6 Acne Treatment Secrets From Skin Care Pros

It's no secret that acne is tough to treat. But all skin care pros, whether it be dermatologists, estheticians, or acne clinic owners, have plenty of clear skin secrets up their sleeves.

Fortunately, they love to share these secrets with you! Here are some of my favorite acne treatment secrets that I've amassed over the years. I know they'll help you with your skin.


Use More Than One OTC Acne Product

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There's a reason why Proactiv is so popular (and effective, as far as OTC treatments go). It's because it combines several different acne treatment medications to give you the best possible results.

If you're relying on just one acne treatment cleanser or toner to clear your breakouts, you're probably not seeing the improvement you want. So, take a cue from Proactiv and combine several over-the-counter products.

You don't have to spring for Proactiv itself. There are many acne treatment "kits" like this on the market. You can even create your own acne treatment routine yourself, a la carte, with acne treatment products off the shelf.

Remember, though, that only mild acne can be effectively treated with over-the-counter products. Moderate to severe cases of acne will need a prescription medication (and a trip to the dermatologist).


Exfoliate, but Don't Scrub

homemade pumpkin body scrub.

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Exfoliation is an important part of every skin-clearing routine. Regular exfoliation helps keep the pores clear, preventing blackheads and pimples from forming.

Many acne medications are ultra-exfoliators — for example, Retin-A Micro and Differin. These medications work by speeding up cell turnover rates, and stopping pore blockages and blemishes before they can gain a foothold.

Exfoliation doesn't mean scrubbing the bejeebers out of your skin. Too much scrubbing with abrasive products, loofahs, or rough cloths can irritate your skin, making it look and feel much worse. So, be gentle!


Ice Down Big Zits

close up of ice cubes
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Popping pimples is a big no-no — most especially when the zit is simply a red bump without a white head. Ice down that bad boy instead.

Makeup artists use this trick all the time. It helps calm inflamed zits and makes them appear smaller.


Start or Switch Birth Control

Birth control pills
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Would you be surprised if we told you that oral contraceptives are actually very useful in treating adult acne in women? It's true.

Oral contraceptives, more commonly called birth control pills, improve acne by balancing hormonal fluctuations that can contribute to breakouts. Not all brands work the same way, and one may work better for you than others.

The bottom line is, if you're dealing with persistent adult acne, it's time to have a frank talk with your dermatologist and/or OBGYN.


Quit Trying New Treatments

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This seems counter-intuitive. When you're trying to clear acne, it's so tempting to try every treatment available.

The key here is to remember that no acne treatment works overnight. They won't work in a week, or even a month.

That's why it's so important to stop trying new treatments for a while. Because when you start a new treatment, the "old" one typically falls by the wayside, right?

If you ditch your acne treatment too soon, you're not allowing it the time it needs to work for you.

So, stick with the treatment you've got. Use it daily. Give it three or four months to work and fight the urge to bounce to something else, at least for a while.


Get Help From a Pro (That Means a Dermatologist, Not Your BFF)

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The biggest "secret" is also the one that will net you the greatest result.  Make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Acne can be difficult to treat, and over-the-counter acne products only work in certain instances.  Your dermatologist has an arsenal of acne medications at the ready, and loads of experience treating this skin problem.  Which means better results for you.

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Article Sources

  • Whitney KM, Ditre CM. "Management Strategies for Acne Vulgaris." Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology 4 (2011): 41-53.
  • Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, Alikhan A, Baldwin HE, et. al. "Guidelines of Care for the Management of Acne Vulgaris." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 74.5 (2016): 945-73.