Medically reviewed by: Nancy Satur, MDWritten by: Curology Editorial TeamWelcome to Ask Curology, a series on the Curology blog where one of our in-house licensed dermatology providers answers your questions about all things skincare. Today were talking about face wash for acne and ingredients to avoid in skincare. Why do some face washes supposedly meant to help with acne seem to make matters worse?
Turns out its all about the fine print: the ingredients list. There are many different acne causes, but below, our derm providers narrow it down if you think your acne face wash might be behind your worsening breakouts.Got a burning skincare question of your own?
Come hang out with us on Instagram and keep your eyes peeled for our provider takeover series on our stories. We answer your questions in real time!Dear Curology Derm,Ive been using this acne-fighting face wash to help clear up acne breakouts and get my oily skin under control, but I dont think its working.
Actually, Ive been breaking out more ever since I started using it! The label says its supposed to clear acne and control oil, so what gives?Sincerely,Dismayed and ConfusedDear Dismayed,Not to defend your potentially pore-clogging cleanser, but its possible your skin might be going through a normal and pretty common process called purging.
Some people experience acne purging in the first few weeks to months of treating acne with active ingredients, including common over-the-counter anti-acne ingredients like salicylic acid. Awful as it is to go through this, it actually means your acne treatment is working! Basically, the underlying acne in your skin is working its way out as your skin adjusts to the new situation.
Learn more about acne purging here. We know it isnt easy to endure, to say the least. But if youre patient, treat your skin gently, and keep up with your treatment, these breakouts should clear up soon!
If they still dont clear up after a couple months, thats a good time to try a different approach like signing up for Curology, where youll get a customized acne-fighting cream and a one-on-one treatment plan from one of us dermatology providers.Your skin might not be purging itself of acne, though depending on the ingredients in your face wash, it could be breaking out in reaction to the product itself! Here are a few other explanations for why a face wash designated for acne-prone and/or oily skin could potentially make acne worse:1.
It has pore-clogging ingredients. Unfortunately, theres no FDA regulation of terms like non-comedogenic on skincare or cosmetic products, so some products marketed toward those susceptible to acne sneak pore-clogging ingredients into the mix. In our research, weve found ingredients including laureth-4, isopropyl myristate, sodium laureth sulfate, and carrageenan in several so-called anti-acne and oil-control cleansers.
2. It contains alcohol. Alcohol can dry out the skin and strip it of its natural protective barrier.
Irritation and inflammation of the skin can make it vulnerable to acne breakouts.3. It has an active ingredient that is too strong for your skin (or you might be using it too frequently).
Many acne face washes you can buy at the drugstore contain salicylic acid, a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that can help unclog pores, or benzoyl peroxide, an antiseptic. Some people experience dryness or irritation from using these, and irritated skin can be more prone to acne breakouts. If your skin is on the sensitive side, you may want to look for a lower strength or switch to a gentle cleanser like the cleanser by Curology, which comes with the full set when you subscribe!
and use a topical cream or other acne treatment recommended by your dermatology provider.When in doubt, custom skincare is what its aboutIf youre struggling with acne and your so-called acne-fighting face wash just doesnt cut the mustard, its time to try something different: a customized treatment for your unique skin. Sign up for a free trial of Curology to get your very own custom acne-fighting cream, plus our must-have moisturizer and gentle cleanser when you sign up for the full set.
As always, weve got your back!Were here to share what we know but dont take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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