6 Steps to Do at Home to Improve Acne

  1. Cleanser-   Keep it simple!  Over-washing can dry out skin and trigger skin to produce more oil.  Avoid harsh cleansers with sodium lauryl sulfates.  Tap water can dry the skin out as well, as it contains chlorine.  A gentle cleanser or an oil cleanser can be used no more than twice a day with a warm wash cloth.   You can use one of my favorite products, Thayers Witch Hazel without alcohol to cleanse your face morning and night. The rose scent is lovely!  Be sure to use with cotton rounds, not cotton balls otherwise the product absorbs too fast. To be extra kind to our planet try the re-usable cotton rounds. If you didn’t use make up or get too sweaty, sometimes the Thayers is all you need. The idea is to keep the skin barrier balanced, especially if using acne medicines, the over-washing can really make things worse.  It’s all about balance and keeping the skin microbiome intact.
  1. Moisturizer- It seems counter intuitive since a lot of people with acne have oily skin.  Again we want to keep the skin barrier intact. I’d suggest an emollient at least once in the evening. Oils are very nourishing to the skin and some are non-comedogenic (non acne causing). The oils I recommend are Argan oil or Sunflower Seed oil (organic cold compress).  Avoid coconut oil on acne prone areas. If you don’t like the feel of an oil, CeraVe lotion can be used or a moisturizer with CBD would make your skin very happy.
  1. Over the counter acne treatments.  Differin gel (Adapalene) .1% used to be a prescription and now it is available over the counter.  It is a topical retinoid (vitamin A derivative).  La Roche-Posay has a version as well called- Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment.  A pea size amount should be used on the entire face each evening.  Using too much can cause irritation.  The big mistake patients make is using too much or using acne medication as spot treatments.   It’s always best to prevent the pimples before they form so that is why it’s important to treat the entire face.  Be consistent for at least 4 weeks before giving up on a treatment.   In the morning a niacinamide/zinc formula can be helpful.
  1.  Sun protection-  Protecting skin from harmful UV rays is a must.   Get into the habit of using sunblock every morning.   EltaMD makes sunblock that feels elegant and won’t clog pores.   I always recommend physical sunblocks versus chemical ones.   Look for the ingredients: zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.   My favorite is EltaMD Elements, it’s great if you want a tint and your skin is on the lighter side. I wish it came out with more shades! Elta MD also makes great clear versions.  A wide brim hat and sunglasses are key to use as well when outdoors.   Most acne treatments can make skin more prone to sunburns so don’t forget this step. 
  1. Sleep-  Try for 8 hours a night!   It’s important for so many of our organs to function properly, not only the skin.  Make it a priority.  
  1. Foods-  Dermatologists used to say food had nothing to do with acne but that is clearly not true.  The foods we eat are very important in our wellness, including skin.  Try to start by reducing sugar and dairy products.  Sugar is an inflammatory food and inflammation is the source of several diseases.  Dairy has hormones from the cow which can contribute to acne.  Focus on what foods you can eat, not what you shouldn’t eat.   Try to eat more veggies and naturally colorful foods.  And of course drink 8- 8oz glasses of filtered water per day.   
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

If your acne is more severe and you aren’t getting improvement with home treatments make an appointment with a Board Certified Dermatologist or a Dermatology Physician Assistant (like myself) for a more customized plan.  My office is offering telemedicine visits so you don’t even need to leave home.   For those who are on prescription medicines, skip the over the counter retinoids as you don’t want to overdo your treatment.

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