Let’s start with what NOT to do, because too much bad DIY advice is floating around the Internet. Making the problem WORSE is not the goal. With that in mind, don’t use the following when you have acne breakouts:
Lemon juice: It seems nice, but its pH is all wrong for the skin, so it’s likely to cause irritation, not to mention that it can make the skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. It’s also too low in Vitamin C—and possesses the wrong kind—for someone to benefit from this supposed “advantage.”
Toothpaste: Yes, it can dry up a zit. But it also can be quite irritating to the skin. A gentler alternative would be crushed aspirin mixed with a tiny bit of water and applied overnight.
Tea tree oil: A couple of studies showed that a formulation with a 5% tea tree oil was as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide. Great, only no products are available commercially with 5% tea tree oil. The concentrations are MUCH lower: like 0.5%. So the standard zit cream is loads better, end of discussion.
Instead, Do This when Acne Breakouts Hit
Keep washing gently. NEVER use soap on your skin and don’t get sucked into washing your face multiple times a day by Internet mythology. Twice a day with Cetaphil DermaControl Oil-Control Foam Wash should be enough to keep your pores clean.
Exfoliate lightly. Salicylic acid cleansers seem to work better at unclogging pores, and it’s the oil in pores and dead skin cells that help contribute to acne breakouts. Look for products with around 2% concentration, with a pH level of 3 to 4.
Ease up on the makeup. During a breakout, scale back on your use of foundation, blush, and powder, since this obviously gunks up the skin and you want cleared-up skin to make this breakout clear up. Also, look for makeup labeled “noncomedogenic,” which means it doesn’t cause blocked pores. Instead, you may want to try a concealer with salicylic acid, only check with your doctor if you use in combination with a salicylic acid exfoliant, since it could be too much for your skin.
See your doctor. Too many folks avoid this step, hoping that DIY facials randomly recommended by someone will do the trick. No! Dermatologists have the training and tools to help, whether it’s retinoids, antibiotics, Aczone, light therapy and more. They also can help with experience-based lifestyle tips to help you manage future breakouts.