Struggling to get rid of acne? Your pillowcase may be to blame

Fitness trainer Kayla Itsines recently shared a makeup-free selfie and details about her skincare routine on Instagram. We were surprised to learn that the 24-year-old social media star credits her gorgeous glow to her pillowcase: “I LOVE looking after my skin and making sure it’s always clean and fresh,” she wrote. “I do this by changing my pillow case [sic] every 3 days.”

As someone who switches her pillowcase once a week (at most…), my first thought when I read this caption was Seriously? Yet another nighttime skincare step I have to worry about? But Itsines may be on to something: Experts say if you have acne-prone skin, cozying up to clean fabric at night may help keep your complexion clear.

“Dirt, bacteria, and often makeup collect on a pillowcase,” says Debra Jaliman, a New York City-based dermatologist and creator of the Sea Radiance skincare line. To prevent new breakouts from developing overnight, she recommends switching your pillowcase anywhere from every few days to daily (more often if you regularly wear makeup or are particularly acne-prone.)

And yes, these guidelines apply even if you wash your face right before bed each night. After cleansing, “there will still be oil and bacteria on the skin,” Dr. Jaliman explains.

The type of pillowcase you use matters, too. Although silk pillowcases are often recommended for fighting fine lines and frizz, a breathable fabric like cotton may be better when it comes to preventing breakouts. Look for a brand that’s made from 100% cotton, such as Utopia Bedding 100% Cotton Pillowcases ($30 for a dozen; amazon.com). They come in packs of 12, so you’ll have plenty of spares to last you until next laundry day.

Also important: When washing your pillowcase, “it’s better to use fragrance-free detergent and to avoid fabric softeners,” says Dr. Jaliman. This is especially true if you have sensitive skin; opt for a dye-free, fragrance-free formula (they’ll often have the phrase “free and clear” on the label).

The 5 Best Products to Fight Body Acne

Getting rid of acne on your face is hard enough. But fighting body acne (sometimes referred to as “bacne”) is a whole other challenge.

You just finished healing that cystic pimple on your chin, and now you can feel another breakout popping up between your shoulder blades. What gives?

Whether it’s on your back, butt, or torso, body acne is a pain, especially when warmer temps roll around and you’re ready to show more skin. You probably already know that you should use body cleansers and topical treatments that contain skin-clearing ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, just like you would on your face, to fight breakouts at the source.

But Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, recommends keeping a few other factors in mind, as well. She suggests making sure all the other products you’re putting on your body are oil-free formulations and looking for lotions that contain aloe or glycerin. “Aloe is soothing for acne-prone skin,” she explains. “And glycerin is moisturizing but won’t clog pores.”

Here, our top picks for body acne treatments that will help you get rid of all-over pimples for good.

1 Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Prescription Strength Retinoid Acne Treatment

We’ve often recommended this powerful pimple- and wrinkle-fighter-the only retinoid available without a prescription-for your face, but you can use it on your body as well. “Differin Gel is highly effective in keeping pores open and minimizing breakouts, and it is better tolerated than most retinoids,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.

2 Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash

You can’t go wrong with this classic drugstore body wash, a favorite of Dr. Jaliman’s. It contains 2% salicylic acid to gently target breakouts anywhere on the body, as well as glycerin and aloe leaf extract to keep skin soft and moisturized, not dried-out.

3 Yuni Shower Sheets

It’s always a good idea to shower ASAP after a workout, and not just to prevent body acne (although it can make a big difference): The dark, moist environment of yoga pants can also enable yeast and bacteria to thrive down there. Don’t have time for a full shower in between SoulCycle and brunch? At the very least, change out of your sweaty gym clothes and wipe down acne-prone areas with these pre-moistened body wipes; they cleanse and refresh skin with ingredients like peppermint and antibacterial neem extract, and they’re small enough to stash in your gym bag.

4 Mario Badescu A.H.A. Botanical Body Soap

In addition to salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, another great acne-fighter to look for in a body wash is alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), says Ava Shamban, MD, a Beverly Hills dermatologist and founder of SKINxFIVE. This budget-friendly Mario Badescu cleanser also contains oat protein to soothe sensitive skin and papaya and grapefruit extracts to exfoliate.

5 PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash 10% Benzoyl Peroxide

This foaming body wash contains 10% benzoyl peroxide and “is great for back acne,” says Dr. Jaliman. “If you need the highest concentration of benzoyl peroxide available without a prescription, try this product.”

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