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A How-To on Acne Pimples – Acne Don’ts


Are pimples and acne your enemy #1? Are you always ready to try the next gadget, the late night infomercial products, and the spinning gizmos to get skin that is acne free? It makes sense – a single pimple can ruin the day, and several of them can be devastating. But don’t get fooled into using products and tools designed to harass your acne – they’ll only make it angry.  And when acne gets angry, it calls in more of its friends. You need products for acne that work to nourish your skin, not anger it.

Stop harassing acne and start nourishing your skin. Follow our easy Acne Don’ts for a clear, acne-free complexion – (We’ll share our Acne Dos next week):


Don’t use spinning cleansing brushes.

There’s been a huge trend lately in rotating brushes – and some have (shockingly) been marketed specifically to those who have acne. This is the classic definition of “harassing” acne. An experienced skin care professional would never use a rotating brush – even the gentle brushes – during a facial on a client with acne. It is simply too aggressive, causing irritation, and a potential overproduction of oil. It does more harm than good for acne.

Don’t use products formulated with fragrance or “parfum”.

Skin care manufacturers will add artificial fragrances to a product in order to mask the scent of lower quality ingredients. Check the labels. You’ll be surprised at what you find.

Don’t pop a pimple – either with your hands or a blemish extractor.

The best way to get more pimples is to pop one. The process does not rid your skin of acne. It only pushes bacteria deeper into the skin, causing it to spread to other areas of the face. Plus, it can result in permanently scarring. Leave extractions to the pros.

Are you currently dealing with acne pimples? Ask us any questions in the comments below!


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Comments (18)

T L says:
Aug 9, 2012

If popping a pimple is bad then why does the Aesthetician I go to pop my pimples?

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Aug 9, 2012

    Excellent question! There’s a big difference between a trained skin care professional performing extractions in a treatment room environment and someone popping a pimple at home. I’ve written about this in more detail here, but 1. a pro is working in a sterilized environment and therefore greatly reduces the chance of infection. 2. She has access to pro-use-only products to treat the skin for maximum results. 3. She’ll use professional equipment to prep the skin for easier extractions, greatly reducing the chance for skin injury. 4. She has years and years of training – specific training on extractions, and knows particularly what can and cannot be extracted. This is invaluable knowledge that simply cannot be underestimated when it come to your face.

Rachel says:
Aug 11, 2012

What about milia?
I’ve had smooth skin most of my life. Now at 34, I have been having the worst time with milia. I’ve tried changing moisturizers and beauty products… Nothing is helping.
I even go without makeup at least 3-4 days a week, and wash it off as soon as I get home from work.
I’m almost done with the Kerafole Purge, and it hasn’t helped at all.
I also have the Pumice Peel, and have been trying to use that every 3rd day.
I was told not to treat the milia like acne, but I’m really not sure what to do about it.
Sometimes after a hot shower, I try squeezing some of them, because it feels like the sebum is just stuck in my skin. Then they turn into a bigger bump…. And the ones that don’t turn into bigger bumps just go back to being a little milia bump again.
But I’ve gone at least 1-2 weeks without squeezing anything, and they are all still there.

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Aug 15, 2012

    Hi Rachel – “First I would like to learn a bit more about your skin in order to help you. What is your skin type? Do you notice oil or a greasy shine throughout the day, and if so, what time of day do you first notice this oil, and where on your face do you see it? This milia that you are speaking of; do they feel hard, like a grain of sand? And where on the face do you see them? Finally, tell me exactly what products you are using- which cleanser, toner, moisturizer, etc. and how you are using these products. Do you get professional facials, and if so, how often? This will help me get a bigger picture of what may be happening here”.

