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Basic Acne Hygiene

One of the myths about acne is that poor hygiene is a cause. This completely false idea can lead to acne sufferers feeling wrongly judged as dirty and unnecessarily avoided. Whilst the causes of acne have been shown to be genetic factors along with hormonal triggers and NOT poor hygiene, taking care of your skin in the proper way assists the healing process to be much greater and faster.

Many of society's illness were overcome, or improved greatly at least, with the advancement of good hygiene practices. Did you know that in centuries past, surgery was done in unclean rooms, no hand-washing or wound-cleaning was done as a matter of course, surgical instruments and even sheets were re-used from patient to patient? We now know that basic cleanliness is crucial to good health because of infection risks.

The biggest factors that make acne a problem are clogged pores and the bacteria that build up in them. For this reason, cleansing the skin is important to prevent the re-infection from one pore to another.


Many studies on cleansing have been done that show an improvement in acne and the best routine is washing your face twice a day – morning and night. Less than this is not enough and more than this doesn't seem any better and sometimes has been shown to make the situation worse by irritating the skin too much.

Of course, if you are going out at night you will wash before applying make-up and again on your return home to remove the make-up before going to bed.


There are many cleansers on the market, with different types for dry, normal and oily skin. Some are medicated, some are from natural ingredients, some are foamy cleansers whilst others have a rough texture to help exfoliate the top layer of (dead) skin cells. The two main things you need to look for are the words "non-comedogenic" and "medicated" (or "anti-bacterial").

Non-comedogenic means that the ingredients won't clog your pores.

Medicated or Anti-bacterial means it helps to fight the bacteria in the pores.


It is best to discuss with your pharmacist which option suits you individually rather than just choose something off the shelf for yourself. This is because each type will have benefits and also some side-effects that you need to know about; for example, you may not be able to go out in the sun. You don't want to be wasting your money or purchasing something that may make your face worse. You may also need something more, such as a medicated cream to apply after washing your face and your pharmacist can suggest this or refer you to your doctor if a prescription is needed.


The following is a general approach towards washing your face. It is a basic routine that everyone should do, regardless of how bad your acne is. Follow the steps as they apply to your particular routine.

First of all, get your bathroom sink area ready with your cleansers, toners, moisturisers, creams etc.

You will also need hand soap, hair-band or hair-clips, clean hand-towel, clean face towel, some face-pads or cotton-wool balls.


  1. Wash your hands with the hand soap under warm running water, then dry them on your clean hand towel. This is very important so that you are not using dirty hands to clean your face.
  2. Hold your hair back away from your face with a hair band or clips.
  3. Wet your face with warm water.
  4. Apply cleanser, using your fingertips in a gentle, circular motion. Make sure you clean your forehead, right up to your hairline, under your chin and even down onto your neck.
  5. Rinse off with warm water.
  6. Pat gently dry with clean face towel.
  7. Use a cotton-wool ball or pad to apply toner. Pat or wipe gently, covering all areas just cleansed.
  8. Wait for this to dry, it shouldn't take long.
  9. Apply moisturiser, again using your fingertips in a gentle motion and covering your whole face and neck. Moisturising your neck from a young age will reduce your risk of a wrinkly neck later in life.

Further steps may include applying a sunscreen (although a good daytime moisturiser should have an SPF of at least 15) and good quality make-up if you are going out. Don't forget to remove your make-up when you get home!

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