One of the worst parts of back to school is the embarrassment of acne. There are a ton of products on the market and so many articles written on the subject, but it is still a huge problem facing teens and young adults. While there are some cases that require medical attention, most acne is treated at home. There is no “cure” for acne, but there are ways to reduce it, prevent it, and treat your skin better.
The most important element of any skin care regimen is consistency. If you switch products every other week because one doesn’t seem to be working, guess what? It never will. You need to consistently use a new product for about eight weeks before you will see a drastic change in your skin.
With that said, there are basic steps you should be taking every day to keep your skin clean, hydrated and healthy.
1. Clean: Wash your face daily with a gentle cleanser, preferable one that contains salicylic acid, and always take off make up before bed.
2. Moisturize: Moisturize at least twice a day with a product containing SPF to protect skin from sun damage, which can lead to more breakouts.
: One of the most popular and effective ways to treat acne is with a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide cream. Products containing benzoyl peroxide are over-the-counter and should be applied to affected areas in moderation every night before bed.
There are also kits that contain all the products you need to treat acne:
Our reccommendation for relatively severe acne is the Proactiv 3-Step System
($39.95 on proactiv.com)
. Proactiv is very effective over time and makes a variety of products so you can tailor your regimen to your specific needs. We love the Daily Oil Control formula, which helps reduce the amount of oil on your face throughout the day without drying it out.
For mild or moderate acne, we suggest Neutrogena Advanced Solutions Complete Acne Therapy
($24.99 on drugstore.com
). The cleanser exfoliates and cleans skin without drying it, and after treating pimples with the included benzoyl peroxide cream for a few nights, they shrink considerably or disappear. We used the kit for two weeks and saw a positive change in our skin. After about a month, our skin was clear!
While these and other acne products work great over time, sometimes you need faster results.
We suggest the Zeno Mini
for pimples that are really bothering you. It’s a splurge ($89 at drugstore.com
), but definitely worth it because it will clear up a pimple in 24-48 hours using precisely controlled low-level heat to kill bacteria. The Mini can fit in your bag, in case you need to zap acne on the go.
Here are a few more tips for preventing breakouts:
- Wash your pillowcase once a week, and at least once a month wash your pillow itself. Bacteria can hide in there!
- Wipe down your cell phone often with anti-bacterial wipes.
- Don’t use your fingers to apply make up. Not only will using your fingers apply bacteria to your face, it will get bacteria in your beauty products, causing them to expire faster! Use brushes and wash them with gentle shampoo every couple weeks.
- Avoid touching your face as much as possible, and never pick at your skin or try to “pop” pimples. Instead, use the Zeno or apply a very hot washcloth to the affected area.
- Exercise daily because working out increases blood flow and reduces anxiety, which is great for your skin.
- Relax! It may seem like an evil consipracy, but stressing out about acne may cause more breakouts, some studies have shone.
As always, check with your doctor before starting a new skin care regimen!