When it comes to skin care, most people – women, especially – will do anything to achieve a clear, smooth complexion. But, before you start eliminating certain foods from your diet or investing in expensive products to eliminate acne, LeAnna Lane MD, a dermatologist at Group Health, sets the facts straight on certain skincare claims.
Claim #1: Acne is Caused by Dirt on the Skin
Dr. Lane says she frequently sees patients who have caused a lot of irritation to their skin by over-cleansing. “They’re potentially worsening their acne, because of over-aggressive skin care aimed at trying to remove all the dirt and oil,” she points out.
In general, most people – even those with acne-prone skin – only need to wash their face once a day. This helps avoid stripping your skin of its natural oils, which can actually lead to the over-production of oil.
Claim #2: Cleansing with a Facial Brush Will Clear Skin
Several skincare lines have developed expensive facial brush cleansing systems to exfoliate the skin and give it a deep clean. Dr. Lane says there’s no scientific data proving that one of these devices will clear or prevent acne. “I think that probably their best use is just related to the fact that they feel nice on the skin,” she adds.
Claim #3: Eating Certain Foods Causes Acne
Answer: Possibly, but there’s no concrete evidence.
Several studies, which examined the impact of certain foods – like chocolate – on acne, were performed in the 1970s, but Dr. Lane says these studies didn’t find a significant link.
On the other hand, she says some data shows that foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, pasta and rice, may worsen acne, but eliminating these foods from your diet, however, will not cure acne.
Claim #4: Acne Worsens Around Menstruation
Acne tends to flare up between two and seven days before menstruation begins, due to hormonal changes, which lead to the overproduction of sebum. This sebum then gets trapped in the skin, and can lead to acne, especially around the jawline.
While Dr. Lane says there isn't much you can do to significantly reduce hormone-induced acne, it might be worth a visit to your dermatologist, who can prescribe medicines, like an oral pill, spironolactone, which are meant to help treat hormonal acne.
Claim #5: Once You Reach Adulthood, Acne Stops
“Twenty to 25 percent of patients will have persistent or new acne in adulthood, but we really don’t know the cause,” Dr. Lane explains.
If you fall into this category, Dr. Lane suggests over-the-counter medications or facial cleansers that include benzoyl peroxide as a treatment method. These products range from two to 10 percent; however, the higher the strength, the more irritating the product will be to your skin. She usually recommends using a face wash with 4 percent to 5 percent benzoyl peroxide once a day. “They work best if they have some contact time with the skin, so if they’re left on the skin for a minute or two, before they rinse them off,” she adds.