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How do you deal with acne?

How do you deal with acne? What’s your current routine? Share!

I use a topical antibiotic and Differin (both prescription products), which manage about 95% of it. When I get the odd pimple, then I use Mario Badescu Buffering or Drying Lotion!

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Irene Avatar

A strict regime of cleansing oil to remove make up, Cetaphil cleanser, witch hazel toner, hyaluronic acid lotion, MD Skin Natural Shielding Lotion moisturizer twice a day, and exfoliating twice a week (once with Queen Helene Mint Julep mask, and another day with Clinique Exfoliating Scrub, my holy grail of skincare products). I have seb dermatitis and rosacea, which causes redness, flaky skin, and breakouts, so I try to keep my skin as clean and moisturized as possible. I’ve been using the same products for a few years now, and although I’ve resigned myself to always having a spot or two, they work fairly well to keep breakouts at bay. At night I apply a tiny bit of Queen Helene Mint Julep on top of spots to dry them out, and it works better than any other product specifically for drying pimples that I’ve tried.

Klaudiaczy Avatar

I use Neutrogena Grapefruit foaming scrub every night to keep them at bay. Sometimes I would get big and painful pimples, and the scrub prevents them from getting bigger. The last time I switched to the Garnier charcoal one, and it gave me pimples everywhere (19 to be exact!) I thought I was getting cosmetic acnes or milia! So Neutrogena grapefruit for life.

Pteetsa Avatar

Amanda, a topical antibiotic is like an antibiotic cream or lotion that you would apply to your skin. Neosporin, for example (although I don’t think that’s what Christine uses 🙂 ). Differin is a cream or a gel you apply to your skin, and Accutane is a pill you ingest. It’s considered a last resort for bad acne because it is serious stuff.

Chris Avatar

My basic understanding is that some common forms of acne are the result of bacteria feasting on the dead skin and oil that clogging up pores. Differin is a topical retinoid, which encourages skin to regenerate and turn over faster (thus clearing pores of old, dead skin), and Accutane is a pill that shuts off or turns down your oil-producing glands.

Annie Avatar

I was prescribed one called Erythromycin – first in liquid form then they started making it as a gel only. I honestly didn’t see much improvement from using that… it was prescribed in addition to retin-A micro and the retin-A micro is what I continue to use and what really keeps me clear. I think my acne was more of an issue of clogged pores than bacteria which is why I think the retin-A is what helped most (increases cell turnover).

joy Avatar

i really depends on my skin. for prevention, i like to do a weekly AHA of some kind (currently Dr Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Medi-Spa Peel). if i’m going through a cycle of multiple breakouts, i like to use mandelic acid (from garden of wisdom) 2x/week and spot treat with clay mask followed by garden of wisdom’s Majik Anti-PopUP Blemish gel or Camellia Rose’s Bye Bye Zit Serum (both use a combination of different natural actives not usually seen in more mainstream brands to treat acne)

Sylirael Avatar

I’ve been very fortunate never to really have acne, per se. I had the usual scattering of spots during adolescence (including one memorable but actually tiny one on the tip of my nose that my family kindly dubbed ‘Krakatoa’), but nothing major. These days, if anything hromone related pops up, I slap some Bioderma Sebium on it, and it usually goes away.

My big issue has always been dryness, and for a while there, eczmea. On mah face. 🙁 At that time, I used Locoid steroid cream to beat it into submission, and if an itchy spot ever appears these days, it gets locoided so fast you can’t even. I do *not* want to go back to the time of an itchy, raw, vesicular, rash around the mouth and jaw.

Dani Avatar

I use an oral antibiotic and Differin. I had incredibly clear skin in my teen and early 20’s. But in my mid 20’s I developed moderate acne that left a lot of hyper-pigmentation scars. My doctor started me on Differin because I was weary about taking an antibiotic for an extended period of time.
After about 6 months I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted so I started taking doxycycline (oral antibiotic) . Within three months my acne cleared up. I get an occasional pimple here and there, but they are much smaller and go away much faster. I am still using the Differin, which has helped to fade my hyper-pigmentation marks.

