Keep in mind that even if some products market themselves toward severe acne breakouts, all the kits we looked at are definitely designed for mild to moderate acne. Not sure where you fit on that scale? You’re not alone! When you’re in the middle of a breakout, all acne seems severe, so it can be difficult to self-diagnose your symptoms. We talked to dermatologists and cosmetic chemists to better understand the differences between various types of acne, and have compiled an acne guide below.
Like Olay, Estee Lauder Perfectionist does not contain retinol or fragrance so it’s a good choice for sensitive skin. Because it contains no sunscreen, it should not be used as a daily moisturizing lotion unless it’s used under an SPF-rated product, such as a daily facial moisturizer. However, many users say they use it day and night, layering it under other products.
Once my canvas is clear and I have the facial muscle structure of a seasoned saxophone player, I like to take a journey to my personal, at-home sauna. It’s where I plug in my beloved Dr. Dennis Gross facial steamer. After feeding her some bottled distilled water (I know), I sit on my toilet (the lid!) and allow the device to bless me with a soothing mist of light steam to annihilate anything lingering in my pores. This turns my face into a delicate, porcelain sponge that will soak in every last drop of sorcery that’s to come.
Remember this home remedy the next time you get a big pimple: Do several cycles of hot compresses, then apply a glob of 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, like Aveeno hydrocortisone anti-itch cream ($6; at drugstore.com, and let it sit for two hours. “It’s very similar to getting a shot of hydrocortisone to deflate the bump,” says Dr. Fusco.
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IT Cosmetics’ Confidence in a Cream Moisturizing Super Cream ($48) is another wrinkle cream in a jar that’s worth a mention. Like Dr. Dennis and La Prairie, it contains retinoids, AHAs, and sodium hyaluronate. It’s a little cheaper than Dr. Dennis, but it also uses a type of retinoid (retinyl retinoate) that’s weaker than the retinol that’s found in Dr. Dennis and La Prairie. This means it may take longer to see results but is less likely to irritate your skin, especially if you’re prone to sensitivity. While it comes in a jar, testers liked its mild citrus scent and creamy formula.
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Shhhh…you didn’t here it from us, but popping a pimple can actually be OK sometimes, if you do it the right (not-scar-inducing) way! Zits always seem to show up when you’re already stressed, so don’t take out your existing troubles on your poor, helpless face. Only give the spot a squeeze if it’s white on top. Using two cotton swabs, gently press on both sides of the little sucker until it pops. Once you’ve cleaned off the gunk, dab a salicylic acid treatment on top.
Moisturize your skin. Your moisturizer goes on after your toner absorbs. You can massage your moisturizer into your skin using upward circular motions to your face and neck. Alternatively, you can apply it to your clean palms and gently pat it in.
“One tip to know when your skin is ready for seriously creamy moisturizers: Your lips feel dry first, so you know the humidity has dropped, and it’s time for more moisture.” –Ellen Marmur, dermatologist, New York City
All of a sudden, it happens. Here a zit, there a zit, everywhere a zit. It’s both puzzling and frustratingly counterproductive to experience acne after making changes to your routine, but it’s not uncommon.
When you’re tired, it can be tempting to go to bed without washing your face. But leaving makeup on your skin can clog your pores and cause acne. So wash it off with a gentle cleanser or makeup remover. Use a soft wash cloth or cotton pads. If you use acne medicine, now’s a good time to put it on — when your face is clean and you won’t be putting on makeup.
Why He Loves It: When it comes to fine-line-targeting products, consistency is key, as in: You need to follow your routine Every. Single. Day. Thankfully, this is one product you’ll be happy to make a daily ritual —no irritation giving you pause. Not only is it fortified with “blackberry and dill [extracts] to stimulate elastin and improve skin’s bounce,” but it also contains SPF 30 to protect your skin from future damage.
My Experience: Though I often remove my makeup with coconut oil, I’d never really double-cleansed before. The oil alone always felt like enough. However, I really enjoyed the second cleansing step, especially after a long day running around the city or the office. After washing away the foam, it felt like my skin was completely cleared of any bad particles, leaving a clean slate to work with for the rest of the regimen. I tried the Neogen Dermalogy Cranberry Real Fresh Foam Cleanser ($22, amazon.com), which has actual cranberry fruit particles in it.
“It’s a lightweight moisturizing serum which contains a human-derived stem cell extract. I recommend this product to my patients to expedite healing after laser procedures, but I also use it every night over my retinol. The serum contains peptides which help the skin to repair itself and stay healthy.”
Zinc Oxide Sunscreen: “Oily-skinned ladies are the least likely to use sunscreen because they can’t find one compatible to their skin type,” Rouleau says. “Definitely look for zinc oxide sunscreens because those will leave a more matte finish to your skin. Plus, it’s a natural antibacterial and ideal for people prone to breakouts.” Try Rouleau’s Daily Protection SPF 30 ($38), Coola’s Matte Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($20), or Drunk Elephant’s Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30 ($34). If you can’t find an SPF that works for you, try a mineral-based powder like Colorscience’s Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Sun Protection SPF 30 ($64) to act as your sunscreen.
