Trendy wardrobe. Spanking new backpack. How about a new iPhone? Great stuff, but what about a bright and beautiful new you too?

When asked in a recent survey, young women said the most important personal trait they desired was to have clear skin. In fact, clear skin was ranked even higher than being more attractive, thinner, smarter or taller.

The culprit? Blemishes. Half of teens surveyed said acne makes them want to hide.

Acne is the most commonly diagnosed skin disorder in the U.S., especially among teens, but it can affect women (and men) of all ages. Severe acne can cause scarring, and “zits” make 77 percent of those surveyed feel badly about themselves.

The study, conducted online by Yankelovich Partners for the American Counseling Association, also revealed that teens don’t have all the facts when it comes to creating clear skin. So let’s pop those myths:

Washing and scrubbing your face gets rid of acne. Sure, washing your face is good hygiene, but washing it a lot and scrubbing it hard will NOT clear up acne. In fact, you could just make it worse. Start now, before classes begin, by selecting a pore cleanser appropriate for your skin.

Blackheads are dirt. Wrong! Blackheads are caused by oil buildup and dead skin in the pores. When exposed to air, they turn black. It’s that simple. Taking care of your skin by washing it daily is a good thing, but don’t expect it to make blackheads go away.

Greasy foods and chocolate cause acne. Can you imagine life without an occasional side of fries or a candy bar? There is no scientific evidence firmly linking acne to poor food choices in the fast food lane. Acne is caused mainly by hormones, which cause oil buildup in the skin. You may want to cut back on pizza and candy bars for other good health reasons. Healthy foods and all the best nutrients nature has to offer can help every cell in your body to be radiant – especially your face.

Squeezing pimples will help clear up acne. Don’t touch that zit! Squeezing and picking at pimples will NOT help clear acne. In fact, “popping a zit” may cause permanent scarring.

Makeup and sunscreens make acne worse. Okay… this one is not all wrong. Some make-up, sunscreens and other facial products can aggravate acne. Choose skin care products designed not to cause zits. And, if you wear makeup, make sure to wash it off before you go to bed.

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