One recommendation I have with the Differin would be to still used a moisturizer with it. My doctor initially recommended using the Differin at night without an additional moisturizer. I have relatively dry skin, but after a couple months of using the Differin my skin became super oily and my pores much more noticeable. Once I started using a moisturizer after the Differin dried, things were getting back to normal.

Emmilynn Avatar

An issue here is as most doctors spend a maximum of 4 weeks learning about the skin, they dont properly know how to care for it. As your using a topical treatment now and had dry skin it doesnt surprise me that it became oily. I say this because the more a skin is dried out the more it will try and produce excess oil to try and hydrate itself. The problem here as you have found is the skin gets really oily and it lacks in water (which is why hyloronic acid is very helpful here). I have to commed you for saying to people to use a moisturiser at night once the treatment has dried and for doing it, as tho blocked pores could of ended up as more spots and you would have been caught in a vicious cycle which is never nice.

Please dont get me wrong tho im not bashing doctors its just sometimes their reconmendations are poor. We all know that anyone who goes on to a systemic treatment like accutaine needs to wear an spf everyday to provent photosensativity but also they cant do any exfolation (this incluseds waxing aswell on all areas of the body) for upto a year after comming off the meds (3-6 months for antibiotics) yet you constantly hear how people have never been told. Same with topical acne meds from a doctor you just cant exfoliate the area being treated.

ale Avatar

Please do not missinform people.
In MED SCHOOL ( in my country it is 6 years) you usually do a semester of dermatology, aka the skin.
After u have finished med school you study between 3-6 more years a SPECIALTY (Ophtalmology, Dermatology, Neurosurgery, etc. )
If u go to a Neurosurgent asking about your acne then yes…he only has one semester of it. But why would you do that?

Emmilynn Avatar

I was referring to general practitioners (gp’s) not specialists (granted I should have stated that and that was my mistake but that doesn’t make the information wrong) And I’m my country it’s 4 weeks. So I haven’t missinformed anyone. Each country will train people in their own way, if yours does it better then good on them but gp’s are still giving bad advice when it comes to skin care with medication. They just don’t have the training as you can see by what I have written above as some examples. They don’t tell people that an SPF is needed or that they shouldn’t exfoliate or wax. I don’t Know what it is like in your country but in mine someone can go to the doctor with a face of spots and they can be given accutaine without seeing a specialist and even if they get to see a specialist some of them have not informed the patient of some of the basics.
I am guessing from your response that either you or a loved one are in the medical industry and that’s brilliant but poor advice where I am is still being given.

ale Avatar

my reason is that i dealt with acne for almost 5 years and i had an attitude of ” i can deal with this myself, i’ll just search the internet, i’ll just use what worked for others” the result? scarring, spotts and when finally it got so worse that i looked like a giant walking pimple i went to a dermatologist, then a endocrynologyst which is what i should have done in the first place.
i don’t have acne anymore but i still have the scars.
i repeat what i said in my comment. if u have acne go to a DERMATOLOGYST, not a gp.
i do not mean to offend it’s just that i’m a walking cautionarry tale

Brianna Avatar

I am all about clear days ahead by philosophy! I’m on day three of the 30 day trial pack from Nordys and so far so good! I work at a counter but unfortunately my skin is not okay with the foundation formulas so I switched that up as well to another brand – Clinique even better.

Now its all good 🙂

Ginny Avatar

I just looked up Mario Badescu and there are like ten products that I want lol. Actually though, it’s very moderately priced! I know this sounds like hokey advice from mom, but drinking a lot of water has helped my skin (not a miracle, but it’s definitely helped). I was never one to drink a lot, so I bought one of those travel bottles with the built in straw, and it makes it easier to sip, sip, refill, sip all day. It also keeps my lips from being so dry.

