Conspiracy theory time: If zits aren’t trying to get in the way of us living our best — or at least, most Instagrammable — lives, then why do they always seem to materialize right before every big event or party? These gross little growths have a life of their own, and we're sick of it.
But it may be time to put down the benzoyl peroxide because, as a new study published in Scientific Reports has revealed, the popular strain of acne known as P. acnes — one of our skin’s most notorious villains — has been hiding a positive quality. Turns out, it secretes a protein that can protect molecules in the skin against oxidative stress, like UV radiation (caused by sun exposure). This protein, known as RoxP, not only reduces free radicals, it can also help protect skin from common diseases like psoriasis, skin cancer, and atopic dermatitis. That's right: This particular type of acne can actually be good for you. Does this mean that those of us with major zits are less likely to get psoriasis or don’t have to wear as much SPF as our clear-complexioned comrades? Not exactly. The P. acnes strain is actually present skin that’s both blemished and clear, though those with skin diseases are shown to have less of it. But it’s comforting to know that the very thing that causes heartache in those of us who just want clear skin (read: all of us) is also working to keep it healthy in other ways.