Acne is an equal opportunity skin condition. Although people with naturally oily complexions tend to be especially pimple-prone, even those whose skin type is considered normal get blackheads, blemishes, and even full-blown breakouts. That’s because an abundance of oil in the skin isn’t the only thing that can trigger acne. Hormonal changes or even using products that are so drying to skin that it tries to compensate by producing excess oil can lead to a breakout.
If you have normal skin and are prone to acne, you may want to deal with it differently than someone with oily skin. To keep your skin in the clear, keep these five tips for preventing and treating breakouts in mind.
Don’t Just Spot Treat
The most common over-the-counter acne treatments are based on either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. They work by preventing pimples from forming in the first place, so dabbing them onto existing blemishes after they appear won’t effectively clear up your skin.
To get acne under control—in other words, to stave off pimples—note where you tend to get them and apply treatment medications in those areas even if you don’t have any visible blemishes.
Get a Good Moisturizer
Acne medications can be extremely drying to the skin. While someone whose complexion tends to be oily may welcome this side effect, if your skin is normal or already on the dry side, it won’t feel comfortable. The antidote is to use a moisturizer along with your acne treatment, but choose it well: Look for a face cream that’s labeled “noncomedogenic,” which means it won’t clog pores and use it as directed. Don’t be afraid to go for a rich formulation.
It goes without saying, but in a day and age when multi-tasking is the only way for most people to get from point A to point B throughout the day, it’s worth mentioning: In order for an acne medication (or any medication, for that matter) to work, it needs to be used regularly and as directed. Otherwise, you won’t see any improvement. Try not to skip days. If this turns out to be tough for you, leave your acne medication in plain sight, along with your toothpaste and other daily-use items, or set a reminder alarm on your phone.
Don’t Go for the Strongest Treatment
Because you’re starting with skin that’s normal, rather than oily, you won’t need the strongest—read most drying—acne treatment you can find. While minor irritation from acne medications is normal, the product you use should not be so strong that it stings like crazy, burns like heck, or makes your skin peel as if you’ve been sunburned. You’ll likely get good results from a gentle formulation.
Go See a Pro
A good over-the-counter acne medication, if you use it correctly and consistently, will most likely help keep acne breakouts at bay. But although OTC treatments are good starting point, don’t waste time and money trying every single one on the shelf. First of all, there are so many different ones you could spend a year experimenting. More to the point, if you don’t get results from any after three months or so, it’s time to see a dermatologist who can evaluate your acne and perhaps to write a prescription for an acne treatment that’s more likely to work for you and get your acne under control once and for all.