For some, acne is nothing more than a minor bump in the road (or on your face). Once in a while, you get one or two swollen spots that eventually calm down and go away. For others, acne is an ongoing problem with widespread pimples and painful, cyst-like bumps that can leave scars. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re on, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve had breakouts at some point in your life. Research has shown that 90% of the world’s population has experienced acne in some form, and it affects up to 50 million Americans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. And while we tend to think of acne as a teen problem brought on by surging hormones and oily skin, the inflammatory skin condition often rears its ugly head well into adulthood, too. One recent review found that 12 to 22% of adult women in North America experience acne.
The message is clear: acne is an issue for many of us. So, how do we effectively combat it? The skincare market has no shortage of pimple solutions. But if you’re like most people, you probably have a drawer full of products that either didn’t work so well or left your skin irritated. Here, we’ll explain the crucial components you need in a skincare routine for acne to help treat the appearance of current breakouts and keep future zits from erupting.
What causes acne?
Before we get into treatments, let’s talk about why you’re getting those breakouts. There are three causes of breakouts—first, excess oil. The sebaceous glands start pumping too much sebum or oil for various reasons, including hormones. That gets lodged in your pores along with dead skin and other debris, making a very hospitable environment for bacteria to thrive. That brings us to the second cause of acne: acne-causing bacteria. The third cause? Inflammation. That oil-clogged pore triggers an inflammatory response, causing redness and swelling.
What’s in an acne regimen?
Take a quick look at the active ingredients on the back of acne treatments in your local drugstore, and you’ll notice a whole lot of overlap. That’s because there are only three FDA-approved ingredients for over-the-counter use: salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that deep cleans pores; sulfur, which has some antimicrobial properties to kill that acne-causing bacteria; and benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial agent. So, if we’re primarily working with the same set of ingredients, why don’t all acne treatments work? The answer lies within the formulation of the product.
Many acne products target only one of those three causes of acne. The typical skincare routine for oily, acne-prone skin may kill bacteria, but it does nothing to address the excess oil and the resulting inflammation, so breakouts keep coming back. Or, they’re formulated to be very harsh on your skin. So, they dry up that zit but strip the skin of its essential oils, leaving the rest of your skin flaky and dehydrated. Research has shown that healthy skin is made up of a balance of good and bad bacteria—what’s called the skin’s microbiome. If you use an overly aggressive treatment on your pimples, you risk killing all the bacteria (even the good stuff), which leaves your skin vulnerable and highly irritated.
So, how do acne products work?
It’s a combination of targeting the causes of acne while respecting that delicate balance of the skin’s microbiome. Enter Perricone MD Acne Relief Prebiotic Acne Therapy. “What’s wonderful about our Acne Relief franchise is that, first, it safely yet effectively targets the three main causes of acne: excess oil, acne-causing bacteria and inflammation,” says Rosalba Martone, director of education for Perricone MD. “Secondly, we take a prebiotic approach, which means we focus on supporting the skin’s natural microbiome while fighting off the bad bacteria to keep skin looking healthy. This equates to an acne-busting system for all ages that doesn’t leave skin feeling stripped- but rather clear, calm and balanced,” she says. Think of prebiotics as food for good bacteria. Plus, the system helps replenish hydration while reducing the excess oil that leads to clogged, inflamed pores, so your skin won’t dry out.
The Step-by-Step Approach to Acne
Acne Relief Prebiotic Acne Therapy is a comprehensive system that utilizes salicylic acid to treat and prevent the appearance of acne throughout all stages of your skincare routine. Let’s break it down:
- Cleanse: The Acne Relief Gentle & Soothing Cleanser eliminates excess oil and deep-cleans pores while keeping skin hydrated and healthy with squalane. Sucrose, a mild exfoliant, helps to remove dead skin cells.
- Tone: A new addition to the Acne Relief Collection, the Acne Relief Gentle Exfoliating Toner preps skin for your treatments while unclogging pores to clear blemishes, whiteheads and blackheads via lactic and succinic acids. Citrulline helps to calm and soothe acne-prone skin.
- Treat & Moisturize: In the morning, use the Acne Relief Calming Treatment & Hydrator, which is a lightweight lotion that targets bacteria while preventing irritation and dryness with citrulline and squalane. At night, use the Acne Relief Retinol Treatment & Moisturizer with a powerful combination of retinol and niacinamide to help accelerate surface skin exfoliation and visibly reduce redness caused by blemishes.
- Spot treat: The Acne Relief Maximum Strength Spot Gel gets applied directly to blemishes. Lactic and succinic acids work on acne-causing bacteria, while tea tree oil clarifies and soothes skin.
- Mask: Another newcomer to the Acne Relief Collection, the Acne Relief Calming & Soothing Clay Mask can be used a few times a week or as an overnight spot treatment. Lactobacillus ferment helps support a healthy skin microbiome, while willowherb extract soothes skin and bentonite clay helps to detoxify skin by drawing dirt, oil, and other impurities from the pores.
Consistency—and Patience—is Key with a Skincare Routine for Acne
If you want to clear your acne and keep it gone, you have to use your acne regimen regularly—not just when you have a breakout. It takes weeks for a zit to hit the surface, so you want to target what’s deep within your pores before it gets to that point—and keep them clean to prevent future breakouts.