Estefania Avatar

I have mostly clear skin, with the occasional breakout. I use the St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub which has worked for years, and once a week I use the Perricone MD Chloro Plasma face mask. It’s like a better version of the GlamGlow for my skin! I like it because it doesn’t claim to extract everything from your pores, which I think is a silly expectation. It pulls everything to the surface and my exfoliator gets rid of it. It’s also shrunk my pores in half in the three months I’ve been using it. I love that stuff!

Sarah Avatar

I have really awful hormonal acne around my period, the type with those bumps that can easily hang around for a week or more. No topical treatments from the doctor or pills have helped so far. I continue to try different things with him, but in the meantime, Kate Somerville’s sulfur acne spot treatment is truly HG for drying down bumps quickly. Now they are gone in a matter of days vs. weeks! And if I put it on an emerging bump it stops it in its tracks! I also use Clearogen’s sulfur face lotion, which also helps. Highly recommend these for people with more difficult cases of acne.

Lee Avatar

I use a mild 2.5% benzoyl peroxide (I get it from and Differin and my skin is almost totally clear now tho’ I will ocasionally get one of those horrible cystic ones. I notice my skin is much better when I’m eating clean and avoiding sugar.

Barbara Avatar

Ok I am a longtime sufferer, even had to do a round of accutane because my skin was just unresponsive. Anyway, I have managed to keep it under control for the last couple years until recently when I realized it was hormonal birth control that flared my inflammatory acne up (I’ve tried all kinds of brands, even the “good for fighting acne” brands) so I stopped and it has gotten better. I noticed something was off when my skin got *better* during my periods then got worse when I started a new pack. I am also taking a form of antibiotics for the acne.

Anyway my strict sensitive skin regiment is to use an oil cleanser to remove makeup and then use CeraVe foaming cleanser to get everything else off. Follow up with Aczone (topical antibiotic) and Differin for treatment. Then I use, depending on the season, Cerave am/pm or Paula’s Choice moisture boost day/night moisturizers. Occasionally I use AHA and BHA exfoliants.

Chris Avatar

Birth control has helped me, so this goes to show that everyone’s skin is unique! I’m glad that you’ve figured out your skin.

P.S. I am a total Cerave groupie, and love that foaming cleanser and the am/pm moisturizers, too! And the eye cream….

Lauren Avatar

I have very sensitive skin and at 36 I am still dealing with breakouts. Right now, I have been using the following and it works pretty well:

– Neutogena Naturals makeup removing cleanser (2x daily)
– Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength BHA treatment (once or twice daily depending on whether I use the Paula’s Choice Weekly Retexturizing Foam Treatment 4% BHA at night)
– Paula’s Choice Benzoil Perozide (Clear). I usually use the regular strength in the morning but if my skin is problematic I will use the extra strength.
– Paula’s Choice Resist Super Light Daily Wrinkle Defense sunscreen
– Paula’s Choice Resist Weekly Retezturizing Foam (every other night)
– Paula’s Choice Clear Skin Hydrator at night (every night).
– As a spot treatment, I like the Body Shop Tea Tree Oil

Chris Avatar

I have combination skin that is always relatively oilier in the t-zone, but it’s dryer overall in the winter and oilier overall in the summer. If left to its own devices, my skin would produce all kinds of acne, but I’m totally acne free because of my treatment.

Birth control pills (Orthotricyclene Lo) clear up my cystic acne, and prescription strength tretinoin cream (.025%) and Paula’s Choice Clear BHA, Regular Strength, have cleared up my acne vulgaris. I’m also obsessed with moisturizing and sunscreening, and I adjust those products with the seasons. I also wash, gently, every morning and night.

Em Avatar

After years of trying various stuff, I’ve finally got a routine that works for me: wash with a wash cloth in the morning, cleanse with 1% salicylic acid face wash at night in the shower, apply lowest-strength Differin/adapalene and sulfur sulfacetamide all over the face before bed. Spot treat with benzoyl peroxide when necessary, which, blessedly, hasn’t been for a while.

I used Differin in combination with various stuff for a few years, but it didn’t completely clear me until the derm added sulfur sulfacetamide to my regimen.