Rachel says:
Aug 15, 2012

My skin type is combination. Not too oily, and not too dry. I get shiny or greasy about mid-day or afternoon, but mostly because it is hot right now.
When I get shiny, it’s mostly in the t-zone area.
The milia do feel hard like sand. They are mostly on my chin, as well as on my cheeks. It feels rough on my chin, which used to be smooth.
I never had problems with this until I started seeing an esthetician, actually. I got 2 light chemical peels done within 1 month of each other… Ever since then, my skin has been acting up. I’ve tried “Natural” type products from Whole Foods like MyChelle & Anne Marie Borlind… As well as basic Olay.
I did the Kerafole Purge like I had said, and didn’t notice a difference at all. I tried a glycolic night-treatment 3 nights in a row (you’re supposed to do it 7), and while I feel like it helped some stuff come to the surface, because I formed some whiteheads afterwards, the milia are still there.
I’m still using the Pumice Peel & Restorative Clay every 3rd day.
I think the main culprit that was causing the milia was the foundation I was using. I have since quit using that foundation, but the milia are still there.
I’ve tried steaming & masking at home….
I’ve had a professional microderm treatment. Nothing seems to be helping.
I’m almost scared to put anything on my face. On my days off of work, I don’t even put any moisturizer on, and I wash my face as soon as I get home from work.

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Aug 16, 2012

    Rachel – The first thing I noticed is that you received two professional peels within one month. I wonder what products your esthetician used and what she recommended for you to use at home in addition to the professional facials you received. You didn’t mention what you were using to cleanse or tone your skin, so I’m just going to make some recommendations based on your description of your skin:

    1. Since you are experiencing milia-like breakouts that are rather chronic, I professionally recommend Flash Foam Cleanser. This cleanser is not only gentle, but has pumpkin, papaya and pineapple enzymes. Since milia is generally a sign of a more ‘sluggish skin’, this cleanser will help soften these and work it through. However, if the milia doesn’t go away, you may need to see a dermatologist to have them lanced and removed. Squeezing them definitely does NOT help and may cause permanent damage, so please don’t do that.
    2. Using a toner is also important, as it hydrates the skin. The more dehydrated you are, the more sluggish and surface dryness you will see. You will also be more sensitive if you don’t replace moisture and protect your skin on a daily basis. I recommend our Equalizer, which contains natural Chinese herbs and regenerating oils to soften and comfort your skin.
    3. It sounds like you are putting every exfoliant on your skin but the kitchen sink- you need to pare back and stick to one that can be used as directed, to get best results. Based on what you’ve shared, I would stick with Kerafole. Your skin needs time to heal and regenerate itself, so please just try to stick to one program with one product line- rather than cherry pick.
    4. I also would make sure you are wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen – this is important to protect the new, fresh skin that you have exposed with your exfoliation.
    5. Finally, although I appreciate that you are now ‘gun shy’ and don’t know what to do, never skip proper skin care. Not putting anything on your face again will leave it unprotected, and increase dryness, sensitivity and lead to more milia.
    Good luck!

Rachel says:
Aug 19, 2012

What about the Decongestant Cleanser? It seems like they are small little clogged pores…
I’ve been using a MyChelle cleanser with aha’s in it, and I don’t think it has been helping much.

The Kerafole didn’t seem to do much for me, either. What about either the Quick Refiner or Oxygenation?

And which moisturizer? Absolute Moisture or Beyond Hydration?

Thank you so much for all of your feedback and help.

Coree says:
Aug 25, 2012

I’ve always had acne, some times are worse than others. I went from having oily skin to having dry skin only to cause more breakouts, especially before my period. I use all natural products which seem to be working better, however it’s not completely getting rid of it. I drink plenty of water, and change my pillow cases daily. What would you recommend?

