If you look in the mirror and see big, red pimples on your skin, you’re not alone. An August 2009 study published in the peer-reviewed “Biomaterials” medical journal reported that 40 million Americans and 85 percent of all American teenagers suffer from acne. It may be common, but it’s not without a cure. Several skincare products and lifestyle modifications can help you fight acne, reduce skin redness and clear up your skin for a perfect, pimple-free complexion.
Toss out all masks, toners, skin scrubs and astringents that you may have in your medicine cabinet, recommends the American Academy of Dermatology. The academy warns that such skincare products, despite their marketing, don't help your acne and can often make your skin condition even worse.
Wash your skin in the morning when you wake up. Use a gentle, water-soluble cleanser—it doesn’t need to be labeled for acne skin—and lukewarm water, advises skincare tester Paula Begoun, author of “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me.” This clears off surface dirt and oils that might clog your pores.
Pat a towel across your skin to dry it. Don’t rub, because that can irritate your existing pimples and force any surface particles deeper into your pores.
Smooth on an acne treatment cream or serum. "Shape" magazine's health editors recommend using a cream formulated with benzoyl peroxide, which works as an antibacterial agent to kill the pimple-causing bacteria. Alternatively, try salicylic acid, which dermatologist Leslie Baumann says in "Real Simple" magazine will penetrate your pores and combat pimples.
Apply cosmetic products, such as concealer or foundation, only after allowing the acne cream to soak into your skin for five minutes. If you use such cosmetics, make sure they’re labeled “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free,” says the American Academy of Dermatology, otherwise they may clog your pores and aggravate your pimples.
Change your hair style if necessary. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests avoiding any haircare products that contain oil or wax, such as pomades, because they can rub off of your hair and onto your skin where they’ll make your acne worse. If you absolutely must use such products, style your hair in a manner that keeps the hair up and away from your skin.
Wash your skin in the evening to remove the cosmetic products and any oils or dirt that may have collected during the day. After washing, repeat steps 2 and 3.
- Real Simple Magazine: Salicylic Acid
- Shape: Doctor’s Beauty Secrets
- “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me”; Paula Begoun; 2008
- American Academy of Dermatology: Acne Skincare Taboos
- If you use foundation or concealer, pick one with a slightly yellow tone. Makeup artist Geoffrey Rodriguez speaking to "InStyle" magazine says that yellower shades help neutralize redness.
- Don't wash your skin more than twice a day. Doing so can strip your skin of moisture. To compensate, your skin may then produce more oil, which exacerbates the acne.