August 24, 2016


OMG, Nikki!
You have to help me! I don’t know what happened, but suddenly my face has exploded into ZITS!!! I look hideous! I wash my face a bunch of times a day but nothing helps! And makeup doesn’t cover it! I look so gross. What should I do???

Pizza Face

Hello Not a Pizza Face,


It’s not that you don’t need to wash your face – you do – but washing it a bunch of times a day and using harsh soaps and scrubbing really hard will actually make acne WORSE! Yikes!!

I totally understand why you’d want to wash it away, because you probably understand that acne happens when the pores of your skin are clogged with oil and bacteria. So if oil + bacteria = acne, you want to get ALL THE OIL and bacteria out by trying to wash it away, right?

The trouble is, healthy skin needs SOME oil. Confusing, right? (I did NOT even know this until my mom explained it.) And, if you clean ALL the oil out of your pores, your skin freaks out, and sends an urgent message to your brain, which encourages your skin to calm down and MAKE MORE OIL.

And then…MORE ACNE!!!

So, washing gently in the morning and evening is the best way to go. And while you might be tempted to try to dry out your skin, especially if it seems extra oily, you should still be moisturizing. (For the same reasons listed above—so your skin doesn’t FREAK OUT that you’re trying to dehydrate it.)

Here are a few more tips to help control the spread of acne:

  1. Don’t pick! I know how tempting it is to pick at zits, or pop them and try to squeeze the gross away. But when you do that, you’re just pushing more bacteria and oil further up into your pores and making MORE acne. Also, you can leave scars, and acne scars are an even bigger bummer than acne.
  2. Change your pillowcase regularly. Even if you wash your face at night, your pillowcase gets oil and bacteria on it from your face, hands, and hair. And then you smoosh your face into it and…acne-palooza!
  3. Wash your makeup brushes and sponges regularly. Another place oil and bacteria can build up, and then get spread all over your face, is your makeup brushes and sponges. So wash them at least once a week. (If it’s okay with your mom and dad, they can go in the top rack of your dishwasher.)
  4. Don’t go to bed with makeup on. This one seems sort of obvious…but yeah.

If none of these tips help—and you’ve given them TIME to help—you can go see a doctor. You might see your family doctor, or you might see a dermatologist (a skin doctor). There are prescription-strength creams and cleansers and pills they might give you. If you go that route, you still have to do all the other stuff, though. There is no magic pill.

And whether you’re working with a doctor or figuring out your own skin care system, BE PATIENT. It takes skin a month or even two to adjust to changes in its care. Don’t change your regimen three days into a new routine just because a zit pops up.

No matter how carefully you wash, and follow all the tips you can find, the fact is, you may not be able to get rid of all your acne. That’s because acne is also tied to hormones. So, it’s just a normal part of growing up. The bad thing about this is that there’s no escape. But the good thing is you’re not alone. Like, there’s no way you’re the only person you know who’s got some acne.

AND it won’t last forever!

So, I hope those ideas help. And most of all, just know that I’ve been there, and so have other readers!!

What do you say, guys? What are your best acne tips?