The occasional zit is NBD. That’s why concealer was invented! But if you’re regularly seeing lots of spots, and need a plan to nix them ASAP — we’ve got you. Here, skincare experts spill everything you need to clear up your skin in a month or less (AKA just in time for the first day of school).
The first and most important rule isn’t groundbreaking: you’ve got to stick to your regimen. Cleansing and treating your skin twice a day is the best way to keep breakouts away, explains celebrity medical aesthetician Mashell Tabe. Your derm can guide you through what works best for your skin, but Dr. Kally Papantoniou with Advanced Dermatology PC suggests:
- an exfoliating cleanser with glycolic or salicylic acid
- a benzoyl peroxide wash (to alternate with the other cleanser)
- an antioxidant serum that contains vitamin C to combat inflammation
- a cream or serum that contains retinol to prevent clogged pores and blackheads (to use before bed)
- a non-comedogenic moisturizer with sunscreen like Cerave AM Lotion
Lazy girl tip: Keep face wipes and an extra tube of your nighttime treatment in the drawer of your nightstand. This way if you get home super late and don’t feel like going all the way to the sink, you can still stick to your skincare plan.
Skip the sugar
Sad but true: Any foods that cause a spike in insulin can lead to inflammation and an acne flare, explains Dr. Papantoniou. Aim for a skin-friendly diet of leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, and plenty of water to keep quenched. Tip: Try sipping spearmint tea. According to Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, dermatologist and founder of Epionce Skincare, having two cups a day could reduce acne by 25%!
Change your pillow cases
Unwashed sheets and pillowcases lead to cross contamination which leads to pimples, according to Tabe. Aim to wash your bedding once or twice a week to prevent bacteria from building up and affecting your complexion, suggests Dr. Papantoniou. If that seems overboard, at least aim to wash your pillowcase once a week since that’s where your face rests while you snooze (and dream of flawless skin).
Always Clean Up Post-Gym or Sports
“After sweating, immediately use an exfoliating cleanser to help keep your pores clear and remove excess oil,” says Dr. Zein Obagi of ZO Skin Health. Dr. Papantoniou also recommends keeping Neutorogena Rapid Clear Pads in your gym bag or locker. These will remove any leftover dirt while treating your skin with acne-fighting salicylic acid.
Go Easy on Your iPhone
Think of how many times a day you touch your phone! That thing gets pretty germy. To stay in the clear, clean your screen daily with an alcohol wipe. And when possible, Dr. Papantoniou recommends using the speaker option or headphones so your phone isn’t resting on your face as often.
Stash a Heal + Conceal Stick in Your Locker
If a midday zit pops up, swipe it with concealer loaded with blemish-shrinking ingredients. This way you can cover it up and treat it in one step. ZO Skin Health Offects Correct & Conceal Acne Concealer Stick will do the trick.
“Try your best not to touch your face, lean on your hands, or pick at any zits,” says Dr. Thornfeldt. “This can add bacteria to the skin which can aggravate the acne.” And just to be safe, keep some antibac gel in your purse and apply a few times a day to keep your hands clean in case you do end up touching your face.