Break Up with Breakouts: The Best Acne Skincare Routine, Revealed

Break Up with Breakouts: The Best Acne Skincare Routine, Revealed

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Acne–it’s not just about a few pimples here and there; it’s navigating a landscape of insecurity, frustration, and self-doubt. When acne surfaces, it doesn’t just affect our skin — it can negatively affect our mood and self-image. But armed with this knowledge and an effective skincare routine, you can face acne (white) head-on (see what we did there?). 

What is acne?

Understanding acne goes beyond knowing it’s caused by bacteria buildup in pores (which, we are all aware of now, right?). Acne can appear in various forms, from blackheads to cystic acne, each presenting challenges. “Acne is a chronic multi-factorial skin disease, so treating it is never about using just one ingredient,” Shari Marchbein, MD told Women’s Health. Dr. Marchbein is a dermatologist specializing in adult female acne at NYU School of Medicine. “It’s about combining active ingredients together in order to target the different forms and causes of acne.” Genetics, hormonal changes, and diet all contribute to its development. 

Step 1: Cleanse

Cleansing is the foundation of any effective skincare routine (acne or not), because it’s the crucial first step in removing dirt, oil, and bacteria accumulated throughout the day (or while we sleep). Choose a gentle cleanser that doesn’t strip away the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Gel-based cleansers work wonders for oily skin. Dry or sensitive skin may benefit from hydrating cream-based cleansers. Consider adding the Soniqué or the travel-friendly Soniqué Mini, gentle and effective sonic cleansing brushes with red and blue light therapy settings, to your daily routine (and read more about the acne-fighting properties of blue light therapy below).

Hand holding Lux Collection Sonique Mini sonic cleanser with LED lights on. Cleanser is being applied to the silicone brush head on top of the device.

Step 2: Exfoliate

Exfoliation is a game-changer in any skincare routine. Sloughing away dead skin cells reveals smoother, brighter skin underneath. Moreover, getting rid of all that gunk prevents clogged pores (which notoriously can cause breakouts). Avoid over-exfoliation, as this can strip the skin of its natural oils and irritate it. Gentle exfoliants like salicylic acid and glycolic acid are excellent choices, as they penetrate deep into the pores, unclogging them and promoting clearer skin over time. Exfoliating one to two times weekly will minimize the risk of irritation or damage.

Step 3: Treatment

When it comes to tackling acne head-on, chemical treatment is key. Fortunately, many acne-fighting ingredients and methods are available, each with unique benefits. Benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria on the skin’s surface, making it great for targeting active breakouts. Retinoids, vitamin A derivatives that promote cell turnover and help prevent the formation of new acne lesions, are ideal for treating existing acne and preventing future breakouts. Naturally-microbial tea tree oil can also reduce inflammation and fight acne-causing bacteria.

Step 4: Blue light therapy

Light therapy has emerged as a powerful weapon in the fight against acne. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engleman in an interview with WWD, blue light therapy is “a great, safe, and noninvasive option for helping treat and even prevent acne breakouts because it targets and destroys Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium found on the skin that is responsible for acne.” Incorporating light therapy treatments into your skincare routine is actually pretty easy with at-home devices like the LED Treatment Panel. While masks have to be worn only on the face, this device gets bonus points for its large surface area, which makes treating the chest and back a breeze (and Alicia Keys swears by it)

Woman using blue light setting on Lux Collection LED Treatment Panel. She is sitting on the bed and the device is held directly to her face.

Step 5: Moisturize

Contrary to popular belief, moisturizers aren’t just for dry or normal skin — everyone, including those with oily or acne-prone skin, can benefit. While it might seem counterintuitive to slather on moisturizer when your skin already feels slick, skipping this step can prompt your skin to produce even more oil to compensate. Therefore, moisturizing is crucial for maintaining a healthy skin barrier and preventing excessive oil production. Always opt for non-comedogenic, oil-free formulas for oily or acne-prone skin types. These moisturizers hydrate the skin without leaving a greasy residue, helping to keep pores clear and blemishes at bay.

Step 6: Sunscreen

Sunscreen isn’t just for days spent outside — it’s a must for preventing post-acne hyperpigmentation and sun damage. Look for lightweight, non-greasy formulas tailored for acne-prone skin. Options with ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide offer broad-spectrum protection without clogging pores.

Additional Tips for Managing Acne

Avoiding the temptation to pick at pimples is crucial for preventing scarring. As Dr. Hadley King, a NYC board-certified dermatologist, emphasized in The Cut, “Picking a pimple increases inflammation and healing time — and increases the risk for infection, discoloration, and scarring.”

Young African-American woman using Lux Collection Spot Treatment device with LED blue light therapy on her cheek. She is standing in a well-lit, airy bathroom.

For managing acne flare-ups, consider a light therapy device like the Lux Collection Spot Treatment, which targets bacteria and inflammation directly. Incorporating calming skincare ingredients such as aloe vera and niacinamide can also help soothe irritated skin.

Knowing when to seek professional help is essential. If acne persists despite at-home treatments or is severe, it’s time to consult a dermatologist for a personalized treatment. But for most acne sufferers out there, with dedication and the right approach, clearing acne is achievable. Explore your options and adopt a new acne skincare routine, and you may find a renewed sense of confidence and appreciation for the reflection staring back at you in the mirror.

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