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We uncover the 5 most common acne myths here

The acne industry is full of myths and bogus claims designed to get us to part with our cash in the quest for clearer and more beautiful skin. It is astonishing to learn that some beliefs strongly entrenched in our psyche have no scientific or factual proof, and in some instances can hinder our beauty regime. Read on and weep!

Myth 1 – Blackheads are caused by dirt and can be scrubbed away

Blackheads are unrelated to dirt, but are due to hormones producing excess sebum (oil) which cannot escape from the pore which is blocked by dead skin cells. The oil rises to the surface and the subsequent oxidisation causes it to turn black.

Scrubbing might remove the top layer of the blackhead but will do nothing for the underlying problem. Only BHA (salicylic acid) and BP (Benzoyl peroxide) products can be effective as they exfoliate from inside the pore lining.

Read more on the best products which limit sebum production in our
Best acne treatment guide

Myth 2 – A cooling or tingling sensation is a sign that your acne product is really working

In actual fact such a sensation can mean the opposite as your skin is responding to irritation which can lead to inflammation and damage the skin healing process.

So the product you thought was working miracles could over time cause the collagen and elastin in your skin to breakdown, increase bacterial growth and make scarring worse.

The products which irritate to achieve this sensation often contain counter irritants such as mint, camphor, menthol and peppermint, which then reduce the inflammation. This irritant/anti-irritant process is not good for the skin, so products with these sorts of effects should be avoided.

Myth 3 – ‘Our studies show’ means a skin care product has been proven to work

Frighteningly, in the skin care world a rather ugly business exists called ‘claim substantiation,’ which creates most of those claims on our favourite brands which convince us to buy them.

Claim substantiation is a pseudo science often taking place at universities and colleges, where manufacturers pay for the intended results of their products to be proven.

This process is not legitimate scientific research, with few if any scientific controls, and produces worthless results created to try and back up the marketing hype of their products.

For example, a test subject will be told to remove her makeup and scrub her face using clear alcohol, the before photos are then taken along with measurements such as wrinkle depth, skin tone, water loss etc.

The photos and results are going to be skewed from the way in which the test subject has had her face stripped of natural oils; an unrealistic situation as most of us cleanse and moisturise using products which would leave our skin in much better condition.

The product in question is then applied and followed by after photos and measurements, these are obviously going to be better than before, but as no other products are tested at the same time we can’t quantify how much better they are, results might be minimal and other products might perform better.

This process is clearly explained in Cosmetic Claims Substantiation, Cosmetic Science and Technical Services Vol. 18 1998.

Myth 4 – Makeup causes acne

No research exists to support this myth. Those with acne can suffer breakouts due to particular ingredients in any skin care products or makeup, depending on the person’s skin type.

That is why those with problem skin need to experiment to find products which are most suitable to them. Products which are marketed as being ‘non-acnegenic’ and less likely to cause breakouts, are just fuelled by marketing hype and no scientific proof, as this meaningless phrase is not supported by any regulation from the cosmetics industry.

Myth 5 – Toothpaste heals/prevents spots

This is certainly not true and can make spots/irritation worse. The bacteria in the mouth is totally different from that in the pores.

An article featured in the Journal of the American Dental Association September 2003 explains how toothpaste can actually cause perioral dermatitis when used on the skin, which can lead to more pimples and redness.


There is so much disinformation surrounding acne skin care products that it can leave many of us unsure of which product is really worth trying. To make matters worse, many acne products currently available have no clinical testing, while some can cause further irritation and future breakouts.

Our guide on the best acne treatments examines 3 of the current best rated products, each picked due to their user feedback and the fact they work in harmony with your skin rather than against it.

Read more in our acne treatment guide

How to Prevent Acne & Spots

What Causes Acne?

how-to-prevent-acne-img1If you or someone close to you suffers from acne, you are probably here to try and figure out the best way to prevent acne from springing up.

First, though, it is important to understand what is at the root – what causes acne. In your skin, there are glands called sebaceous glands. These glands produce a type of oil called sebum.

When all is normal, sebum is a very good oil to have, as it keeps your skin moisturized. However, due to various issues, sebum can be overproduced, and it can cause your pores to get clogged. Continue reading “How To Prevent Acne” »

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