How You Should Actually Treat Your Acne, According To Dermatologists

Three women in blue silk capes posing with clear skin without acne issues

Pimples, zits, cysts, whatever you want to call them—acne has always been the bane of our existence. From teenage breakouts to adult flare-ups, these pesky spots pop up at the most inconvenient times and, too often, we’re left trying to fix the mess our hormones left behind. To get to the bottom of the problem once and for all, we turned to the pros for answers. Below, expert-approved methods for dealing with acne.

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Clear Skin Ahead

If you are experiencing zits on your forehead, hairline, back and/or butt, the main culprit is sweat, which you should treat with an over-the-counter treatment. Dr. Kimberly Jerdan, MD., recommends incorporating a daily benzoyl peroxide product like a foaming wash or spot treatment into your routine because “benzoyl peroxide is a bactericidal agent,” that kills the majority of acne bacteria before it has a chance to clog the pores. To swiftly eradicate pimples, we dab on Kate Somerville Anti Bac Clearing Lotion to minimize excess oil production and to calm current breakouts without leaving the skin parched.


If over-the-counter ingredients aren't clearing up your complexion, it’s time to move on to a more powerful solution like a retinoid. "Retinoids work by reducing production of pore-clogging oil and exfoliate the skin on a microscopic level, preventing the first step in the formation of every zit, a clogged pore," shares dermatologist Dr. Reyhaneh Hamidi. "People with sensitive skin do have to be careful with retinoids, as they can lead to dryness and irritation." PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment contains 0.5% retinol along with 2% salicylic acid, which fluidly work together to clear pores and leave skin balanced.

For serious acneic skin, it's time to up the ante even further and try a high-tech solution, "especially for those with prominent red scars from their acne or those with combined acne and rosacea. A series of laser treatments will reduce redness, eliminate future zits and clear active breakouts," states Dr. Hamidi. A favorite amongst the Hollywood crowd is the Fraxel laser because it uses light energy to stimulate the skin's natural collagen to rejuvenate the skin cells below the surface, softening and smoothing fine lines and scars.

Research Counts

We love that coconut oil can restore moisture to our strands. However, its popularity as a trendy moisturizer, "is a no-go for acne-prone skin," exclaims Dr. Jerdan. When applied to reactive complexions, coconut oil can exacerbate breakouts by further clogging the pores and worsening current inflammation. Those with acne are best suited to using a light-but-hydrating moisturizer like Korres Pomegranate Balancing Cream-Gel Moisturizer. This cream-to-gel formula contains hyaluronic acid to provide long-lasting hydration and salicylic acid to soothe redness and breakouts.