Create the Perfect Acne-Prone Skin Care Routine

Easy 4 Step Acne-Busting Skin Care Regimen

Young woman washing face
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A good acne skin care routine is so important for blemish-prone skin. A daily skin care regimen helps remove excess oil, keeps pores clear, and speeds healing of breakouts.

But your daily acne skin care routine doesn't need to take a lot of time — just a few minutes twice a day. Follow the guidelines below to help keep your skin feeling refreshed and clean.

The best part? No need to buy expensive products.

Use what you have in your bathroom right now.

Step 1: Cleanse Gently, but Well.

Using only your fingertips or a soft washcloth (no rough scrubbing pads, please) thoroughly cleanse the face, including your jawline, neck, and in front of and behind the ears.

Make sure you're using the right cleanser for your skin. An over-the-counter acne treatment wash is a good choice if you have mild breakouts. Pick one that contains either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

If you're using any prescription acne medications, you'll need a gentle, non-medicated cleanser instead.  Unscented Dove, Cetaphil, or the old school amber Neutrogena bar are all good choices.

If you wear face makeup, or if your skin gets extra dirty or sweaty during the day (like if you play on a sports team or after you work out) do a double wash at night: cleanse, rinse well, and repeat.

Just remember, don't use harsh bar soaps, antibacterial hand washes, and the like on your face.

Harsh soaps won't clear your acne, but they will irritate your skin.

Step 2: Use Toner or Astringent.

Astringents or toners can help remove excess oil, and some even contain acne-fighting ingredients.  Apply toner to a cotton ball or pad and gently smooth over the face and neck to help remove any leftover makeup, cleanser residue, and oil.

Alcohol-free products are the best choices if your skin is irritated by acne treatments or if you have lots of open pimples. Alcohol-based toners can sting.

But if toners or astringents seem to over-dry or irritate your skin, don’t use them. Ditto if you're using prescription acne medications (they already dry out your skin). You aren't going to harm your skin by not using a toner.

Step 3: Apply Your Acne Treatment Medications.

After your toner has dried completely, smooth on your acne treatment creams as directed. This could be a medication prescribed by your doctor, or an over-the-counter acne gel or cream. Let the medication absorb or dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Need help choosing an acne treatment medication? Give your dermatologist or family physician a call.

Step 4: Apply an Oil-Free Moisturizer or Gel.

It may seem counterintuitive to moisturize your already oily skin, but don't skip this important step.

Many acne medications over-dry the skin, leaving the skin thirsty for moisture. To reduce dry and peeling skin, apply a light moisturizer twice daily.

Moisturizing gels and lotions are generally lighter than creams. Either way, choose one that is labeled oil-free and noncomedogenic.

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