A Regimen for Treating Acne

Adult acne just doesn't seem fair. After enduring embarrassing breakouts during our teenage years, we should have earned a lifelong reprieve from pimples upon turning 20. Unfortunately, though, many of us keep on dealing with acne throughout our 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.

Acne blemishes and breakouts can result from sebum, stress, diet and hormones, as well as more unexpected causes such as environmental pollution, hair-styling products, eyeglasses and cell phones. Acne-prone skin needs TLC to help blemishes clear up and keep new blemishes from forming. An important thing to keep in mind is that with acne, less is often more: In our zeal to zap breakouts, we can apply too many treatments at once, which can lead to skin irritation. Along the same lines, over-scrubbing skin in an attempt to eliminate excess oil can actually exacerbate the problem.

A simple routine for acne-prone skin that includes cleansing, exfoliating, toning, moisturizing and applying targeted treatments will work best for mild to moderate cases of acne. Moderate to severe acne is best addressed by a dermatologist who can determine the proper course of treatment.

And remember: Never pop, squeeze or pick at pimples. But you already knew that.

Cleansing Acne-Prone Skin

Use a mild, gentle cleanser twice a day — morning and night — to eliminate skin impurities without drying out the skin. Look for ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids to help clear pores.

Products to try:

Skinfinite Purify Facial Cleanse ($30 in the shop) contains exfoliating hydroxy acids to clean skin and refine pores, yet it's surprisingly gentle thanks to yogurt extract and botanicals.

Nutra-Lift Glycolic Plus Non Soap Cleanser ($20) has 10% glycolic acid (AHA) along with rose hips, lemon and grapefruit seed oil, chamomile and calendula. It helps to dissolve cellular residue and pore blockages to reveal smoother, clearer, radiant skin.

Exfoliating Acne-Prone Skin

It's important to exfoliate in order to unclog pores, keep them free from excess oil and aid in cell turnover, but scrubs for acne-prone should be gentle and used only once or twice a week.

Products to try:

Skinfinite Micro Derma Scrub  is excellent for congested, breakout prone skin. This exfoliating face scrub uses a combination of bamboo, lactic acid and passionflower to removes surface debris, lift impurities and detoxify the skin without stripping natural oils.

Eslor Replenishing Scrub cleans and smooths skin by removing dead skin cells with almond paste, honey, apricot kernel powder and peach kernel powder.

Sciote Antioxidant Scrub & Masque ($50 in the shop) is an antioxidant-packed 2-in-1 mask and scrub. It contains glycolic acid (5%) and lactic acid (2%) to exfoliate, coenzyme Q10 to neutralize free radicals, a peptide complex to improve skin texture and kaolin clay to draw out impurities.

Toning Acne-Prone Skin

Use an alcohol-free toner once or twice daily to restore the skin's pH balance and fully remove dirt from pores.

Products to try:

Snowberry Gentle Remineralising Toner ($53) is a combination cleanser and toner that contains extracts of kumquat, kiwi, neem fruit, honeysuckle and sunflower, in addition to white coral extract and mother of pearl extract powder to tighten, rejuvenate and soften skin.

Stemulation AHA Herbal Balancing Toner ($38) removes traces of dirt and makeup while maintaining skin's essential moisture. It contains alpha hydroxy acid to exfoliate and smooth out skin tone.

Arcona The Solution Pads ($45) are glycolic acid exfoliating pads formulated with spin trap, glucosamine, and antioxidants to resurface, regenerate and repair skin.

Moisturizing Acne-Prone Skin

If you have oily skin and blemishes, you may think that the last thing you need is a moisturizer. However, it is still important to keep skin well hydrated — just look for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that won't trigger breakouts.

Products to try:

Snowberry Starbright Moisturizer ($51) is a lightweight, antioxidant-rich day cream that helps restore skin's natural balance and maintain even skin tone.

Your Best Face Advanced CE Concentrate ($50 in the shop) is a lightweight facial lotion with high concentrations of vitamins C and E. Gentle and non-irritating, it helps to even out tone, and it also contains vitamin E succinate and alpha bisabolo to calm skin.

Blissoma Peace Evening Calming Creme ($25.99) uses nourishing herbs to calm stressed or irritated skin. It contains organic seaweed, ginko, comfrey and pumpkin seed oil to encourage efficient circulation and cell turnover and provide rich, soothing hydration.

Soothing Acne-Prone Skin

A facial mask is a great way to calm irritation, hydrate skin and deliver targeted treatment for specific skin concerns. Look for ingredients such as clay to help absorb excess oil from the surface of your skin.

Products to try:

Michael Todd True Organics Charcoal Mask ($34) is a gentle, purifying mask that uses mineral-rich charcoal to draw out impurities and toxins and clear the skin of excess oil, dirt and other pollutants.

Blissoma Refine Clay Renewal Treatment ($30.99) contains Rhassoul clay, licorice and willowbark to detoxify pores, lighten sun damage, exfoliate dead skin cells, and soothe troubled or acne-prone skin. It can be used as a mask or as an overnight spot treatment for breakouts.

Suki Transformative Purifying Masque ($48.95) is a skin-balancing facial purifier that serves dual duty as mask and spot treatment. This treatment unclogs pores, reduces redness, treats breakouts and calms hypersensitivity for a clearer, smoother complexion. Formerly known as suki transformative cleansing clay.

Truth Vitality Lux Renew ($279) is an FDA-cleared at-home device that uses ultrasound along with red and blue LED lights. Blue light wavelengths penetrate the skin and produce singlet oxygen, which destroys bacteria responsible for causing acne. Red light wavelengths help improve the skin's barrier function while also stimulating the production of new collagen, reducing wrinkles, soothing rosacea and healing broken veins.

Find out how blue LED light therapy can be used an effective solution for acne.