Chris Avatar

I am 47 and continue to have breakouts. I currently use Proactiv+ I love their cleanser and toner. I love Clean and Clear Topical Treatment, which I purchase from Target or Walmart. I used Retin A as a teen.

CatG Avatar

Birth control helped my acne a lot but it’s still moderate. I’m now taking Ziana for a couple months now but I don’t think it’s helping any. The moment I put on sunscreen (which obviously I’m supposed to do every day), I break out :/

Rachel R. Avatar

Thankfully, since entering my 40s, my breakouts have substantially tapered off. Now, I mainly get some hormonal cystic acne about once a month, and occasional regular acne from oily skin. The hormonal cystic acne I treat with some topical hydrocortizone cream, or if it’s really stubborn, a tiny bit of my son’s Differin. For regular acne, I keep with my regular cleansing routine, and don’t over-scrub. I treat with a topical acne cream with salicylic acid in it. I occasionally do have to pop or drain the really large white heads or cysts, but the doctor showed me how and when to do it safely.

Shelby Avatar

I use a lot of different products. I use equate brand of proactiv when I ran out of my real proactiv. I also use x-out, cleasil ultra super fruit wash, neutrogena naturals purifying face cleanser, Clean & clear morning burst shine control, proactiv+, and lastly my favorite of the store brand is st. Ives blemish control green tea scrub. I’m always broke out around my chin area and between my eyebrows on my forehead. I also use 100% tea tree oil after I wash my face.

Jess Avatar

Advanced Skin Technology’s Green Cream Level 9 (an OTC retinoid) and Replenix’s Power of Three Cream have left my skin completely clear, and I had tons of acne in my teens and 20s. I tried both Differin + a topical antibiotic and Retin A in the past, and neither worked as well for me as the green cream. I also use a glycolic acid face wash 1-2x a week (Glytone Mild Cream Wash) and Origins’s charcoal mask 1-2x a month. I use CeraVe moisturizing face wash, Vanicream lotion and Eucerin face lotion with SPF daily too.

Linda Avatar

I’ve had problems with acne for years. But what really cleared up my skin is a healthy lifestyle. Like eating healthy. Once I started to eat healthy and drink plenty of water. My skin started to get better. Then I use a simple face wash. Shiseido Benefiance Foam Cleanser. No toner. And for daytime I use Dior Hydra Life Pro Youth Moisturizer. Along with a sunscreen during the daytime. I use SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion Sunscreen SPF 50. At night I clean off my makeup then wash with the foam cleanser. And I use SkinCeuticals Retexturizing Activator. (This one is one of my fav) I keep my routine simple and easy. I treat my skin like it is sensitive and with care. And my skin rewards me with nice skin. I do a clay mask every once in a while. I also use my Clarisinic Normal Brush 3 x a week. Sometimes I’ll use a special scrub. Now I have great skin that I go without foundation almost daily except for special occasions. Using too much on your skin or being too abrasive will make you skin flare up so treat it with care.

Annie Avatar

I never had acne until college… looking back, I’m convinced it was a zinc deficiency! Zinc is mostly found in meats and is anti-inflammatory and one of the main supplements recommended to help with acne (also helps with healthy nails, hair, and immune system). I now take a zinc supplement daily and think it really makes a difference! I waited to long to see a doctor for my acne – probably about 3-4 years. Wish I had gone sooner because he just prescribed Retin-A micro and that cleared me right up! I continue to use it, though I can go a week without using it and be fine, so maybe I grew out of acne as well or maybe it’s the zinc supplement that continues to help too. I also tend to follow Face Reality Acne Clinic’s comedogenic ingredients list and avoid those in products I buy – though some of them turn out to not be comedogenic for me, for example sea which extract is actually great for acne according to Paula Begoun and I use some Paula’s Choice products with that ingredient with no problem! I also spray all makeup brushes with alcohol before applying makeup and change my pillowcase nightly. I really recommend trying retin-A and a zinc supplement if you struggle with acne and think you may be deficient in zinc (not much meat in your diet). Retin-A got me 90% clear but I think the zinc really got rid of the rest of the occasional pesky breakouts. I started birth control for the first time after being clear for a couple years and I just went off of it recently after being on it for over a year. I was worried my skin would go crazy, but a month later and I’m still good. I guess I didn’t really need to worry since I was clear for a couple years before the pill and while on it as well (my pill was Levora and I loved it – no side effects!) Now I’m just dealing with red marks left over from acne, they last a really long time on my skin but are quite faded now. I tried laster genesis, IPL, etc. and honestly don’t recommend any of those treatments for acne discolorations, I didn’t see any improvement and I feel like they just make your skin more sensitive to aging. Now I’m just sticking to good skincare products which I think is a better investment than gimmicky treatments 🙂 And that is my acne story in a nutshell. lol!

