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We’ve all experienced blemishes in one form or another. But what even is a zit, anyway — other than a huge pain, literally and figuratively? Well, there are two types of zits: non-inflammatory blemishes (whiteheads and blackheads) and acne, an inflammatory condition caused by four main factors (we’ll get to those later).
If you’re one of those people who struggles with acne, thank the clear-skin gods that there are tons of treatment options that can help — from gentle (yet powerful) sulfur-based formulas that reduce acne and help fight future breakouts by absorbing excess oil, like Kate Somerville EradiKate™ Acne Treatment, to blue-light devices that work their magic by killing acne-causing bacteria.
Here are the four main reasons you’re going through tubes of concealer like no one’s biz.
Finding yourself constantly reaching for blotting papers? Your body may be producing too much oil due to Sunday-scary stress or even your summer travel (sorry).
Dead skin cells are not our friends, but you know what is? Exfoliation. In fact, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, it can help treat your breakouts. “Exfoliating prevents dead skin cells from clumping together and clogging your pores,” says Dr. Zeichner. Opt for treatments with ingredients like salicylic acid to help exfoliate and reduce oil. Our fave? Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment, which reduces blemish size (yas) and redness in as little as four hours.
The real culprit here is the overgrowth of P. Acnes bacteria — not just the presence of it. “Everyone has the P. Acnes bacteria in their hair follicles at all times,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD. To combat said bacteria from getting out of hand, try an at-home blue-light device or topical antibiotics. Bye, Felicia.
You know how acne looks red and angry all the time? Well, that’s inflammation for ya. And while there are many causes of inflammation, dairy and sugar are two main culprits. But before you purge your fridge of all its goodness, know that not all dairy is created equal. “Skim milk is the only type of milk that’s been shown to cause acne breakouts,” says Dr. Zeichner. May we suggest tweaking your morning latte order?
Banishing zits might seem simple at first, but turns out, it’s not so black and white. “Dermatologists often recommend a combination of treatments; we want to target all four causes,” says Dr. Shah. (See the previous tab for more on each cause.) Adopt a well-rounded approach (sort of like, say, your college electives) via these six rock-star treatments.
This beta hydroxy acid gently exfoliates and removes excess oil deep in your pores.
This bacteria-fighting technology targets the P. Acnes bacteria — and it actually works. For an at-home version that won’t cost your entire paycheck, try the Foreo Espada Acne-Clearing Blue Light Pen. Simply use it a few times per week, and reap the benefits.
This gentle treatment draws out oil from clogged pores.
This vitamin A derivative sloughs away dead skin cells. Bonus: The multitasking ingredient also boosts collagen levels.
This topical antibiotic kills the P. Acnes bacteria. Fair warning: It can be harsh on sensitive skin.
This essential oil’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties will fight bacteria and, you guessed it, reduce inflammation in pimples.
We’ve covered what acne is, why you get it, and how you can treat it. Now, you’re probably wondering what the heck your routine should look like. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Keeping your skin clean and ridding it of dirt and sebum is obvs important, but if you have sensitive skin, be careful not to overdo it with formulas featuring ingredients like benzoyl peroxide. Instead, look for cleansers containing salicylic acid — an active that’s gentle, yet effective.