When you shop for acne products — the creams, cleansers, tonics, spot treatments, serums, eye creams, etc. — it can get overwhelming very quickly. Just because you struggle with acne doesn’t mean you should have to spend a fortune on skin care products or an eternity on your daily skincare routine.
Fortunately, even the experts say you should keep it simple. So before you stress out about the perfect acne cleansers or the most impactful active ingredients, get to know the basics. Keeping your skin clean, hydrated, and protected is a good place to start. Enlisting the help of a dermatologist to identify prescription and over-the-counter products to introduce into your acne routine can take your acne-fighting powers to the next level.
Generally speaking, there are a handful of factors that contribute to acne: hormones leading to increased oil production, pores clogged by dead skin cells (follicular hyperkeratinization), inflammation, bacteria, and genetic predisposition.
And several different things can aggravate or worsen these factors. These include: UV radiation, cosmetics, diet, obesity, stress, smoking, sleep problems, medications, endocrine diseases, and even excessive face washing.
So skin care and the best skin care for acne, in particular, begins long before you stand before your bathroom sink for your nightly skin care routine. That said, getting your skin care routine right can help you manage your acne breakouts.
The best skin care routine, period, is one that you’ll stick with. The American Academy of Dermatology says, “less is more when it comes to skin care.” So keeping your routine simple is a good place to start.
Wash your face one to two times daily, and when it is dirty. As stated earlier, excessive face washing can worsen acne, so don’t be tempted to cleanse more often just because your skin is oily or you’re having a breakout.
A cleanser marked as “gentle” and non comedogenic is a good place to start, as you don’t want your cleanser to aggravate or interfere with any other acne treatments you’re using.
Don’t use an abrasive cleanser and resist the urge to scrub your skin, both of which can irritate. Rinse with lukewarm water (not too hot or too cold) and pat dry gently with a clean towel. Using the same towel day after day can reintroduce bacteria to your skin.
If you struggle with acne, chances are you’re using some form of over the counter acne treatment. Once your face is clean, use those as directed. Be wary of solutions you find over-the-counter without consulting a dermatologist. These products can often do more harm than good, and while they delay you seeking medical treatment for your acne, they can worsen your complexion.
Your healthcare provider may recommend you use topical benzoyl peroxide or a retinoid once or twice daily. Follow their instructions above all else, and use those products only as directed.
Anti-acne medications can dry the skin, which can put you in a vicious cycle of too dry, then too oily complexion. But the solution to this is not to skip a moisturizer, rather to find the right moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated without worsening your oily skin.
Look for a moisturizer that says it won’t clog your pores, one that is lightweight, and contains a sunscreen. (Some acne medications can make your skin photosensitive, or prone to sunburn, so protecting it from sun damage is particularly important.)
Acne skin care routines don’t begin and end at the bathroom sink. Here are additional steps to take throughout your day to minimize your acne breakouts and troublesome pimples:
Taking care of your skin is important, no matter your skin type. But if you struggle with acne, understanding how to best treat your complexion becomes even more important.
If you have bad habits when it comes to your skin care routine, it can worsen your acne and make your skin concerns even more pressing. In short, the best skincare routine for acne involves: keeping your face clean by gently cleansing twice daily, applying healthcare professional-recommended acne treatments, and using a moisturizer with sunscreen.
Beyond that, there are many things you can do to boost the effects of your daily regimen -- getting plenty of sleep, choosing the right cosmetics, and talking with a dermatologist will all help you maintain clear skin.