Annie Avatar

Just wanted to add I became vegetarian as a senior in high school and then soon after when I started college was the first time I ever started dealing with acne, which is what makes me think it was probably a zinc deficiency.

S Avatar

THANK YOU for reminding me about the Zinc! I’m always meaning to get it again but forget. I haven’t eaten meat since I was about 11 and now am nearly vegan except I NEED my yogurt and especially Kefir!

Annie Avatar

You’re welcome! I recommend zinc picolinate – it’s the form most easily absorbed by the body. Good absorption is important because our bodies have no way to store zinc, we just use it and get rid of the excess. I use the 22mg variety Solgar brand that I get from Vitamin Shoppe. It’s about 170% DV so not too excessive. I also started taking a b12 supplement recently, Jarrow brands methyl b12. It’s a cherry flavor that you chew or melt in your mouth … I like it! I only take it a couple times a week since its like 8000% but very important especially if you’re mostly vegan! Methyl b12 is more easily absorbed than cyanocobalin which is more easily found in stores.. I just got mine from since I buy some skincare products from there as well 🙂 I’ve heard people claim high levels of b vitamins break them out but I think that’s unlikely since they are water soluble so we just get rid of the excess.

Genevieve Avatar

I didn’t really get a lot of acne in my teens and twenties, but certainly my fair share of pimples. I went straight to the doctor and was prescribed some antibiotics and a drying lotion that worked. On the other hand my sister, who had really bad acne, did not get it treated and now is scarred. My son, who also developed acne went on to Accutane. It does have some serious side effects, but it totally worked for him. He does not have any scars and still uses a regimen of cleansers, scrubs and moisturizers to keep his skin looking good. Acne is a shocking thing.

Nurse Ratchet Avatar

I have Rosacea that causes red, textured skin that is prone to oil production, blackheads and blemishes. I also have PCOS, so my breakouts are mainly on my chin and jaw (the “hormone zone”). Once I understood that I don’t have acne in its traditional form, but instead as an inflammatory response (over proliferation of skin cells and sebaceous oils) to my sensitive skin getting irritated, things started really changing for me, and now I only get a few spots when I am ovulating. Here’s what works for me:

– In AM, exfoliate with Lush Dark Angels scrub or buff puff with Lush Fresh Farmacy soap.
– In PM, Castor oil to oil-cleanse makeup away, or Skinn olive and enzyme cleansing balm if my skin is feeling dry (castor oil can be drying, and the balm is quite rich).
– Lush tea tree toner AM/PM as well as Paula’s Choice BHA liquid exfoliant.
– Paula’s Choice Hydralight lotion in AM, Lush Vanishing Cream in PM.
-I use Lush fresh face masks (Cupcake, Catastrophe Cosmetic) 2-3 x a week to keep things calm.
– If I’m lazy I use Aveeno feverfew wipes to remove makeup and cleanse my skin.
– If I’m feeling really red I go on a strict anti-inflammatory diet until things calm down.