Like any other skin type, black skin requires protection from the sun. Always apply a sunscreen to keep your skin well protected from the harmful rays of the sun. Using a sunblock provides a barrier of protection between your skin and the sun, forcing sun rays to bounce off the skin. Use a sunscreen with an SPF 15. If you suffer from a medical condition such as lupus or have discolorations and dark spots, look for a sunscreen with an SPF 30. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure, taking care to apply it generously on all exposed parts of the body.
“When you eat hydrating fruits and vegetables like grapefruit or cucumber, the water penetrates and plumps up cells better than drinking water,” Dr. Murad says. Aim for three daily servings of fruit and five of veggies.
Wear sunscreen everyday. Daily sun exposure can cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and other problems. Even if you don’t plan on going outside for long, put on sunscreen before you leave home. Your sunscreen should be SPF 30 or higher. Apply it fifteen minutes before going outside. 
It is a myth that oily skin need not be hydrated. Understand that Oil is not moisture. Keep your skin hydrated by consuming lots of water. Use a good moisturizer, the one which matches your oily skin, so that your skin continues to be hydrated.
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My Experience: Since redness is a major issue of mine, I was all in on this serum step. It’s also one that I’m used to completing on a regular basis. For this week, I used Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Essence Serum ($64, amazon.com), which feels a lot like a gel but spreads easily. It left a smooth layer over the skin similar to how a cream would without any stickiness or grease. It also gave a dewy effect that didn’t look wet or sweaty, just faint enough to look healthy. I’m crediting the serum combined with the moisturizer for my skin feeling so smooth in the mornings.
When your acid mantle is damaged, you’re actually more susceptible to breakouts, enlarged pores, and inflammation. To make matters worse, evaporating all the oil on your face can actually set your sebaceous glands into overdrive, leaving your skin oilier than ever. If any product included a simple alcohol high up in its ingredients list, we nixed its whole kit.
In every case, introducing a retinol into your night regimen will normalize your skin, encouraging it to shed and rebuild in a healthier way. “Retinols are fantastic multitaskers, proven to clear pimples and fade the marks they leave behind,” explains New York City dermatologist Doris Day. The vitamin A derivatives can be irritating, but this version contains a tolerable .1 percent of the over-the-counter retinaldehyde. Ease in by using yours just two or three nights a week and topping it with one of those inflammation-curbing oils we mentioned earlier. (As skin adjusts, up the frequency, adding one night each week.)
Experts agree that price is no indicator of the overall effectiveness of wrinkle creams. In fact, many of the best wrinkle creams can be found at the drugstore — and we encountered more reviews for these affordable brands than we did for expensive department-store wrinkle creams. Although many of those pricey products feel more luxurious on the skin, experts say the vast majority work no better than budget formulas with the same active ingredients.
This rosewater spray is a classic in makeup bags everywhere—including Emma Watson’s. Simply spritz all over your face whenever you’re skin feels dehydrated, whether from a long flight or extra time spent in the sun.
Choose a foaming cleanser. Foaming cleansers work the best for oily skin as they remove oil gently. You only need a small amount for your whole face. Foaming cleansers come in gel, pump, and cream form.
Avoid touching your face. Touching your face can transfer bacteria and dirt from your hands to your face. These can cause pimples. If you must touch your face, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm first.
However, Boots No7 Lift & Luminate Night Cream earns only a 2-star rating at Beautypedia. While Begoun acknowledges that it makes skin feel “smooth, silky-soft, and beautifully hydrated,” and praises its good mix of ingredients, she dings it for containing fragrance — a serious concern for those with chemical sensitivities. It’s also packaged in a jar instead of a more sanitary pump-style dispenser. Dipping your fingers into a jar lends itself to the risk of contaminating the ingredients. Still, many people prefer jar packaging for its convenience, and if you wash your hands before applying and have no sensitivities to fragrances, we highly recommend this product — it’s a great performer at a not-too-bad price.
Product picks from my practice include All Natural Face and Body Butter Cream or All Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion. Other sensitive skin product options include Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream or Daily Moisturizing Lotion, CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion.)
When body weight goes up and down, it loosens elasticity and makes skin sag, says Dr. Levine. So she suggests finding a happy medium (even if it’s heavier) on the scale: “You lose the weight first in the face, but a fuller face may just look younger.”
“It’s a common misconception that those with an oily skin should avoid moisturizers,” Dr. Howard Murad told Bustle. In fact, it’s vital that even oily skin gets moisture because without it, skin will overcompensate for the loss of hydration [with more oil], leading to breakouts and an uneven skin texture.”