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Aug 28, 2012

    If you’ve been to the dermatologist and have been diagnosed with acne, then I would professionally recommend that you try our Bioelements Acne Clearing System. The active ingredients in this medicated system works together, 24 hours a day to clear skin of existing breakouts, and allow it to heal from the signs of past acne breakouts. Acne can re-occur throughout life, and is often stimulated by hormones, such as your monthly period, pregnancy and the onset of menopause. Our system utilizes the best in natural OTC ingredients that I think your skin would respond to. I recommend our Spotless Cleanser, Active Astringent, Pore Rescue Acne Gel and Amino Mask.

kristy says:
Aug 28, 2012

I am a 23 year old with a problem in acne for about a year now. growing up i never had a problem with it. I always used a simple cleanser from jergens and then around 22 noticed I suddenly had a bad breakout that wouldn’t go away. My acne is primarily always on my jaw line. Some of the pimples are cystic and some are like raised bumps with no head. I also have a lot more black heads and large pores. I used to have good skin and as you can imagine, I’m in a panic. I started to use a cleanser that had glycolic acid in it by dermadoctor, and it seemed to work, but then my face dried out and became blotchy. Then I switched to the clean start by demalogica and it worked for me for a while, and now i am having a pretty severe breakout. Again, all along my chin and jaw line. I am convinced that it could quite possibly be from the hormone changes being that I quit taking bc. I feel like now my only option is to get a facial, but I have a friend who tries to do at home things on me and it seems that when she does it tends to make things worse. I would consider my skin oily because I can visibly see the oil on my nose like 30 mins after cleaning my face. I feel that the remedy that I use may be making it worse also. I feel like I am at my wits end with this, but I also know that it will get worse if I don’t address it. I have found a salon that offers your products, but what I ask is which facial should I ask for, and what products are imperical in order from most to least, considering I will have to buy in incriments. Also for a little more info into what I do that I believe may cause the acne, I work with children and I often wonder if they could be contributing?Sometimes the acne itself itches.does that tell you anything about my type? also, my makeup It’s covergirl for sensitive skin, but could it be a factor? I need help. Please help me figure out what to stop doing and what to ask for from a professional? thank you for your helpful site.

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Aug 29, 2012

    Based on what we know about acne, I agree with your idea that your breakouts along the jawline are probably stimulated by hormonal changes in your body. Women can develop ‘late onset’ acne in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond. Because of the severity of your acne, (cysts, etc.), I professionally recommend that you see a dermatologist again for a new diagnosis. What Bioelements can do for you is provide our Bioelements Acne Clearing System that is an OTC medicated acne line that will not dry out your skin, help heal your existing blemishes and prevent new ones. I would recommend first that you see your doctor, and then for your follow up at home care, use these products to speed up the process. These products are often used with great success in conjunction with medical intervention. Just see what your doctor says first. Then I recommend our Spotless Cleanser, Active Astringent, Pore Rescue Acne Gel and Amino Mask. Once your doctor says it’s okay for you to receive a professional facial, then I would go to our spa locator and find a spa near you that can professionally treat your skin with pro-use only products that are designed just for your skin- along with a licensed professional that is trained on how to care for clients that have acne. I wish you the best of luck!

kristy says:
Aug 29, 2012

thank you for you quick response first and foremost. I felt like when i visited the dermatologist he took a quick look at me, persribed the antibiotics and left..It did not feel sufficient. I have to admit the acne seems to be fading these past few days, but for my large pores, what should I do? I don’t know if the dermatologist can do much more. He was an older man, that didnt seem too concerned. There is a professional asthetics places I also went to and they took a picture of my face and showed me the main bacterial areas, but he said my pore size is the biggest what can i do to get my pores smaller and even out the skin tone from the previous and existing acne scars? But without irritating my face? thank you again for your helpful suggestions..

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Sep 17, 2012

    The one thing to remember is that there is nothing that can change genetics. If you have larger pores in certain areas of your face, then you will always have them. What you can do is reduce the ‘appearance’ of these pores by: Keeping them scrupulously clean, exfoliate regularly and keep your skin hydrated/moisturized. You can gently ‘resurface’ your skin to help your pores lay more flat, but they will not get smaller. So. Here is why professional facials are important. You need a professional to monitor your skin during your treatment to ‘gauge’ how your skin is responding so it does not get irritated. For at home care, I first suggest the cleanser, toner, sunscreen, moisturizer and exfoliant that is best for your skin type. If acne is still an issue, I maintain that you would do well with our Bioelements Acne Clearing System which would also help with your acne scars. Best to have an esthetician look at your skin to see what’s going on right now. (We can only do so much in an email without the benefit of seeing your skin and how it responds to treatment.) You can find a Bioelements spa here.

