Unfortunately, acne isn’t just limited to teenagers. Even if it’s been decades since you walked into the hallways of your high school, you may still wake up with a large red pimple on your nose or a cluster of whiteheads on your cheek. In fact, the battle against blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, and cysts starts right around the time of menopause. But by using the right acne products and following a regular skin care routine, you can achieve acne-free skin.

“I have people who come to my office every day in their 30s, 40s and 50s who have acne,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the author of The Skin Rule: Trade Secrets from Top New York Dermatologists. “I tell them we can certainly control it, but it’s like exercise – you have to be consistent with your routine every day.”

With countless products out there that claim to deep clean your skin and get rid of acne permanently, however, narrowing it down to a simple, workable system can be overwhelming. So we asked the top three dermatologists to analyze it for you.

What exactly is acne — and how is it caused?

Your skin has millions of tiny sebaceous glands, which are connected to hair follicles all over your body and produce an oil called sebum to protect your skin. However, a number of things can happen that prevent that oil from escaping through the hair follicles. Hormones can cause the sebaceous glands to become overactive, and the excess oil they produce can be blocked by dead skin cells, clogging pores and causing breakouts. In adolescents, the onset of puberty often kicks off a hormone rush, but hormonal acne is also common in adults, says Howard Sobel, MD, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital and a physician. Sobel Skin founder, who explains that pregnancy, your period. Cycles and starting or changing birth control pills can speed up oil production, causing pimples. Additionally, when you’re stressed (and recently who?), your body produces cortisol, which can stimulate oil glands, leading to flare-ups.

Your pores can also become clogged from irritation or a reaction to a product or fabric (such as a hat or pandemic mask), Dr. Sobel adds. In some cases, acne-like breakouts can also be caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the hair follicles, especially on the upper chest and upper back. Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can cause acne, and according to Dr. Jaliman, too much dairy in your diet may also play a role. The best way to distinguish the cause of acne is to see your dermatologist.

Once those pores become clogged, they can cause a number of different variations of acne, including:

  • Whiteheads: This type of acne occurs when excess oil and dead skin cells clog open pores; it looks like small flesh-colored or white bumps.
  • Blackhead: They are similar to whiteheads, but when the material clogging the pore pushes through and is exposed to air, it reacts with oxygen and turns black.
  • Pimples: The classic red nodules emerge when bacteria get trapped inside the pore along with oil and dead skin, leading to inflammation.
  • Cystic acne: These hard and painful bumps can feel like a marble under the skin — they occur when oil, dead skin, and bacteria penetrate deeper into the skin.

    The best skin care routine to prevent acne

    The first thing you should do is take a close look at all the products you use on your skin (including makeup) and hair, says Dr. Jaliman. “The biggest mistake I see people make with their acne routine is that they use too many products and don’t check the ingredient labels,” she says. does not cause acne, does not cause acne or free oil on the products you use, She says there are no oil, acne-causing ingredients.

    Then, follow the six-step daily dermatologist-recommended skin care routine:

    Step 1: Wash your face – gently!

    Elyse M. Love, MD, MD, Spring Street Dermatology, New York, says: While you might be tempted to rub it all over your face like you’re trying to scrape mud off your favorite shoes, that can actually make things worse. “Often patients believe that acne is the result of dirt or excess oil on their skin, and they try to over-cleanse and exfoliate their skin,” she says. “Despite the usual cleaning To be Importantly, acne is an inflammatory condition, so this over-cleansing can actually irritate the skin and accelerate the process further. “It’s important not to over-apply the skin, as this damages the skin’s protective barrier, which can lead to breakouts, irritation, redness, and texture and tone,” Dr. Sobel adds. uneven skin tone.”

    All three dermatologists I spoke with were recommended Wash your face with a gentle foaming cleanser in the morning. But here’s your choice: If you prefer a separate topical treatment – or your doctor has prescribed an RX acne medication – then combine it with a mild, drug-free cleanser. in the morning, such as Neutrogena Ultra Daily Face Wash for Sensitive Skin.

    However, if you want to combine the first two steps, choose a foaming cleanser that contains acne-fighting ingredients. If you suffer from whiteheads or blackheads, look for a cleanser with salicylic acid to slough off the damaged top layer of skin, removing dead skin cells before they can stick to your pores. (Try the Medik8 Clarifying Foam, which also includes antibacterial and anti-tea tree oil). If you have red, swollen acne, look for a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide that targets surface bacteria (CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser contains benzoyl peroxide, niacinamides, and ceramides, which Dr. Jaliman recommends for combination skin; or try PanOxyl Foaming Wash with 10% benzoyl peroxide).

    It is important to note that method What you use to clean your skin is just as important product you use, so Remove any rough towels, sponges or other irritating materials. Dr. Jaliman recommends using a cotton pad or baby towel to apply the cleaner, although it’s important that you use a clean towel every day, so you’re not just rubbing back old dirt on your face. . You can even splash just enough water with your hands to wash off the cleaner, says Dr. Love. But she warns you Use only warm water, as hot water can irritate the skin – although a little cool water afterwards can balance the skin, tighten and refresh, Dr. Sobel adds.

    Step 2: Apply a acne medicine

    If you chose to use a simple cleanser in step 1, this is your chance to treat it right away with something stronger. After washing, let skin dry – pat with a soft towel instead of rubbing – and then try an over-the-counter treatment, such as CeraVe Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Gel or La Roche Posay Dual Action Acne Treatment.

    Experts say it can take as little as six weeks for an over-the-counter treatment – at which point, if you still don’t see any results, you should consult a dermatologist, who stronger medication, such as Dapsone gel, may be prescribed. Dr. Love offers this savvy advice: “If you live in an area where you have to wait three months to see a dermatologist, make an appointment as soon as you start using over-the-counter topical medications. as a backup plan,” she suggests. “You can always cancel if you don’t need it!”

    Step 3: Apply an oil-free moisturizer

    When you’re worried about oily skin and clogged pores, moisturizer may seem unnecessary, but it’s actually the opposite:A moisturizer that helps keep the skin’s oil production balanced“Dr. Love said.” It also helps acne tolerating acne medications that are often drying. It’s important to use an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer. “One of Dr. Love’s favorite products is La Roche Posay Double Repair Face Moisturizer. . One that fits the bill: Fresh Rituals Aloe Vera Moisturizing Cream. Other hypoallergenic options include Cetaphil Gentle Clear and Aveeno Clear Complexion, both contain trace amounts of salicylic acid.For more top-tested recommendations from the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Beauty Lab, check out our list of lotions. Our best moisturizer for acne-prone skin.

    Step 4: Don’t forget sunscreen

    Sunscreen is an important step to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, but when you have acne-prone skin, you should Choose a sunscreen that won’t clog pores or make your acne worse, says EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF enthusiast Dr. Jaliman because it contains the anti-inflammatory niacinamide, which reduces redness. Another sunscreen recommended by the experts at GH Beauty Lab: La Roche Anthelios SPF 60 Dry Touch Skin Sunscreen, which has a lightweight feel.

    Step 5: Shower again at night

    When removing makeup at night, you’ll want something that can gently remove makeup, oil, and dirt your face has built up during the day, says Dr. gel cleanser, surfactant free, like the Vichy Normaderm Phytoaction Daily Deep Cleansing Gel, which contains salicylic acid and is a favorite of the GH staff. If you want to use toner as a follow-up, just make sure it’s oil-free Like those on our list of the best toners for acne-prone skin, says Dr. Jaliman. Meanwhile, Dr. Love recommends a double cleanse using micellar water first – try those from Avene, Garbier or Bioderma – and then use your cleanser.

    Step 6: Apply a retinol product before going to bed

    Before bed, there’s one last important step to clear skin: apply a retinol product. What is retinol? This is an over-the-counter version of the vitamin A derivative Retin-A, which helps reduce wrinkles and – key to acne control – unclogs pores. “Retinol is a great multi-action acne treatment for adults“Dr Sobel said.” It helps to speed up cell turnover and regeneration, and also exfoliates the stratum corneum, the cells in the outermost layer of the skin. It also works to unclog pores and keep skin youthful, while minimizing and preventing wrinkles. “Three to try: Differin Adapalene Gel, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel and Sobel Skin 4.5% Retinol Complex Night Treatment. Dr. Sobel recommends starting slowly with any retinol product.”Try it one or two days a week to build tolerance and avoid irritation“, he say.” Gradually, move up to four times a week, and then daily if needed. “

    Bottom line: “Be patient and consistent with your regimen and don’t give up,” adds Dr. Sobel. “It takes time to fade and fade existing blemishes and prevent future breakouts. It doesn’t happen overnight, it happens.”

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