Thanks to hormonal changes that increase the skin’s oil production during puberty, acne is a common problem for teens. But acne doesn’t end when we reach adulthood – many adults also experience frequent breakouts.
Walk down the skin care aisle at your favorite retailer or search for “acne products” on Google, and you’ll be presented with an overwhelming amount of choices. How do you know which products are the best fit for you? There’s no one-size-fits-all option to address acne, but a great place to start is with the right acne facial cleanser.
The skin care experts at The Derm help people of all ages prevent and successfully treat acne. Whatever acne questions you have or guidance you need, we’re here for you every step of the way.
What is acne?
Acne is a skin condition that affects most people at some point in their lifetime. Studies show that 80% of people will have at least a mild form of acne by the time they reach age 30. Some acne breakouts are severe, leaving physical and emotional scars behind.
Acne occurs when excess oil clogs the pores of your skin, trapping bacteria inside. The most common locations for acne are the places where you have the most oil glands, including your face, shoulders, chest, and upper back.
The hormonal changes that come with puberty are just one cause of acne. Family history, diet, stress, and certain medications can also trigger or worsen acne – explaining why so many adults still struggle with it.
Tips for dealing with acne
Whether you’re a teen or an adult, one of the best ways to deal with acne is to follow a consistent skin care routine, including:
- Washing twice a day with warm water and an acne cleanser (preferably in the morning and evening)
- Washing after you exercise or sweat
- Applying oil-free moisturizer after washing
- Removing all makeup at the end of the day
You may be tempted, but never pop, pick, or squeeze your acne. Letting your skin heal naturally helps prevent scars from forming.
It takes an average of 1-2 weeks for mild acne breakouts to clear up on their own – and a good skin care routine can help speed up this process. Severe acne may take several weeks or months to improve, even with treatment.
Acne can affect your appearance and self-esteem at any age, especially when it’s severe. You can count on The Derm to guide you through every step of acne treatment, including choosing the right acne facial cleanser and other products.
Choosing your acne products
Acne products work in different ways based on their active ingredients. Which ones are best for you will depend on your skin type, acne type, and skin care preferences.
Some ingredients to look for in acne facial cleaners and other products include:
- Benzoyl peroxide – Removes excess oil and dead skin cells and also kills the bacteria that causes acne (available without a prescription in strengths from 2.5% to 10%)
- Adapalene – A retinoid that helps unclog pores and prevent new breakouts (available without a prescription in 0.1% strength)
- Salicylic acid – Also helps unclog pores and prevent new breakouts (available without a prescription in strengths from 0.5% to 2%)
- Azelaic acid – A mildly antibacterial ingredient that prevents pores from becoming clogged and corrects any dark spots after acne clears (available without a prescription in 10% strength)
With so many ingredient choices, and so many different products that use them, it’s easy to feel confused – perhaps even overwhelmed. You don’t want to choose a product that harms your skin or makes your acne worse. Here are some general tips that can help:
- Begin with benzoyl peroxide and adapalene – Start with a product that contains benzoyl peroxide or adapalene, which are both usually well-tolerated. Even better, use a product that contains both to maximize results.
- Look for lower-strength products first – Lower-strength acne products can help minimize dry skin, inflammation, and other concerns. If necessary, slowly increase the strength of the product and how often you use it over several weeks to help your skin adjust.
- Find the right product type – There’s no shortage of acne product types, including creams, gels, ointments, foams, soaps, and wipes. They all have advantages and disadvantages – for example, ointments absorb into your skin well but may feel greasy. Wipes are quick and convenient but can dry your skin. You may have to experiment to find your favorite product type.
- Use multiple products if needed – Stubborn acne may require more than one product or active ingredient. For instance, you could use one product in the morning and another before bed.
- Be patient – It can take weeks or months of using non-prescription acne products before you see results – and acne can worsen before it gets better. Contact The Derm with any questions or concerns.
Skin care tips when using acne products
While washing twice a day and using your acne product(s) of choice, there are other things you can do to help keep your skin clean and clear:
- Opt for oil-free – Use oil-free moisturizer (as mentioned above), makeup, and other skin and hair care products to avoid clogged pores. Don’t want to give up your favorite hair oil? Apply it to the middle of your scalp and the ends of your hair, keeping it away from your forehead and face.
- Gentle is good – Avoid things like facial scrubs, masks, and astringents, which can irritate your skin and worsen acne.
- Stay out of the sun – The sun can worsen any dark spots that linger after your acne clears, and some acne products can make you more prone to sunburn. Always wear oil-free sunscreen when you go outdoors.
- Watch for other acne risks – Hair, cell phones, hats, tight collars, backpack straps, and other items can inadvertently transfer oil and sweat to your skin.
And as an extra reminder, never pop, pick, or squeeze your acne, which increases your risk of infection and scarring.
How to apply acne products for the best results
Be sure to apply a thin layer of product to the entire area, not just the acne spots you can see. By using the product on all your acne-prone skin, you not only treat existing acne – you also help prevent future breakouts.
Who should see a board-certified dermatologist?
Great news: it’s never the wrong time to see The Derm for acne treatment! Even the mildest acne can benefit from professional care.
If your acne doesn’t improve after 2-3 months of using non-prescription products, or you begin to develop dark spots after the acne clears, contact us to learn more about prescription options.
Schedule an appointment at The Derm
You don’t have to worry about picking the right acne facial cleanser or other products on your own. With three convenient locations in Glenview, Park Ridge, and Wilmette, The Derm is dedicated to providing exceptional skin care. To get started with acne treatment, schedule an appointment today.