How to Get Clear Skin
Dealing with acne can be a lifelong struggle that some of us have to deal with well into our fifties. The good news is that we have made great advances in terms of medications and treatments. Clear skin is no longer a dream, but something that many people can obtain now. Here are a few little-known acne prevention tips—so you (or someone you love) can be on your way to clear skin.
The Acne Basics
Acne is caused by a combination of the following:
- Oily skin (Increased sebum)
- Bacteria (P. acnes)
- Poor exfoliation of the inside of the pore (altered keratinization)
How To Treat Acne
A good acne regimen should consist of one item from each of these three categories:
- Salicylic acid
- Antibiotic (topical or by mouth) and/or benzoyl peroxide and/or blue light device
- Retinoid (Tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, retinol)
Important Facts About Acne
- The acne cycle is about 8 weeks so any treatment will take 8 weeks to work.
- Preventing future acne is more effective than waiting until you break out.
- Using a consistent regimen is important. Many people are noncompliant, and your anti-acne products aren’t going to work if they stay in the bottle.
- Diet does affect acne. Dairy and sugar seem to make breakouts worse.
How to Get Clear Skin: The Regimen
I recommend keeping things simple. A kit that contains salicylic acid is essential, since SA helps keep pores clear—and it also has an anti-aging effect. Solutions don’t have to be expensive, either. The Olay Pro-X Clear Acne Protocol consists of a cleanser, treatment and lotion to heal blemishes and prevent new breakouts—without overdrying skin. This kit should work well for those with mild adult acne.
Prescription retinoids are the best acne treatment in my opinion. But if you do not have time or cannot go to a dermatologist, try an over-the-counter retinol like Skinceuticals Retinol (available in 0.5 and 1.0 concentrations), or La Roche-Posay Biomedic Retinol or RoC Multi-Correxion Night Treatment.
One of the most common complaints I get from acne patients about their skin care regimen is that benzoyl peroxide bleaches their towels and clothing. Color Solutions Bath Towels by WestPoint Home resist the bleaching effect that BP can have on linens, and they come in 8 colors. They’re also soft, so they won’t feel scratchy on aggravated skin. Choosing a wash off benzoyl peroxide cleanser is another option to help protect your clothing.
Of course, you also want to prevent acne from coming back. Here are a few little-known tips:
- Did you know that your shampoo and conditioner can cause breakouts? To keep blemishes to a minimum, wash your face after your wash and condition your hair. And if you suffer from acne on your back and/or chest, be sure to wash your body with a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid shower gel after taking care of your hair.
- Change your pillowcases and the towels you use to dry your face every few days. Think about it… Your face rests on your pillowcase for (hopefully) 8 or so hours a night, and it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and a great host for pore-clogging oils not only from your face, but from your skincare products as well. Your towels can also harbor dirt and bacteria, so wash them often!
- Check all of your product labels and avoid isopropyl myristate, which is often used to make creams and lotions feel good on the skin. Myristyl myristate is another big no-no for blemish-prone skin, and it’s often in hair products.
The best bet is to see a dermatologist.
Before you go out and buy a lot of products and waste time and money with trial and error- consider seeing your dermatologist. You can find a board certified dermatologist at aad.org or one that I have trained at (Add the find a doctor link here.)
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.