Joshua Zeichner, a fellow dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical dermatology research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, also lists salicylic acid as a primary tool in the fight against acne. “This beta hydroxy acid helps remove excess sebum and exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface of the skin to keep pores clear,” he explains.
If no acid is in your current regimen, look for something like the recently released Resurfacing Acne Swipes from Lee’s eponymous skincare brand. In addition to smoothing lactic acid, they contain two percent salicylic acid and five percent glycolic acid, a concentration according to Lee that can be safely used twice a day. However, there are many other products and treatments on the market with similar ingredients.
Zeichner’s recommendation is one of drugstore favorites. He tells his acne-prone clients to try Neutrogena Oil-Free Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash because of its 2% concentration of salicylic acid. We recommend Ole Henriksen’s Best of Beauty award-winning Balancing Force Oil Control toner, which contains the same exfoliating acids as Lee’s Acne Swipes.
The rest of your acne treatment should depend heavily on the three categories Lee described earlier. If you mainly suffer from acne in the comedogenic category, Lee suggests adding retinol products to the mix. “These are keratolytics, they will help increase the efficiency of cell renewal in the skin,” she explains. “They’ll help minimize pore blockage.”
If you have papules or pustules, you will need an ingredient that has antibacterial effects. Benzoyl peroxide, she says, is the most effective over the counter. That’s because, as fellow dermatologist Jessica Krant once said at Allure, “It’s both an antimicrobial, which kills bacteria and other organisms, and an exfoliant, which helps unclog them. pores and gently debride the surface layer of the skin. “
Treatment for cystic acne is where it gets a bit tricky, and Lee highly recommends seeing a dermatologist if you haven’t seen results with any of the previously mentioned tactics. “If I were to see someone in the office with more cystic acne, I would prescribe antibiotics or maybe consider Accutane and other oral medications,” she says. “It’s a pain in the ass using things like Accutane, but it’s an amazing drug.”
Along with oral medications like antibiotics, Zeichner says an injection of cortisone, a topical anti-inflammatory steroid, can help. His patients with persistent cystic acne also saw results with a prescription topical called Epiduo Forte Gel – before fully trying oral medications.
But Lee urges you to keep in mind that even the best skin care regimens mean nothing if they aren’t used consistently as directed, or if they don’t have enough time to work.
And never forget that your local dermatologist can always provide you with support, advice, treatment and prescriptions.
Lee thinks people are much more reluctant to see a doctor about skin problems because people don’t see them as medical risks. That said, she urges people to seek out local dermatologists if they are feeling puzzled by their acne, especially teens and young adults. “Acne comes at a time in your life when you don’t even know how to behave with anyone around you,” she says. “It can really affect your ability to let your personality develop.”
Sometimes the advice you get online or the product your best friend swears they got rid of their acne doesn’t work for you, and it’s not your fault. But seeing a dermatologist, as Lee advises, will put you on the right track and remind you that acne is much more common than social media suggests.
We also have how-to guides on acne treatment, acne scar removal and how to cover acne if you want and don’t even think about squeezing your spots without checking out our ultimate guide from Dr. Pimple Popper.