Imagine this: You're sitting in a classroom or boardroom, mere minutes from giving a presentation. You've prepared. You know the material and can answer any question thrown your way. But there's a little voice inducing anxiety. "Look at me. Look at me," it says. The little voice gets louder, simultaneously chipping away at your confidence. This voice is emanating from Fred, the name you gave the blackhead-turned-zit that now resides on your face.
Now consider this: If you had just cleaned your phone, changed your pillowcase, or swapped out your shampoo, Fred might not be alive today.
Unfortunately, acne stems from a number of things, including genetics, hormones, and things outside of our control. "Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually," according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
While many of us are just naturally prone to acne, there are some instances where you can prevent unnecessary blemishes. And it simply comes down to swapping out or cleaning up a few of your everyday essentials.
Breaking out along your hairline? While many hairspray polymers or dry shampoo starches can be the culprit, whatever you apply to your hair — including your go-to shampoo and conditioner — will touch unintended skin areas at some point. Think about it: When showering, residue product rinses out over the rest of your body. Some may be absorbed into clothes, towels, and even pillowcases, eventually clogging pores on the chest, back, and face.
This chain of events created a common problem for board-certified dermatologist Dr. Iris Rubin's clients. Naturally, the derm channeled her experiences into a the problem-solving brand called Seen. Enter: products touting sulfates-, silicones-, phthalates-, parabens-, dyes-, gluten-free and, most importantly, skin-friendly ingredients.
"I think most people would not knowingly put products on their skin that can clog their pores and lead to breakouts, though many do so every day with their hair care products," the dermatologist told Forbes. "Seen products are clinically proven to not clog pores or irritate."
In fact, this writer has tried and tested the brand's shampoo and conditioner and could not recommend it more. If you are prone to breakouts, especially around the hairline, top of the jawline, or on your back, using these products will give you more confidence that you're, at least, not making the problem worse. Yes, it's more expensive than your drugstore variety, but you're also paying for a formula, which includes hemisqualane ("nature’s answer to silicone") and chamomile. Think of it as paying for less acne products in the long run.
Shop: SEEN Essential Bundle, $50, available at SEEN
Raise your hand if you've ever noticed a little bit of earwax on your earbuds. Don't worry — we've been there. Wax aside, your headphones — which touch hair, sweat, and common surface areas like a desk or gym floor — can be a breeding ground for bacteria. We don't need to be a fancy dermatologist to know bacteria causes acne. So, here's a reminder to do your ears a solid and clean your headphones once a week.
For those looking for convenience, there's cleaner recommendation below. Or, simply dampen a soft cloth with some rubbing alcohol and wipe down those surfaces. Use a cotton tip for smaller areas. Don't forget to read the headphone manufacturer's notes for special instruction on how to properly clean them (read: you don't want water reaching those electrical bits, right?).
Shop: Hosa Goby Labs Headphone Cleaner, $21.95, available at Amazon
Apologies for this blanket statement and visual ahead — but your phone screen is probably really gross. Not only does it catch the oils and dirt on your face and fingers, but think about all the food, dust, and whatever is in the bathroom while you're scrolling through Instagram on the toilet. To put this in perspective, "scientists at the University of Arizona have found that cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats," according to a Time article.
A regular wipe-down never hurt anybody. Pre-moistened cloths are easy, inexpensive, and won't damage your screen. Here at Honey, we use iCloth for all of our tech products. Why? Because it's made of an aerospace-approved fabric moistened with a 75% purified, ammonia- and ethyl alcohol-free water formula. Yay for no weird residue streaks.
Shop: iCloth Small Lens Screen Cleaning Wipes, $10.49, available at Amazon
Bacne: It's a thing and it sucks. Like facial blemishes, the causes can range from genes to diet. However, it can also come down to something as simple as hygiene. We get it — you went hard at your neighborhood spin class. The natural next step is to spray some dry shampoo in your hair, wash your face, and meet your friends up for a much-deserved boozy brunch, right? Slow it down, friend. Take five minutes to wash off the sweat you just accrued in your latest 50-minute session and change into fresh clothes. The longer you live in your workout wear, the longer your pores have time to fill up with undesirables. Remember: Moist areas are a breeding ground — your back and gym clothes included.
After washing your body, spray on a solution containing at least 2% salicylic acid, which is a common acne-fighting ingredient that helps dissolve debris from pores. There are lot of offerings on the market, including effective options from Murad and Neutrogena, but we're big fans of the one from Paula's Choice — you can hold the bottle in almost any direction, and the nozzle will spray toward those hard-to-get areas. It's the little things.
Shop: Paula's Choice Clear Acne Body Spray, $25, available at Paula's Choice Skincare
Makeup mavens know that cleaning brushes and sponges are a must. Just think about all the dirt and oil those babies are subjected to in a mere week. While professional makeup artists give their brushes a cleanse after every use and a deep clean every week, the average beauty buff is probably cleaning them way less frequently. So, when you're feeling lazy and you rationalize, "Oh, I'll just clean it next time," just think of the recycled oil that's living on your brush and how you're literally applying it into your pores. Instead of taking a few minutes to clean that one brush, you have to live with a zit named Fred for two weeks.
Luckily, you don't have to buy expensive brand-name makeup shampoo or cleansers. There's an 18-in-1 multi-use product that celebrities and makeup artists swear by: hemp soap. In fact, a certain newly minted duchess calls it one of her favorite organic washes; while, an A-list actress uses it to wash her hair. Many celeb makeup pros use it to clean their brushes. When big names publicly support a $10 product without being paid to do so, can you really refuse to just try it?
Shop: Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap - Lavender, $9.99, available at Target
Who pretty much sleeps in a pool of moisturizing, skin-correcting beauty products? Unless you don't ever move while snoozing, chances are much of that product — and the money used to buy said products — will have been absorbed by your pillowcase come morning. Not to make matters worse, but the bacteria that is growing by the new moistened state of your pillow may cause more blemishes...until you wash your bedding, that is. Fortunately, the fabrics you sleep on can help with that. It comes at a price, but the fibers in silk pillowcases not only help keep the products on your skin but prevent static and hair breakage, too!
You don't wear any nighttime products, so this doesn't apply to you, right? Wrong. This fancy little pillowcase doesn't pull at the skin, like cotton or polyester-blends do, which helps prevent wrinkles and those annoying face creases you tend to wake up with in the morning.
Shop: slip for beauty sleep Slipsilk Pure Silk Pillowcase, $85-$105, available at Nordstrom
If Hawaii banned chemical sunscreens, which contain active ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, to protect its coral reefs, should you think twice before using said sunscreens on your face and body? The truth is there are pros and cons of each. While chemical sunscreens aren't necessarily awful for your body — compounds help dissipate harmful UV Rays — they can also clog pores, which is why many dermatologists recommend using mineral sunscreens. Instead of oxybenzone and octinoxate, your ingredient MVPs are natural minerals called zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which essentially act a barrier on your skin and reflect harmful UV rays away. Something else to note: Mineral sunscreen is also recommended for delicate baby skin, which chemical sunscreen is not due its penetrating skin properties.
Don't wear SPF because it feels too heavy or messes up your makeup? Mineral sunscreen comes in powder and spray form. Trust — it'll help in the long run.
Shop: COOLA Mineral Body Sunscreen SPF 50, $36, available at Sephora