9. Don’t lose track of your trigger foods.
Is chocolate your enemy? Are late-night McDonald’s runs getting the better of your skin? These so-called trigger foods don’t affect everyone, but Dr. Schultz warns that you should keep tabs on whether certain foods tend to correspond with sudden onset breakouts. (For example, there’s been a recent connection between skim milk and acne.) The hard part, of course, is avoiding whatever it is that’s making your skin spaz.
10. Do resist the urge to squeeze.
“It’s never a good idea to squeeze a pimple,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., founder and director of Capital Laser and Skin Care and assistant clinical professor at George Washington University Medical Center. What is OK? Drawing out a big pimple once the whitehead is poking through your skin. Dr. Tanzi recommends using a washcloth with hot—“but not scalding”—water to excavate the pus before applying your spot treatment.
11. Don’t believe every DIY hack you see.
While it’s tempting to mix up a cure-all witch’s brew of whatever drying agents you have in the house, Dr. Tanzi says she sees a lot of irritation from DIY skin care products. Even toothpaste isn’t the remedy it was when we were teens. According to Dr. Zeichner, triclosan (the ingredient in toothpaste that has antimicrobial properties) is rarely used these days. But if you are in a pinch and need to DIY it, here are some tips that are actually legit—and derm-approved.
12. Don’t opt for a stronger cleanser.
Swapping your usual face wash for something harsher seems like an obvious fix. Not quite. Your cleanser needs to be gentle so topical products can penetrate your skin, says Dr. Schultz. It’s best to stick to your regular skin care routine with a hydrating cleanser, like CeraVe Hydrating Face Cleanser, until the breakout disappears, then see a dermatologist if you think you’re in need of a full-time acne cleanser.