Myths About Acne

Practically everyone will suffer from acne breakouts at some point in their life, but are we all as educated as we could be about this common yet annoying condition? As it turns out, there are many myths and misconceptions about acne that may be keeping us from clearing up our skin more quickly. Below we’ve compiled some commonly-held misconceptions about acne, and what you should do instead.

Popping pimples is perfectly fine.


Wrong! Not only does popping your pimple increase the likelihood of a scar developing, but it also pushes bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil into your pores and thus leads to inflammation and swelling. Squeezing and popping your pimples triggers an inflammation response that removes oils and proteins from neighboring tissues, which may in turn lead to more breakouts (, Aspen Dermatology). It is recommended that dermatologists and estheticians pop your pimples, but if you absolutely cannot control your desire to pop your zit, then there is a proper way to do so. Dr. Cynthia Bailey notes that you should wait until the zit has a white head, meaning that the pus is close to the surface and ready to be popped. Pimples should be popped using clean hands, and a sterilized needle. You can read more about the proper way to pop a pimple here (WebMD).

Cleansing my face will cure me of acne.

Yes and no. Cleansing your face multiple times per day will actually dry out your skin and lead to irritation. Contrary to popular belief, dirt does not cause your pimples to appear (but a whole host of other things may induce breakouts). For the best skin health, you should cleanse your face once in the evening and once in the morning, in addition to after rigorous workouts (WebMD, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases).

Chocolate causes acne.

This myth has a little bit of truth to it, but overall, there is not enough credible clinical evidence that chocolate can induce or exacerbate breakouts (Dr. Diane Walder for Prevention). For example, research from the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that males between the ages of 18 – 35 who had a history of acne and who ate capsules of 100% cocoa powder saw a significant increase in the number of acne lesions. However, the small sample size (13 men), the fairly homogeneous participant pool (males 18-35), and the type of chocolate ingested (100% cocoa powder and not an actual chocolate bar, which seldom contains 100% cocoa) all may have influenced the researchers’ findings. However, if you eat certain chocolates or foods that have a high glycemic index, then this may be exacerbating your breakouts. Eating a high-glycemic-load diet causes your blood sugar to spike, which in turn may cause breakouts. Sugars and saturated fats may also make your sebum much more thick and viscous, so it may clog your pores by trapping dead skin cells and debris within them (Dr. Diane Walder and Dr. Rachel Nazarian for Prevention). While there is no consensus that chocolate can induce breakouts, for the sake of your general health it is best to eat chocolates and other sweets in moderation.

Toothpaste will make zits disappear.


All of us have probably heard the well-meaning (but inaccurate) advice that applying toothpaste to your breakouts will make them dry out and disappear. While toothpaste can dry out your pimples, it will also likely make your skin feel inflamed, parched, and scaly, so it’s best to stay to tried-and-true formulations containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid (Cleveland Clinic,

Lots of sun exposure will cure my acne.

Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as too much sun exposure. Not only do you run the risk of developing skin cancer, sunburn, hyperpigmentation, premature aging, and a host of other unsavory skin conditions, but too much exposure can also dry out your skin and make your acne more prominent. Sunlight does exhibit an antibacterial effect which may reduce the colonization of acne-causing bacteria on your skin, but these bacteria often repopulate themselves within a few hours of ending sun exposure. If you really want to do your skin a favor, make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and use sun-protective clothing (Bellevue Acne Clinic, Smarter Skin Dermatology).

Bottom Line

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Despite its prevalence in humans, there is still a lot that we need to learn about acne. For example, there is no evidence that sun exposure will significantly improve the appearance of your breakouts, while putting toothpaste on your zits may make them dry and inflamed. There is not enough evidence to prove that eating chocolate causes acne, although for the sake of your health you should moderate your intake. If you want to pop a zip, make sure to do it using a sterilized needle and only when the zit is ready to pop. Finally, make sure to clean your face twice a day – once in the evening and once at night (and after working out) – and no more than that, or you run the risk of drying out your face. For good results you may also want to consider using the ViaBuff Level 1 Exfoliating buff, which was designed specifically to exfoliate acne-prone skin.

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