you go to bed. Take a shower after exercising or sweating and avoid touching or scratching/picking at your face. These things can introduce and trap bacteria.

While it's often impossible to prevent every blemish, being diligent about keeping your skin clean and moisturized will go a long way toward minimizing breakouts.