Acne isn’t just a problem for teens. Those pesky zits and pimples can pop up at any age. Whether it’s your diet, environment or stress that’s to blame, you don’t have to suffer helplessly. To get the skinny on acne, we talked to board-certified dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, M.D., president and CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians, Inc. and founder of DrBaileySkinCare.com. Here she shares her best tips on how to choose the right acne cleanser for you, as well as how to use it to get the best results.
According to Dr. Bailey, the best facial cleansers for acne should have at least one of these key ingredients: salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Cleansers with these ingredients can penetrate your pores and eliminate pore-clogging impurities—like dead skin cells, makeup, excess oil and bacteria—that irritate skin and make acne worse.
“Acne cleansers with these ingredients will gradually unclog pores, reduce the size of existing blackheads and slow or stop the formation of new ones,” she says. “Benzoyl peroxide is also the best ingredient for treating the acne-causing bacteria called p. acnes. In fact, study after study continues to show that benzoyl peroxide is more effective than prescription topical antibiotics at treating p. acnes.”
Aside from a facial cleanser, Dr. Bailey also recommends using a skin toner or astringent to remove even more oil and deliver additional acne-fighting ingredients. And if your acne is really severe, seek advice from your dermatologist on additional topical products, medicines, moisturizers and sunscreen to apply on top of these cleansers.
According to Dr. Bailey, it’s not enough to have a facial cleanser designed for acne-prone skin. Half the battle is properly washing your face. Here’s what she recommends: “First, wet your face with warm water, then lather your cleanser over all of your facial skin. Depending on your skin type, you can use your fingers, an exfoliating cloth or a sonic skin-cleansing brush system. Rinse well with warm water to remove the lather entirely. Some of the important acne cleanser ingredients will stay behind, but the cleanser’s foaming agents as well as built-up oil, dead cells, products and bacteria will be rinsed off of your skin.”
For best results, Dr. Bailey also recommends washing your face twice, morning and evening, to thoroughly cleanse and deliver acne-fighting ingredients to your skin.
Ready to choose your cleanser? Here are nine of the most dermatologist-recommended acne-fighting cleansers on Dermstore:
A soap-free foaming cleanser, this gel clears pores without drying out your skin. It contains mint extract to soothe inflammation, quillaja saponaria to remove toxins and lavender extract to minimize the appearance of pores and balance pH levels.
An exfoliator gentle enough to use every day, even on acne-prone skin, this scrub uses diatomaceous earth microbeads to clear pores without irritating skin. It contains aloe vera, which soothes and softens skin, and citrus oils, which purify and brighten your complexion.
Perfect for normal to oily skin types, this foaming gel cleanser cleans deep into pores to remove dirt, oil and other acne-causing impurities. The oat amino acids and alfalfa extract fight existing blemishes and clear out excess sebum, while aloe vera soothes inflammation and cools redness.
Certified natural, organic and vegan as well as cruelty- and paraben-free, this cleanser purifies your skin without stripping it of its natural moisture. It uses tea tree oil to neutralize bacteria, preventing breakouts, while willow bark slows the production of oil.
This soap-, alcohol- and oil-free cleanser gently purifies the skin without drying it out. It also helps prevent future breakouts by keeping excess oil in check.
Perfect for all skin types for both men and women of any age, this gentle, clarifying face wash will leave you with smooth, blemish-free skin. Full of antioxidants derived from chamomile and centella asiatica, it helps heal skin damage and prevent further UV damage.
Though technically not a cleanser, this leave-on exfoliant purifies your pores with salicylic acid as grape seed extract soothes inflammation and reduces redness. Free of fragrance and other potential irritants, this gentle exfoliant won’t irritate or dry out the skin.
Invigorate your skin while purifying it of dirt, oil and makeup. Both red algae and lavender help reduce redness and inflammation, and vitamin A promotes healthy cell growth for younger-looking skin. After use, your skin is left feeling clean and refreshed.
This cleanser removes dirt, oil and other impurities without disturbing your skin’s pH levels. It also refines pore size to help reduce excess sebum production. Thermal spring water calms irritation and soothes inflammation.
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