Emmilynn Avatar

I have quite a bad case of PCOS. So i am constantly fighting acne, facial hair and scars pigmentation inflamation scars not from picking). So the only thing that works for me is a routine of exfoliation and hydration. I choose to use all dermalogica products and have done for 5 years (2years in the middle i used clarins. Big mistake) they are a massive investment but to me worth every penny. So i use the ultra calming cleanser. Twice in the morning once at night as i use special cleansing gel to remove me makeup. Ultra calming serum to reduce razor rash and map15 to reduce pigmentation and to promote the healing rate of my skin. This is followed by skin smoothing cream and the solar booster. At night after cleansing skin renewal booster (the best exfoliant ever) and skin smoothing cream. If you havent tried them i would compleatly reconmend them. My skin has never been this good since i was a teenager and i had perfect skin as a teen.

nerble Avatar

Mine is a weird combination. I use honey and leave it on for at least 20 minutes each day. Just add a bit of water so it’ll spread. It’s antibacterial, but it doesn’t dry out your skin. For face wash, I just use whatever gentle random flavor of the month I happen to pick up. I’ve found so long as it’s not drying, it doesn’t make any difference. Twice a week I use Boots microdermabrasion scrub (holy, holy grail.) and I also use an AHA mask twice a week. Oil of olay original fluid (oil free) is my moisturizer.

I’ve found that salicylic acid, benzyl peroxide and just about any other normal drying agent dries my skin to death, which then causes more acne because they clog my pores. Additionally, I have super duper sensitive skin, so anything harsh at all makes it red and patchy. My typical routine basically keeps bacteria away and constantly removes the top / dead layers of skin, helping to prevent clogging. I have some tiny scattered bumps, but it’s about 10000% better since I started using honey to XO the bacteria.

S Avatar

I found that Effaclar Duo by La Roche-Posay works REALLY fast and well when I get tested by zits. It’s a dual acting treatment with 5.5 benzoyl peroxide and .4 micro-exfoliating LHA. But be sure to get the tube that says Made in the USA, for some reason it works better. This stuff can get rid of alot of mine just overnight when I cathch them right away! Also exfoliation as well as glycolic and salicylic acids.
My SUPER SPLURGE product that does not technically treat acne but definitely helps like a wonderful miracle is using the SK-II Essence at least 1x per day to really balance out my more on the oily side of combination skin. I went through a really long Time period of TERRIBLE non-stop breakouts, from tiny to huge cysts hurting so badly and I decided to just drop the cash on that, the Effaclar Duo, and also used The Antidote by Skyn and I was shocked, happily amazed that my horrible nearly year long breakout terror was so quickly on it’s way out and very gently, too!

Lesley Avatar

I’ve been through two rounds of Accutane (one in my teens, the other round in my 20’s) and am now defying the odds in my 40’s with a recurrence of cystic acne. Accutane is supposed to cure almost all who use it! I’m currently using a topical antibiotic and an oral antibiotic when I have a particularly bad flare up. I don’t like using oral antibiotics but feel I don’t have much of a choice when my cystic acne is at its worst. I can’t use Retin-A because of another skin condition. I’ve had good luck lately with using Cereve Foaming face wash at night followed by The Body Shop’s Vitamin E Toner and using the Vitamin E Cleanser and Toner in the morning both always followed by my topical antibiotic. I’m adding in Advanced Skin Tecnology Green Cream in level 6 at night. Hoping this season will pass soon!

Fran Avatar

Because of my rosacea, I kept getting a few zits until my late ’50s, when my skin finally quit being oily. I used a gentle salicylic acid preparation (Burt’s Bees acne toner) for prevention and a generic 2.5% benzoyl peroxide lotion (usually the Target house brand) for treatment. This combo actually did a good job without irritating my sensitive rosaceic skin — my tube of benzoyl peroxide would always expire long before I came anywhere close to using it up. I’m actually convinced that having oily skin slowed down the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles — I think oiliness has an upside! Precscription products for rosacea have never had much positive effect on my skin, and some prescription products were extremely irritating. My rosacea redness is progressing much less slowly with rigorous mineral sunscreen use.

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