When you're dealing with acne (FYI, up to 50 million people in the U.S. do, according to the American Academy of Dermatology), breakouts can turn you into a bit of skin sleuth. Before you know it, you're upending your life — your skin-care routine, your diet, your stress triggers — to find out what the heck is causing your acne. According to one Redditor, it might be something as innocuous as your laundry products.
Reddit is full of skin-care advice (some tidbits more reputable than others) but a recent post in the SkincareAddiction subreddit caught our eye. User regissss shared that a month ago, they stopped using fabric softener and dryer sheets in their laundry. "My skin's recovery has been dramatic since then, and my dermatologist confirmed that dryer sheets can be a huge [acne] trigger for some people," they wrote.
Could curing your acne really be as easy as ditching dryer sheets? Potentially, according to the dermatologists we spoke with.
How Dryer Sheets Affect Your Skin
"Dryer sheets leave behind a waxy residue on fabric, which can clog pores if your skin comes in contact with the fabric," Sejal Shah, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Allure. “Dryer sheets also contain a number of chemicals and fragrance, which can cause irritation and inflammation, potentially worsening acne flares."
Dryer sheets leave behind a waxy residue on fabric, which can clog pores if your skin comes in contact with the fabric.
But the dryer sheets likely aren't actually the biggest acne triggers in this situation — grime on your pillowcase and the use of fabric softener might have more to do with breakouts.
Even if you wash your face every night before hitting the sheets, your pillowcase can get grimy from hair products, explains Lily Talakoub, a board-certified dermatologist in Virginia, so it's important to be washing it regularly to avoid irritating your skin or clogging your pores.
How to Avoid Post-Laundry Breakouts
Beyond keeping up with your chore list, laundry products could certainly be triggering breakouts, according to the experts. The dryer sheets just may not be to blame. "The amount of waxy coating on dryer sheets is very small and very little is rubbed on sheets and clothing," Talakoub tells Allure.
The amount of waxy coating on dryer sheets is very small and very little is rubbed on sheets and clothing.
Exactly how much of the pore-clogging residue gets transferred depends on the specific product, she says, but, in general, liquid fabric softeners actually tend to transfer more residue than dryer sheets. In other words, try ditching your softener before the dryer sheets to help your acne.
Since waxes and chemical fragrances in laundry products can be the culprit, it can't hurt to switch to more au natural methods. "Switching to a natural wool laundry ball with no chemicals can reduce the static and soften the fabric without any waxy residue," Talakoub says.
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