Acne

Dermatologist-Approved Skincare: Less Is More

Constantly looking for new ways to treat your acne? You might be doing too much.

Illustrated chart detailing a simplified skincare routine with arrows indicating it should be a daily cycle. AM Cleanse + Moisture to SPF + Skin Supplement to PM Cleanse + Moisturize and repeat.

We have great news for those of you who are always looking for new ways to treat your acne: you’re doing too much. According to dermatologist experts, most people have too many products in their arsenal, which is why it is so difficult to get clear skin.

Having stubborn acne doesn't mean you need every skincare product on the market behind your bathroom mirror. It just means that you need to figure out what's causing your acne, and which skincare items is compatible with your skin type.

Here's why Derms want you to follow the 'less is more' rule when it comes to your acne.

 

Over-treating your acne can actually make it worse

Over treating your acne can cause irritation and inflammation. Excessive acne treatment can lead to dryness, making those pesky, sensitive spots even more vulnerable to the presence of bacteria and other irritants such as sweat or makeup. According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, excessive use of benzoyl peroxide (BP)—which is often found in OTC acne treatments—can cause redness, burning, itching and stinging. This is because BP is an oxidizer that kills bacteria by releasing free radicals. According to the study, applying too much BP before it is absorbed can lead to irritation and inflammation—instead of clearer skin.

 

Cell turnover is key

Skin cells naturally turn over every 28 days. Known as the desquamation process, it's an integral part of skin health: it helps to clear out old, dead cells and let new ones do their thing—ultimately allowing us to look radiant and youthful.

However, if your acne is making this process take too long—and you're not giving your skin enough time to repair itself after a bad break-out—you might be clogging pores with excess keratinized materials instead of letting them fall off as they should. Using harsh products or exfoliating too often can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause even more breakouts.

 

How To Simplify Your Skin Routine

The 'less is more' method is a great way to be sure you're not over-treating your acne. Dermatologists recommend that only one or two products should have active ingredients in them. Active ingredients include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and retinoids (tretinoin or adapalene). These products are great for clearing up blemishes but they can be very drying and irritating on their own. They also cause redness, peeling and flaking which can make skin look worse before it gets better! That's why they should be used sparingly—once every day at most with this method—and combined with other moisturizers that contain hydrating ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid.

Here are some other tips to simply your skin routine:

The most important step of your routine is washing your face; once in the morning and always at night before bed

Use a gentle cleanser SPF 30+... everyday!

Add in treatments only if you need them. Pro-tip: facials are actually a marketing scheme, and only your dermatologist will be able to tell you if you actually need one.

 

Try a skincare supplement

If you’re looking for something gentle (and effective!) without the risk of scary side effects that may come with prescription medication, supplements are a great choice. Supplements can be used to boost your skin health and reduce acne breakouts, and unlike harsh skincare products, they won't cause irritation.

For example, antioxidants like Vitamin C and E have been shown to reduce inflammation and redness in the skin. Vitamins B5 and B6 have been shown to help with scarring caused by acne lesions (called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). There's even a new vegetarian protein called lactoferrin that's hitting the skincare market in a major way—it was once used for immunity purposes, but recent clinical studies have shown incredible acne-clearing results. 

 

Conclusion

If you have acne, it can be tempting to try every product under the sun in hopes of finding one that works. But the truth is, there’s no magic bullet for this skin condition. The best acne treatments are simple and direct—they focus on improving your diet or using products that don’t irritate your skin. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the options out there, remember that less really does mean more when it comes down to treating your pimple problems.

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