Effective Acne-Fighting Skin-Care Routines Recommended by Dermatologists

Experts will tell you how to keep your skin clear from morning to night. Unfortunately, acne isn't limited to teens. Even if you haven't walked through a high school auditorium in decades, you may still wake up with a large red zit on your nose, or a few white zits on your cheeks.

In fact, the battle with blackheads, blackheads, pimples, and cystic acne continues well into menopause. However, clearer skin is possible if you focus on the right acne products and stick to a regular skin care routine.

"People in their 30s, 40s and 50s come into my office with acne every day," says Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and author of Skin Rules: A Trade Secret Debra Jaliman, M.D. says.

From New York's Top Dermatologists. "I tell them we can definitely get it under control, but it's like exercising - you have to stick to your routine every day."

However, with the endless stream of products claiming to deeply cleanse your skin and get rid of acne permanently, choosing a simple, actionable system can be overwhelming. That's why we asked three top dermatologists to break it down for you.

What Exactly Is Acne - How Does It Form? Your skin has millions of tiny oil glands that connect to hair follicles throughout your body and produce an oil called sebum to protect your skin. However, something can happen that prevents the oil from being properly expelled through the hair follicle.

Hormones cause the sebaceous glands to work overtime, and the excess sebum they produce can become clogged with dead skin cells, clogging pores and causing acne. For teens, the onset of puberty often triggers a hormonal surge, but hormonal acne is also common in adults, says Howard Sobel, MD.

Starting or changing birth control pills can speed up oil production and cause pimples to form. When you're stressed (and who hasn't been stressed lately?), your body also produces cortisol, which can stimulate the sebaceous glands and lead to breakouts.

Pores can also become clogged due to irritation or a reaction to a certain product or fabric (like a hat and, yes, a mask during a pandemic), the Dr. adds. Sobel added. In some cases, acne-like breakouts can also be caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the hair follicles, especially on the upper chest and upper back.

Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, may cause acne, according to Dr. Jaliman may also be linked to having too much dairy in your diet. The best way to find out the cause of acne is to consult a dermatologist.

When these pores become clogged, various forms of acne can result, including: Whiteheads: This type of acne occurs when excess oil and dead skin cells clog the pore opening; it looks like small flesh-colored or white bumps.

Blackheads: Similar to whiteheads, but when the pore-clogging substance penetrates and is exposed to the air, it reacts with oxygen and turns black.

Acne: Classic red spots form when bacteria, oil, and dead skin lodge in pores, causing inflammation. Cystic acne: These hard, painful bumps feel like marbles under the skin — they form when oil, dead skin, and bacteria penetrate deep into the skin.

The Best Skincare Routine to Prevent Acne. The first thing you should do is double-check all the products you use on your skin (including makeup) and hair, says Dr. "The biggest mistake people make with acne is using too many products and not checking the ingredient labels," she says.

Look for words like "non-comedogenic," "non-comedogenic," or "oil-free." The products you use say they don't contain any oily, comedogenic ingredients, she says. Then follow these six skincare steps recommended by dermatologists every day:

Step 1: Wash your face - gently! While you might be tempted to wipe your face off like you would scrape dirt off your favorite shoe, that can actually make things worse, says Dr. Elyse M. Love, Spring Street Dermatology, NY.

"Patients often assume that acne is due to excess dirt or oil on the skin and try to over cleanse and exfoliate," she says. "While regular cleansing is important, acne is an inflammatory condition, so over-cleansing can actually irritate the skin and further exacerbate the process," adds Sobel.

Damages the skin's protective barrier, which can lead to further breakouts, irritation, redness, and uneven skin texture and tone." All three dermatologists I spoke to recommend washing your face in the morning with a gentle foaming cleanser. But the choice is yours:

If you want to go for a separate topical treatment—or if your doctor prescribes RX Acne Medication—then stick with a gentle, non-medicated cleanser, like B. Neutrogena Ultra Daily Face Wash for Sensitive Skin. However, if you want to combine the first two steps, use a foaming cleanser with acne-fighting ingredients.

If you have whiteheads or blackheads, look for a cleanser that contains salicylic acid to loosen the damaged skin surface and remove dead skin cells before they can lodge in pores (try Medik8 Clarifying Foam, which also contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties). anti-inflammatory tea tree oil).

If you have red, inflammatory acne, look for a cleanser that contains benzoyl peroxide, which fights surface bacteria (CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser contains benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide, which Dr. and ceramides; or try PanOxyl Foaming Cleanser with 10% Benzoyl Peroxide).

It's important to note that how you cleanse your skin is just as important as the products you use. So remove harsh towels, sponges or other irritating materials. Dr. Jaliman recommends using a cotton swab or baby washcloth to apply the cleanser. However, it's important to use a clean washcloth every day so you're not just wiping old grime off your face.

You can even use your hands to squirt enough water to rinse off the cleaner, says Dr. Love, however, cautions against using only lukewarm water, as hot water can irritate the skin, but a spritz of cold water afterward balances, tightens, and refreshes the skin, adds Dr. Sobel added.

Step 2: Apply Acne Medication If you decide to use a simple cleanser in step 1, you have the opportunity to target the skin with a more effective cleanser.

After washing, allow skin to dry—patting rather than rubbing with a soft washcloth—and then try an over-the-counter treatment like CeraVe Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Gel or La Roche-Posay Dual Action Acne Treatment. Experts say it takes at least six weeks for over-the-counter treatments to work.

If you still don't see results at this point, you should consult a dermatologist who can prescribe you a stronger medication such as dapsone gel. Dr. Love offers this sage advice: "If you live in an area where it takes three months to see a dermatologist, make an appointment as soon as you start using over-the-counter drugstore alternatives," she advises. "Cancel anytime if you don't need it!"

Step 3: Apply a non-greasy moisturizer If you're worried about oily skin and clogged pores, moisturizer might seem unnecessary, but it's actually the opposite: "Moisturizers help balance your skin's oil production," says Dr. Love "they also help acne sufferers tolerate acne medications" that often cause acne to dry out. The key is to stick to an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer. Love's favorite is La Roche-Posay's Double Repair Facial Moisturizer.

Dr. Galliman recommends a non-comedogenic aloe moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid to protect collagen. The one that's right for you: Fresh Rituals Aloe Moisturizer Cream. Other non-comedogenic options include Cetaphil Gentle Clear and Aveeno Clear Complexion, both of which contain a small amount of salicylic acid. For more top-tested recommendations from the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab, click here to view our List of the best moisturizers for acne-prone skin.

Step 4: Don't Forget Sunscreen Sunscreen is a critical step in protecting your skin from UV rays. However, if you have acne-prone skin, you should choose a sunscreen that won't clog pores or make breakouts worse. Jaliman, EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum Sunscreen is a favorite with SPF because it contains anti-inflammatory Niacinamide to reduce redness. Another sunscreen recommended by the GH Beauty Lab experts: La Roche Anthelios SPF 60 Dry Touch Clear Skin Sunscreen, which feels lightweight to the touch.

Step 5: Clean again at night When you cleanse your face at night, you want products that gently remove the makeup, oil, and dirt that build up on your face during the day, says Dr. Sobel recommends a surfactant-free gel cleanser like Vichy Normaderm Phytoaction Daily Deep Cleansing Gel, which contains salicylic acid and is a GH staff favorite. If you decide to use a toner afterward, just make sure it's oil-free, says Dr. Jaliman, like our list of the best toners for acne-prone skin. Meanwhile, Dr. Love to double cleanse, first with a micellar water (try Avene, Gabier, or Bioderma) and then with a cleanser.

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