Shocking fact: breakout preventing skincare could be causing you… breakouts! And the more you’re using this 1 specific thing – the worse your breakouts could be getting. In fact – using this 1 thing could be a sole cause of your breakouts. Yikes.
Imagine trying to satisfy a need for chocolate with a 90% sugar, 10% cocoa chocolate cake. It’s going to taste great – but – it’s also going to make you crave more.
Here’s the deal – when the biology of your skin is upset – breakouts are 1000% more likely to happen.
Your skin biology’s pretty special. A carefully designed mix of skin pH, bacteria, sebum, ceramides, antioxidants and more.
Upset your skin’s biology and you’re going to know it.
Aka use this one kind of breakout preventing skincare and pimples, acne and breakouts could be stalking you for years.
Wanting to give breakouts the slip? Come find out the #1 step you should be taking…
What Causes Your Face to Breakout?
Breakouts can feel ridiculously frustrating ‘eh. You can’t predict them. You can’t control them. You can’t seem to get rid of them.
Or can you?
Fact: When your skin’s experiencing a breakout it will be experiencing one or more of the following skin changes;
- Change in skin pH
- Making too much skin inside pores
- Stickier sebum than normal
- Overgrowth of acne causing bacteria
- Inflammation/immune activation
- Oxidation of skin lipids
And usually my friend, it’s not just one change. These guys are chums. Where one swings into action, another follows.
…and a lot of people don’t even realise these kinds of changes can cause breakouts, adult acne and pimples.
I mean pH what?
Upset the biology of your skin by doing something which say – raises your skin pH or makes your sebum stickier or causes dead skin to be trapped inside your pores – and you guessed it – breakouts happen.
The biggy: Acne face wash aka washing your face too much.
It sounds so simple – but the knock-on impact is huge. Just take a peek at the statistics I’ve got coming your way soon.
Can Washing Your Face Cause Acne?
Yes or no? Before we can answer, we need to understand what washing your face does. Most people know washing your face takes away makeup and impurities – but – most people don’t know washing your face also changes/teases/raises your skin pH.
pH is a measure of how acidic or how alkaline something is.
Lemons are acidic.
Spinach is alkaline.
Tap water is averagely neutral.
Mixing together liquids which have different pH levels – changes pH.
If you made lemon spinach – yummy!? – the overall pH of your meal would change.
Like adding more and more tap water to lemon juice – it gets less and less lemony, less and less stingy and less and less acidic.
pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14.
Anything below 7 is acidic. Anything above 7 is alkaline.
Your skin also has a pH.
Psst! Most people think skin pH should be about 5.5.
In fact – an exceptionally healthy skin pH looks likely to be around pH 4 to 4.5.
…and here’s why washing your face has potential to cause acne;
- Most kinds of soap are high pH aka alkaline
- Some cleansers can be as alkaline as pH 12 (!)
- Tap water is about pH 7 and hard water is over pH 8.5
A #1 Cause of Sudden Acne Breakouts on Face
Here’s where it gets interesting. Your skin is home to billions of bacteria. This is normal. Even non-acne prone skin types carry acne bacteria. But – when you get acne breakouts – in general certain types of acne bacteria have hosted a hostile takeover of your skin’s microbiome. They’ve had babies, their babies have had babies and their baby’s, babies have had babies.
They’re now sitting happy on your skin, in hysterics, giggles and temper tantrums – scaring away all other kinds of skin bacteria.
It’s this hostile takeover that’s the issue. Not the fact your skin has acne bacteria.
Fact: Acne bacteria find it a lot, lot easier to stick to your skin when your skin pH is high. And it doesn’t even have to be a lot higher – about the pH of tap water is perfect.
Double fact: Happy skin bacteria find it a lot, lot easier to stick to your skin when your skin pH is low. Aka around 4 to 4.5.
Can you see what’s happening here?
Not only could the pH of your acne face wash be higher than your natural skin pH but in general the pH of your tap water is about the right level to be making super happy acne bacteria.
Take a peek at these statistics;
- Tap water in Europe has an average pH level of 8
- Washing with tap water increases skin pH for up to 6 hours after washing
- Using a shower gel with pH 6 causes a significant and fast increase in skin pH which takes about 4 hours to re-balance
- The more you wash skin, the longer it takes your skin pH to re-balance
- People with a skin pH below 5 have healthier skin
- When people don’t cleanse skin for 24 hours their skin pH drops aka gets more acidic aka goes back towards natural & healthy
- When people with acne are asked to use either an acidic cleanser or an alkaline cleanser – the group who use an acidic cleanser see acne breakouts reduce and the group who use the alkaline cleanser experience more
Bottom line: Use the wrong acne face wash and you could be making your acne breakouts worse. Use the right acne face wash – plus don’t use it too often – more about this soon – and you could be helping sudden acne breakouts go away.
Does Washing Your Face Everyday Get Rid of Acne?
If there was ever a sitting on the fence moment this is it because the fact is – washing your face everyday could be causing you acne. But also – washing your face everyday could be helping you reduce acne breakouts.
The difference comes in the type of acne face wash you’re using… and more specifically its pH.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 19 November 2018
Use a pH high face wash (which a lot are!) and you’ll be making acne breakouts more possible.
Use a low pH face wash and you’ll be helping your skin get better. Aka get rid of breakouts.
It’s simple but it works.
But psst! this isn’t an overnight thing – you need to be using a pH balanced face wash for months before your acne breakouts are likely to get better. In the study I mentioned before – the 1 where using an acidic cleanser helped reduce acne breakouts – well those guys were using their acidic cleanser for 12 weeks. Gives you an idea ‘eh. Consistent use equals results.
Does Face Wash Help Acne?
You’ve got it my friend – yes the right face wash will absolutely help your acne, reduce breakouts, stop pimples. But finding the pH of a face wash isn’t as simple as it sounds. Plus – it’s not just about pH, it’s also about finding a sensitive skin friendly acne face wash – because acne is inflammatory and irritation worsens inflammation.
Which Face Wash Is Best for Acne and Pimples?
Skincare scientist at your service. Here’s the pH balanced acne face wash products I recommend;
- [About pH 4] SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser also called Blemish and AGE Cleanser (£33/240ml)
- [About pH 4.5] Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser (£15/177ml – they also have a mini version for £8)
- [About pH 4.7] DRUGSTORE acne face wash: BIODERMA Sébium H2O Purifying Cleansing Micelle Solution (£10.80/250ml)
Using one of these 3 acne face wash products consistently for at least 3 months is extremely likely to help reduce your acne breakouts.
How Many Times Should You Wash Your Face a Day With Acne?
Great question my friend. Because even using an acne face wash can have you using pH high water to wash it off with. Short answer – washing your skin in PM is important. Washing your face in AM really isn’t needed.
Washing your breakout prone skin in PM is smart. After a hard days work/shopping/eating/spa-ing/girl bossing your skin is likely to have picked up;
- Pollution impurities
- Invisible soot
- Allergens like pollen
Plus – you’ve also got sunscreen and makeup to take off (!)
But – washing your face in AM is not such a great idea.
So long as you don’t sleep-walk to the grocery store/work the night-shift/snooze in a dust bath – you’re good – there’s really no dirt and impurities/makeup you need to be removing from skin.
My advice: Keep your bed sheets clean and wash your breakout prone skin just once per day.
Have more acne breakout questions? Want to know if the acne face wash you have right now could be worsening your acne? Have skin pH questions? Come chat my friend – leave me your comments and questions below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.