How Do I Get Really Clear Skin?
The road to really clear skin is fraught with trial and error. Finding the acne treatment that works for you and sticking with your home care treatment involves both patience and diligence. As the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) points out, there's no overnight cure for acne that will give you a pristine complexion, and camouflaging pimples under a thick mask of makeup only makes your acne worse. To get really clear skin, start with the basics by learning how various active ingredients in acne treatments work so you can decide what's best for you.
Become an avid label-reader. The Mayo Clinic states that there are nonprescription acne treatments that can clear up mild cases of acne, if you know what active ingredients to look for. Commonly used ingredients include benzoyl peroxide, which the Mayo Clinic and AAD recommend as the best overall acne-fighting ingredient; but also salicylic acid (sometimes called beta hydroxy acid) and combinations of sulfur and resorcinol and alcohol and acetone. These ingredients can cause certain side effects such as dry, flaky irritated skin, especially during the first month you use them, cautions the Mayo Clinic. Use drugstore acne products only as directed to reduce your risk of side effects.
Wash your face and other parts of the body affected by acne at least twice a day using warm water a gentle cleanser that's water soluble. Skincare professional Paula Begoun cautions against using cleansers that "tingle" when you use them--this is a sign that the cleanser is irritating your skin. The AAD urges you to use your fingertips or hands when cleaning your skin rather than a harsh facial puff, which can exacerbate your pores and cause them to produce more acne-causing oil. If you're wearing waterproof eye makeup or a lot of makeup, Begoun notes that it's fine to use a washcloth, as long as you use a new one each time you cleanse.
Apply a topical drugstore acne treatment after you cleanse. Begoun advises using a toner that contains 2 percent salicylic acid and then applying a topical treatment that contains benzoyl peroxide (2.5 to 5 percent, depending on the severity of your acne). Salicylic acid has a gentle exfoliating effect that clears your pores, Begoun explains, while benzoyl peroxide acts as a disinfectant.
Choose your cosmetics carefully. Again, it pays off to be a careful label reader. Look for the words "oil free," "nonacnegenic" or "noncomedogenic" not only on makeup, but sunscreen, styling products and other skincare. These words mean that the product won't clog your pores. Also, the AAD notes that makeup should be applied after your acne treatment--never before.
See a dermatologist if your skin doesn't clear up. At-home acne treatments take between six and eight weeks before you'll notice an improvement, but the AAD cautions that it generally takes around six months for your skin to clear up entirely. If over-the-counter acne treatments don't work for you, there are numerous prescription topical and oral medications and treatment methods that are more effective.
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