Expert Guide: 17 Proven Ways to Fight Acne

85% of men and women between the ages of 12 and 24 suffer from acne and worse yet, those red bumps don’t always go away with age. As most of us know, there’s no surefire cure for the skin condition, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty we can do to help prevent and treat breakouts. We spoke to three leading skincare experts to get their best kept secrets for getting a fresh face this summer.

Renee Rouleau, Skincare Expert and Celebrity Esthetician:

Michael Kors FW 2011 runway beauty - Arizona Muse

  • Throw out your bar soap and exchange it for a liquid cleanser. The binders that hold a bar of soap together are in an alkaline base (high pH balance) which will strip all the water and natural oils out of the skin, causing the surface of the skin to dehydrate. Your skin cells need to stay moist in order to be healthy, and without water, acne conditions, sensitive, and dry skin will be aggravated.

  • If back breakouts are an issue, it could be an ingredient in your hair conditioner that's causing the problem. Panthenol, well-known for its benefit for strengthening the hair, may be a potential pore-clogger. When you rinse out hair conditioner, a residue of the product stays on your back, so use hair products that do not contain Panthenol, exfoliate your back with a mild cleansing gel and exfoliating cloth three times a week, and apply an anti-bacterial lotion — your back will be clear for summer.

  • We've all heard that greasy foods and chocolate cause breakouts. However, in our experience, when breakouts are cyst-like in the chin and jawline area, most often this is related to excessive dairy products in your diet. Try cutting out cheese, milk, ice cream, and frozen yogurt, and watch your skin clear up! There are many other ways to get calcium in your diet like broccoli, asparagus, and orange juice.

  • Don't pick at your skin. The life of a breakout is just 3-5 days, but when you pick at a blemish, the red mark that lingers can be there for 1 to 2 months. A better solution for problem skin is a regular facial schedule where your pores can be cleaned professionally.


Dr. Meghan O’Brien, Consulting Dermatologist for Physicians Formula:

  • Look for makeup that is non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores. Mineral makeup is generally safe to use.

  • Many sunscreens are safe to use, even for acne prone skin. Again look for the word non-comedogenic on the bottle to ensure that it will not clog pores.

  • Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser or medicated acne cleanser. Be gentle with washing, scrubbing acne can irritate it and make it more inflamed.

  • Over-the-counter products such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide work well in medicated soap or as spot treatments if you get a breakout. These products can be drying to skin so use them carefully.

  • Avoid picking or popping pimples and instead use a spot treatment and apply it a few times per day.

  • Cleansing pads with salicylic acid are an easy way to prevent acne on the chest and back when you sweat or workout in the summer.

  • If you are getting continuous breakouts or larger painful lesions, it is time to see a dermatologist. Cystic acne can leave permanent depressions and this type of acne needs to be treated aggressively.


Dr. Glenn Kolansky, board certified Dermatologist from Red Bank New Jersey:

  • Give Proactiv a try. It's an over-the-counter strength Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which are mild products, but have benefits because they clean the skin and kill bacteria. Just the act of cleaning the skin, decreasing dirt and oil have shown a benefit in acne treatment.

  • For those looking to soften acne scarring, consider the Pixel laser. It's a fractional laser that creates micro-injury to stimulate collagen and can provide benefit for mild to moderate acne scarring. Deep scars or ice-pick scars may require deeper lasers or other methods for skin improvement. Redness can be decreased or softened with a pulse-dye laser such as the V-Beam by Candela, with resulting improvement in texture.

  • Watch out for mail order scams that bill your credit card on a monthly basis and send the medication even if you do not need it. Over-the-counter options include many Benzoyl peroxide products or topical cremes, and washes such as Neutrogena acne wash with Salicylic acid 2%. Simply using these products can help improve the skin of those suffering from mild acne.

On a final note, I've personally tried many acne products over the years and found that most either have a noxious smell, dry out my skin, or bleach my towels. Three that won't do any of the aforementioned nuisances while effectively treating broken out skin are:

  • Vichy Normaderm Triple Action Anti-Acne Hydrating Lotion ($22.50): In addition to treating acne, it actually hydrates skin, something one rarely finds in an acne-fighting product. It also dries matte making it perfect for those who don't want to look like they just lathered on cream.

  • La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo ($35.95): Though it's a little bit drying, it's odorless and effective when you have a lone pesky blemish or two…or three…

  • Murad Clarifying Body Spray ($37): Refreshing in feel and odor, this spray lets you reach even the most hard-to-reach areas to fight breakouts no matter where they occur.