Preventing acne is always one of our top beauty priorities, but it's never more on our mind than during the month of June. Why, you ask? Well, it's Acne Awareness Month, and we're eager to get to the root of this annoying beauty dilemma. We turned to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at the Department of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center for his best tips for how to prevent acne. Here are his words of wisdom!
theFashionSpot: What are some of the most common causes of acne?
Dr. Joshua Zeichner: Acne is caused by a combination of skin oil production, sticky skin cells around the follicles that trap oil, P. acnes bacteria, and inflammation. Acne triggers include hormonal fluctuations that increase oil production (i.e. that acne flare before your period), stress (which also revs up your oil glands), diet (especially starchy foods, which promote inflammation) and makeup (some of which can block your pores).
tFS: How can we prevent acne?
JZ: Wash your face regularly to remove dirt and oil. If you are very oily, try a wash with salicylic acid or lipohydroxy acid. If need be, use a leave-on product. If you get red, angry pimples, try a benzoyl peroxide product. After two to four weeks of use, if they are not helping, visit your dermatologist for a prescription cream or pill that can help normalize your sticky skin cells and reduce skin inflammation.
tFS: Let's say you've got a breakout at a really inconvenient time. How can you treat it fast without further irritating your skin?
JZ: It is common to break out right before an important event, usually because of the stress of preparing for it. If you get a big, red, angry pimple, use a cold compress or ice pack, apply some OTC hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation, and dab on a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide cream to dry it out. But be careful, especially if you have not used them before, because salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be potentially irritating to the skin. The best solution: Visit your derm for a cortisone injection which will cool the zit down in 24 hours.
tFS: For all the DIY ladies out there, what are some natural remedies you'd suggest for getting rid of acne?
JZ: There is some data behind tee tree oil. It can help reduce inflammation and may help reduce the acne-causing P. acnes bacteria on the skin.
tFS: There are a lot of misconceptions about acne out there. What's one of the biggest ones you've heard?
JZ: If you have acne, it means your skin is dirty. This is not true. Very clean, hygienic people break out. Acne is determined by genetics and hormones, not how often your wash your face.
tFS: Last but not least, we have to ask: Do you have any acne-fighting product suggestions?
JZ: Ideally, you want to treat the whole face because you don't know where the next pimple will pop up. Once you have a pimple, you also want to spot treat it to help cool it down. One of the products I suggest is SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel and SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense (this product is especially good for adult women who have pimples but are also concerned with aging skin because the exfoliating ingredients can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles).