I've been struggling with acne for over two years now. I've been to two different dermatologists, been on three types of antibiotics and four different medicated cleansers/creams and nothing helped my skin.
I took it upon myself to start finding over the counter products that work for my skin type and these are some tips and products that have helped my skin improve so much over the past year.
Disclaimer: everyone's skin is different (I have combination, acne prone, olive skin) and these tips may not work for everyone, but they definitely worked for me!
Prep AND Prime Your Skin Before Makeup!
I've noticed that my skin is a lot happier with me by the end of the day if I do my normal skin routine on top of adding a primer on my skin whenever I wear makeup. I use Cetaphil daily face cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen daily, which have all helped my skin so much.
Don't Overdo Skin Treatments/Masks!
Limit yourself to one skin treatment per night and two skin masks per week to ensure that you don't damage your skin.
Invest in a Good Toner!
I swear my life changed once I started using toner. It's meant to be used after cleansing to restore the pH balance of your skin. I use a Thayers alcohol-free toner, which is great for sensitive skin because it isn't too harsh. Also, there is aloe vera in this particular toner which is great for reducing redness and the appearance of scars.
Always Use Moisturizer!
Yes, even if you have oily skin. It's a common misconception that people with oily skin don't need a moisturizer when, in most cases, that's so far from the truth. A lot of people with oily skin have it because their skin is actually dry, so it begins to produce excess oils to defeat the dryness.
ALWAYS USE SUNSCREEN!
I wish someone told me this a long time ago. If you're anything like me and have scars on your face (mine are from acne, but any type of scars are applicable), then being in the sun only makes them darker and harder to get rid of.
Use Products With the Same Base Ingredient!
Using products that have different ingredients (such as oil and water based products) can cause them to not mix well and separate easier. Also, if you use retinol or vitamin A creams/serums and use a vitamin C serum as well, it will definitely increase sensitivity in your skin since both are very powerful ingredients.
Stop Using Makeup Wipes!
I could go on for days about how bad makeup wipes are for you. Their only pro: they're convenient. Aside from that one pro, they irritate your skin, they don't get all of your makeup off (it's the true definition of surface cleaning), and they can definitely worsen fine lines, wrinkles and hyper-pigmentation.
Stop Picking At Your Face!
I never listened to people whenever they said that if you pop one pimple then two will come back in its place. Well, I still don't think that's exactly true but whenever you pop a pimple, dust, dirt and even the oils from your fingertips are exposed to the open pore.
Start Reading the Ingredients in the Products You Buy!
Avoid products that contain parabens, sulfates, and if you have sensitive skin, avoid fragrances as well. Also, avoid Oxybenzone (a common ingredient in sunscreens) because it disrupts your normal hormonal levels and can lead to serious reproductive/health issues in both men and women. I use the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen which is Oxybenzone-free.
Watch What You Eat/Drink!
You've probably heard it hundreds of times, but water is your best friend! Spicy and fried foods and foods high in dairy can lead to breakouts.
Skin Mapping is SO Useful!
The location of your acne can be the first indicator that there may be an underlying issue.