How To Press The Reset Button On Your Skin When You're Having A Breakout

Acne spots always seem to strike at the most inopportune times — like when you have a job interview, just before a big first date, or while you're on vacation and trying to embrace those makeup-free beach days. Unfortunately, breakouts are simply a fact of life for 12% to 22% of adult women, according to an article published in "The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology," and they can be caused by many things. Some eruptions come monthly, right around menstruation, while others continuously pop up due to genetics (per Healthline). There's also skin purging, where pimples form in response to active ingredients in skincare products.


A dermatologist can help get to the bottom of what's causing your acne, especially when it refuses to clear up. But for your run-of-the-mill, came-out-of-nowhere breakout, resetting with healthy habits and an update to your skincare routine is usually enough to repair your complexion.

Here's how to banish your blemishes and get your face looking good as new.

First, do a lifestyle audit

You've probably heard by now that what happens inside your body can impact how your skin looks on the outside. Therefore, if you've been hit with the dreaded pepperoni pizza face look, your acne spots may be related to other changes to your health. To reset your skin, dermatologist Dr. Katherine Armour suggests starting with everyday lifestyle factors. She told MamaMia, "Stress and inadequate sleep can both lead to elevated blood cortisol levels, which can trigger breakouts. Whilst dealing with stress can be tricky in today's fast-paced world, prioritizing your sleep can do wonders for your skin."


Going a little hard on sweets can also wreck your complexion. "It's clear that high glycemic index foods can contribute to breakouts in some individuals," Armour explained. According to Healthline, that includes white bread, breakfast cereals, potatoes, sugary drinks, and most foods loaded with added sugar.

Caring for your body with plenty of rest, a healthy diet, and a de-stress ritual (like meditation or yoga) may be just what your skin needs to recover.

Products to use -- and avoid -- during a breakout

Harsh products are the only way to tame a random, out-of-control breakout, right? Wrong, says dermatologist Dr. Julie Russak of Russak Dermatology Clinic. "Treat your skin like you would treat a cold," she shared with Byrdie. "Instead of doing more and more to it, try and let the body repair itself by being gentle with your skin." That means going easy on actives, exfoliants, and anything that further irritates your inflamed blemishes.


In their place, opt for gentle, soothing products, though don't overdo it. "People often reach for home remedies or lotions to help soothe the skin, but some of them could cause irritation, and thick moisturizers can actually clog pores and prevent skin regeneration. Instead, just go back to basics," Dr. Batul Patel, medical director and dermatologist, told Vogue India.

That includes a mild cleanser, an oil-free moisturizer, and an acne spot treatment where needed. If acne isn't an ongoing issue, stick to low-strength benzoyl peroxide, adapalene, or salicylic acid (per Mayo Clinic). While you wait for your skin to heal, keep makeup to a minimum and avoid letting hair products come in contact with your face. If you don't see an improvement after a few weeks, talk to your dermatologist about your skin concerns.