Can’t use the good stuff: The best medications for clearing acne include topical retinoids like Differin and Retin-A. The strong chemicals that are used in exfoliants can cause severe inflammation and sun irritation when combined with these medications. This means that you will have to choose between facials or proper medications. The choice is yours.
Sunscreen: "Sun exposure during an active breakout can lead to darkening of inflammatory lesions, prolonging their appearance on your skin and making them harder to fade over time," says Dr. Shereene Idriss from Union Square Dermatology, which means it's important to lather on the sunscreen daily — even when it's cloudy. And don't worry about breaking out from a pore-clogging sunscreen; the latest formulas are more innovative and acne-friendly than ever. Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is a top derm-approved favorite. It contains niacinamide, which is an anti-inflammatory that helps reduce redness.
New to glycolic acid peels? Cane + Austin recommends starting here with their introductory glycolic daily facial treatment. These easy-to-use, one-step daily treatment peels contain 10 percent pharmaceutical grade glycolic acid to reveal a healthy-looking glow. Great for all skin types including dry and sensitive, they reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, even pigmentation, and restore skin’s luminosity and vitality.
Cocoa butter is a fat and an excellent moisturizer as well as emollient. It can quickly melt due to the body temperature. This quality makes it easily absorbable into the skin. In fact, it not only penetrates the top layer of your skin but it goes deep into the skin into the dermis. Thus, it reaches the site where your skin can retain the moisture for the longest time. A well-moisturized skin is a skin that makes spots and scars less visible!
This is Dr. Schultz's number-one piece of advice. "Exfoliation is the most important thing you can do on a regular basis to be fighting acne both in terms of preventing it and treating it." His go-to ingredient? Glycolic acid. While a glycolic cleanser will help, a treatment that really soaks into your skin is what will give you the results you want. Try BeautyRx Advanced 10% Exfoliating Pads or Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum.
Instead, you’ll want to talk to your dermatologist about what can be done about your scarring. There are professional procedures that can smooth the skin and minimize scars. Laser treatments are often used to treat acne scars. Your dermatologist might also suggest dermal fillers to “plump up” the depressed area leaving the skin, albeit temporarily, more smooth and even.
While over-the-counter products don’t treat the hormonal component of acne, salicylic acid—a.k.a. willow bark, a.k.a. what aspirin is made of—addresses all other aspects involved in a breakout. “It works,” says Anolik, who recommends using salicylic acid-based products in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide preparations that target acne bacteria with greater strength. Benzoyl peroxide can definitely cause dryness and irritation; if you decide not to use it, know that you’ve got to be even more vigilant about the bacteria on your skin, so cleanse and treat more often. Tea-tree oil preparations like Tammy Fender’s Clarifying Dermagel ($72, goop.com) help. Burt’s Bees Natural Solutions Acne Spot Treatment ($10, burtsbees.com) combines tea tree and salicylic acid for powerful (yet easy on skin) results.
Unfortunately, subtype 2 rosacea was historically referred to as “acne rosacea,” reflecting the belief that the two conditions were related. Although it is now known that there is no connection between acne and rosacea, the term can still be found in older literature about the disease, as well as in occasional reports today. This has often led to confusion by the public, and rosacea sufferers with bumps and pimples may mistakenly self-diagnose themselves as having acne. The two disorders require different treatment, however, and acne medications may cause rosacea symptoms to get worse.
3. You're eating spicy foods. Spicy foods often contain tomatoes and peppers, which contain acidic lycopene that can be an irritant to some people, throwing off their skin's pH levels and triggering breakouts. However, it isn't just spicy foods that can irritate your skin. Some people have an aversion to dairy, bread, or other types of foods — how your skin reacts to what you eat just depends on your own personal make-up. (Tip via Dr. Downie.)

Oral contraceptives: Oral contraceptives (birth control pills), which are low in estrogen to promote safety, have little effect on acne one way or the other. Some contraceptive pills have been shown to have modest effectiveness in treating acne. Those that have been U.S. FDA approved for treating acne are Estrostep, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and Yaz. Most dermatologists work together with primary care physicians or gynecologists when recommending these medications.

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