I don’t know about you, but when I have gotten pimples in the past, my instant reaction is to dry it out at all costs. I’ll wash my face two times (maybe three!) with my anti-acne cleanser, scrub my skin with an exfoliant, throw on Kiehl’s acne spot treatment with salicylic acid, then top it all off with Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. Anything that will dry out that pimple as fast as possible. Then I stand in front of my mirror for approximately the next three hours and wait for it to disappear (which, weirdly, it never does?).
According to board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. Her advice goes completely against everything I’d previously thought: to keep your skin healthy and clear, you have to moisturize. Like, every day.
As it turns out, that pile of drying agents I had previously heaved onto my poor, unwitting face often causes over-drying, leading your skin to over-compensate and create a rush of oil deep within, that makes your breakouts even worse, according to Dr. Gohara.
In order to keep our skin healthy and clear, the trick is to use a non-comedogenic moisturizer, which just means a light moisturizer that doesn’t clog your pores.
When you’re confronted with a zit (or two), Dr. Gohara has a two-step approach that dries the zit out, but keeps your skin moisturized. First, apply a spot treatment with benzoyl peroxide to the pimple. Then, slather on a skin-barrier supporting serum to calm inflammation.
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