5 Acne Myths You’ve Gotta Stop Believing, According to Dr. Pimple Popper

Dermatologist Sandra Lee, MD, has literally made a name for herself popping pimples. Dr. Lee, better known as Dr. Pimple Popper, has built her brand on excavation videos both for her YouTube channel and her TV show on TLC, as well as an extensive skin-care line called SLMD Skincare.

It's fair to say that no one knows more about breakouts than Dr. Lee, so we asked the pimple-popping pro about the most common skin-care misconceptions when it comes to treating acne. Ahead, Dr. Lee is breaking down the five acne myths you've gotta stop believing.

Myth: Having Acne Means Your Skin is “Dirty”
Getty | AleksandarNakic

Myth: Having Acne Means Your Skin is “Dirty”

Good news: your late-night slice of pizza probably isn't going to cause acne — that is, unless you rub it all over your face, says Dr. Lee.

The truth is that having acne doesn't mean your skin is dirty, on the inside or out. While there's a tendency to think that acne is the result of not washing your face or sheets enough or eating too much oily food, Dr. Lee says acne isn't your fault. "The truth really is that it has to do with hormones and genetics," she said.

When your hormones are raging — as they usually are in your teenager years — your skin produces more oil. So, naturally, you're going to break out, says Dr. Lee. The same holds true for adult women, who tend to break out during ovulation or in the days leading up to their menstrual cycle. Likewise, pregnancy can affect your skin. "Either it can make your acne worse or it can make it better, just depending on the hormone level," Dr. Lee said.

Myth: Toothpaste Can Heal a Blemish
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Myth: Toothpaste Can Heal a Blemish

This myth has stood the test of time, but Dr. Lee says it's not ideal — and may not even work in most cases depending on the ingredients of the toothpaste. While it's true that toothpaste might help dry out your pimple, it can also leave you with dry, irritated, flaky, and peeling red skin. "I'd much rather people spot treat with a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide treatment," she said.

Myth: You Can Prevent Pimples by Extracting Blackheads at Home
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Myth: You Can Prevent Pimples by Extracting Blackheads at Home

It can be tempting to pop the whitehead growing on your chin, especially if you've been watching too many YouTube videos, but it's best to leave it to the pros like Dr. Pimple Popper.

"It's like this beautiful dance, like you're kind of watching something that looks so beautiful, and it looks so nimble . . . but it's a whole other thing to actually do it yourself," Dr. Lee said. Just like that DIY project that looked a whole lot easier online, extracting blackheads is harder than it looks.

Instead, Dr. Lee suggests using Bioré The Original Deep Cleansing Pore Strips ($6) weekly for at-home extractions that won't traumatize your skin. "[Bioré strips] can really help to extract blackheads — in a satisfying way, too," she said. Plus, it's safer than picking and pulling at your skin with instruments you probably shouldn't be using at home.

Myth: Washing Your Face More Prevents Breakouts
POPSUGAR Photography | Mark Popovich

Myth: Washing Your Face More Prevents Breakouts

Truth: "One thing that my patients make a mistake at is probably cleaning their face too much," Dr. Lee said. Overwashing your skin can actually cause more harm than help."

Don't overanalyze your skin issues. "There are answers out there, and they're over-the-counter answers, and there are things that can help you with your face," Dr. Lee said. "The basic is to know that it's not your fault and don't overdo it."

Myth: You Can “Shrink” Your Pores
POPSUGAR Photography | Diggy Lloyd

Myth: You Can “Shrink” Your Pores

Truth: "You cannot permanently change your pore size," Dr. Lee said. But, "you can minimize the appearance of them. If you have something that's always plugging your pores, it can continually dilate [them] a little bit more, keeping them a little bit larger," Dr. Lee explained. Also, "as we get older our skin loses its elasticity, so your pores are going to naturally dilate."

And be wary of products and services that claim they can reduce the size of your pores. "There's so many companies out there or lasers that like to say they can shrink your pores, and that's simply not true," Dr. Lee said. "I think the best kind of measure is try to be proactive about it: try to help prevent them from dilating too much or enlarging too much."