Acne is something that many teenagers struggle with and I thought it was fitting to address on the blog, since it's back to school season. I can't speak from experience on this topic because I had a different set of skin issues, which I've mentioned before – eczema, allergic reactions, and very dry skin. I dug into my younger brother's stash of anti-acne products to share what works for him. He's 19 and has dealt with acne throughout his teen years. These 4 products all help tackle acne without irritating or stripping your skin. It's a good basic routine that would work for adults with acne too.
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser – This cleanser is perfect for those with normal to oily skin. With my dry skin I tend to stay away from foaming cleansers, but this is gentle enough that it doesn't strip the skin. It's fragrance-free (perfect for sensitive skin types!), non-comedogenic and rinses without any residue. It also includes some great ingredients that nourish the skin, like ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.
Clearasil Ultra+ Deep Pore Cleansing Pads – I don't recommend the Ultra+ version for anyone with less than very oily skin, because I found the alcohol content too high (leaving skin dry and tight). The "daily cleansing" version of these pads from Clearasil are in my routine, which also contain 2% salicylic acid but delivers a more mild sensation (read more in my empties post).
Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Control Moisturizer – Salicylic acid is a very important active ingredient for acne-prone types to look out for. It's a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and derivative of aspirin which gives it several unique properties that make it ideal for fighting acne – it's an anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant and anti-microbial exfoliant that can penetrate pores. This light moisturizer contains 0.5% salicylic acid that is best suited for oily to combination skin. The price really makes this worth trying out.
Or, if you'd rather, use a targeted salicylic acid treatment like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo[+] Global Action Acne Treatment on trouble areas. With my dry skin, I prefer this method, but using something like the Clean & Clear moisturizer all over will give you better coverage and is more economical.
NeoStrata Clarifying Lotion – This product isn't just for acne sufferers. This light gel contains 5% sodium ascorbyl phosphate and 2% niacinamide which both work to improve the appearance of skin. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate is a stable form of vitamin C. If you deal with blackheads, this is a great ingredient because it works as an antioxidant to prevent the formation of blackheads, which are pores containing oil and other debris that have oxidized to a dark colour. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate may also be effective for lightening skin discolourations and reducing the inflammatory response related to acne. Finally, niacinamide is a cell-communicating ingredient with lots of anti-aging benefits. If that was all mumbo-jumbo to you, simply put this product will help with blackheads and skin discolourations!
I would also recommend that any anti-acne routine should include a product with benzyl peroxide to target blemishes (I use Clean & Clear persa-gel 5). Benzyl peroxide can be very drying, so it use sparingly on top of another moisturizer.
If you'd like, supplement the routine with a purifying clay mask (I like ones from St. Ives, Clinique, or GlamGlow), and/or a moisturizing mask (a real favourite is from Antipodes with antibacterial manuka honey).
Check out Caroline Hiron's cheat sheet to learn more about acne and how to treat different types. Let me know if you have any requests for more posts on this or other skincare topics!
What acne solutions worked for you?