Kerstin says:
Jul 1, 2013

Hi! Im 18 yrs old and lately ive been having terrible whiteheads and blackheads breakout. What can i do to completely remove these? And also how do i remove red big zits on my face? Thanks!

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Jul 1, 2013

    Hi Kerstin,

    First, do not pop these breakouts yourself! You run the risk of scarring and getting more due to the spread of infection. Instead, I recommend you try our Bioelements Acne Clearing System. These medicated products will not only help you target the trigger factors of acne, (excess oil, excess dead skin cells, acne bacteria and inflammation), but will also gently hydrate as they help heal current breakouts and past acne scars.

    · Spotless Cleanser: Wash your face with this medicated cleanser morning and night.
    · Active Astringent: Blot your skin with this healing toner after removing cleanser, morning and night.
    · Pore Rescue Acne Gel: Apply to your entire face after toning, morning and night.
    · Amino Mask: Mask 2-3 times weekly. Leave mask on for 15 minutes, rinse with cool water, tone with Active Astringent and apply Pore Rescue Acne Gel and Moisturizer, if necessary.

    And if you have oily skin, I recommend our Oil Control Mattifier, which will help control your oil breakthrough and prevent pore-clogging., and one of our broad spectrum sunscreens to help protect your skin.

    · Oil Control Mattifier: Apply to any areas of the face that appear oily, underneath your moisturizer or sunscreen to control shine.

Christina Silva says:
Aug 13, 2013

I can’t agree with all of this article, and I am a Licensed Esthetician. First, people are going to pop pimples regardless of what you tell them. There is not very many people I know that will walk around with a big pus filled whitehead. They need to be properly shown how to extract. Second, the Clarisonic has been a godsend to many people who have acne and clogged pores, myself included.

Mia says:
Sep 22, 2013

I have a couple of questions.

1.I got a spinning brush and have been using it to treat my acne. I know that it’s bad for my skin, but it was a birthday present from my parents, and if I don’t use it they’ll be disappointed. Is it really so bad for your skin? What should I do?

2. My dermatologist recently prescribed me Tazorac cream. She prescribed this to me after prescribing Hydrocortisone cream since my skin wasn’t dried out because of it. Is this bad for my skin?

3. This is sort of a follow up to my last question. My mother bought me a Clinique kind of kit thing that has a regular bar of facial soap, followed by a ‘Clarifying Lotion’ and a moisturizing lotion. After being prescribed the creams listed above, I stopped using this set and went to my regular cetaphil soap, out of fear that my skin was going to dry out from the clarifying lotion that according to the label, has ‘alcohol denat.’ in it, combined with my newly prescribed creams. Should I switch back to the clinique kit that was made specifically for my combo- dry skin or stay with the cetaphil?

That’s all for now. I’ll probably ask more questions if I think of them.

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Sep 25, 2013

    Hi Mia –

    1. The problem with using a ‘spinning brush’ on your skin is that you are physically scratching the surface of your skin with a brush- under normal circumstances, it’s not a problem, as long as you don’t press too hard. But with acne, you run the risk of breaking open a pimple that can cause damage to your skin and spread acne bacteria that can lead to more breakouts. Instead, I suggest using products designed for an acne skin such as our Bioelements Acne Clearing System. These OTC medicated products have built-in gentle chemical exfoliants and ingredients that will work on the trigger factors that lead to you acne breakouts- excess oil, excess dead skin cells, acne bacteria and inflammation. This will not only help heal your present acne breakouts, but also help prevent new ones from forming.

    2. I really can’t comment on what your physician prescribed. This is between you and your doctor. As an esthetician, I can’t comment on medications prescribed by your physician.

    3. I can only speak to the Bioelements professional products I formulate – my team of skin care pros and I are experts on how our products work and affect the skin. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about any of the products in the Bioelements Line.

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