Dealing with acne can be tough! Between the countless cleansing products and strange home remedies out there, it can be hard to know what you should and shouldn’t do to clear up your skin. We enlisted dermatologist Dr. Ted Lain to help you get it right for good.
Don’t wash your face too much. Wash it twice a day and no more. While over-cleansing won’t make acne worse, it can cause dryness and inflammation, making your skin feel feel itchy and tender.
Do look for cleansers with either alpha hydroxy acids (lactic or glycolic) or beta hydroxy acids (salicyclic), or even better, a combination of the two. Check the bottle for those ingredients before you buy it.
Don’t use exfoliating scrubs too often because they can irritate inflamed skin, causing tiny tears. Instead, use a chemical exfoliant, such as a cleanser with lactic or glycolic acid that doesn’t have those rough scrubbers.
Don’t pick, pop, squeeze, or otherwise mess with your skin. Squeezing blemishes or whiteheads can lead to scarring. And an open wound can get infected—ick!
Do use mineral makeup, preferably a powder. Powder mineral makeup is completely inert, meaning the makeup can’t support bacteria growth.
Do treat body acne. Use an antibacterial soap or a benzoyl peroxide wash on your back and other areas of your body where you have acne.
Do see a dermatologist if your skin doesn’t respond to over the counter products. Some forms of acne are harder to kick and require stronger medications. A dermatologist can prescript stronger topical and/or oral prescription-strength acne meds such as Retin–A or Accutane designed to treat more severe acne.
Do wait 20 to 30 minutes after washing your face to apply acne creams. That will make your skin feel less sensitive to stronger creams like Retin–A.
Do apply topical acne medications to the entire problem area, not just the zits you have now. The idea is to stop new zits from forming.
Don’t pick at your skin. Picking at zits not only can make them worse, but it can also lead to permanent scarring. Instead, cleanse your skin and apply a topical treatment.
Don’t forget to wash your pillowcase and phone! Dirt and bacteria can transfer from your phone, pillowcase, and anything else that touches your face and clog your pores. Wash your pillowcase about once a week and clean off your phone with an anti-bacterial wipe every few days.