Cleansing Gel in Acne

Gentle washing with a mild gel cleanser will help heal acne.

Photo: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

In the war against acne, you might feel like you're dealing the enemy a mortal blow with a heavy duty cleanser that contains abrasive elements. Nothing could be further from the truth. The best way to win this war is to kill the enemy with kindness. Use a gentle wash, like a gel cleanser, to sooth your skin and gently lift away the debris at the core of acne outbreaks.

Acne Basics

Acne is the unfortunate result when your hair follicles -- yes, you do have tiny hairs all over your body -- become clogged, usually with a combination of dead skin cells and your skin’s natural lubricating oils. This blockage prevents newly manufactured oil from traveling up the hair shaft and onto your skin as nature intended. The plug may appear as a whitehead or, if the top of the pore is open to the air, it will darken and appear as a blackhead. If the pore becomes infected because of the blockage and bacteria living inside it, you may develop an unsightly pimple, with an inflamed red area around the plug. Typically, this happens either because your skin produces excess oil, you shed dead skin cells in a way that causes them to block your pores or there is bacteria present on your skin. None of these conditions is your fault, so you shouldn’t feel guilty about acne.

Gentle Cleansing

Part of the heartache of acne is that some people associate it with uncleanliness. That's not the case at all. In fact, too much washing can irritate your skin and make your acne worse. The key to relieving acne is opening up your pores to release the plugs and allow the natural oil to flow freely. Washing once or twice a day with a gentle cleanser, such as a cleansing gel, is all you need to create the best environment for healing acne. A mild gel cleanser will help remove dead skin cells and excess oil that clog up your pores without overdrying or irritating your skin.

Facial Scrubs and Harsh Cleansers

You may feel like you should scrub away at acne as you would graffiti and for the same reason -- it offends you. Don’t give in to this impulse. Facial scrubs, masks and astringents are harsh and they can irritate your skin, which will worsen your acne. Rather than removing the plugs from your pores, they may cause a reactionary inflammation. As a result, your barely visible whiteheads and blackheads may become infected, in effect increasing the number of pimples you have to battle. Stick with gentle cleansers like gels.

Fragrance and Moisturizing Additives

Ah, the fresh scent of that gentle gel cleanser! It says “clean and pure” but it’s lying to you. That wonderful illusion of freshness is the result of fragrance that manufacturers add to their cleansing products to enhance the cleansing experience. If your skin is sensitive, however, this additive can cause an allergic reaction, which can promote acne. Similarly, some gel cleansers contain moisturizers to help your skin feel softer and smoother after cleansing. Beware of any plant oils because these can clog your pores and worsen your acne or cause new outbreaks.

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