In case you haven’t noticed, acne is the #1 most common skin condition in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects a staggering 50 million people annually. Though the majority of people experience acne between the ages of 12 and 24, this can occur at any stage of life and continue well into adulthood.
While it may seem like we have no control over these pesky breakouts, here at Dermstore we’re all about uncovering the best products to help shoppers tackle common skin concerns like acne. To learn some additional truths about this topic, we attended La Roche-Posay’s Acne Dermclass at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood to get the facts about acne and how to achieve a clearer complexion.
Alongside the brand and some of beauty and fashion’s best influencers, we got the chance to participate in a live panel hosted by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu, where she answered our top questions about acne and skin care. See what the doctor has to say about post-partum acne, her take on blue light devices and more!
1. Acne and rosacea may look alike, but they’re not the same.
According to Dr. Chiu, acne and rosacea are both characterized by underlying inflammation. But while anti-inflammatory ingredients like sulfur can be very effective for treating these conditions, she urges the importance of knowing your specific condition—as acne and rosacea can sometimes look alike but act differently. “Rosacea is more characterized by central facial redness, bumps and pore prominence over the nose and center part of the face. It can be hard to tell, so if you are unclear, consult a dermatologist since acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide or retinol can at times worsen rosacea,” she says.
2. Blue light devices can help clear acne.
LED (light emitting diode) therapy is a form of low-level light energy that penetrates the skin to cause different reactions and target different issues, such as skin rejuvenation, repair of tissue and promotion of wound healing. The energy, especially the one coming from blue light, can also target bacteria and inflammation and stimulate collagen—all of these can be beneficial to those struggling with acne. The trick, according to Dr. Chiu, is to use it accordingly. “The key is to use as directed, depending on the product of choice. As a general note, more is not better, as you can irritate or even damage the skin with too much exposure in a short amount of time!”
3. Get post-partum acne under control with pregnancy-safe ingredients.
With the increase in hormones, pregnancy can sometimes wreak havoc on our skin. If you are experiencing acne post-baby, Dr. Chiu recommends looking for pregnancy-safe formulations made with alpha-hydroxy acid or other fruit acids—both ingredients can help slough off pore-clogging impurities that cause acne. “Your dermatologist can also prescribe some medication that has been shown safe to treat acne during this phase,” she adds.
4. Keep a food diary to see what’s causing those breakouts.
You’ve heard it time and time again that the food you eat might be the cause of your acne, but is this actually true? Per Dr. Chiu, “Studies have shown that foods with a high glycemic index or dairy can be triggers for a subset of patients affected by acne. I advise my acne patients to avoid higher glycemic foods, especially processed sugars.”
Out of these foods, dairy seems to be a popular culprit for breakouts. In order to see if breakouts are truly increased with dairy consumption, Dr. Chiu recommends keeping a food diary for two to three weeks. She goes on to say, “Though multiple studies have debunked the myth that greasy, fried foods or chocolate lead to breakouts, I am however a proponent for a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables as this generally leads to improved skin health.”
5. Dermarollers are safe to use on acne-prone skin.
We love dermarollers for their ability to build new collagen, but did you know that this treatment can also benefit acne-prone skin? It’s true! According to Dr. Chiu, “Using a dermaroller can help both active acne due to the mild exfoliative effects and can be helpful for acne scarring due to the neocollagenesis stimulation (the process by which the skin creates new collagen) that occurs.”
But before you get just any microneedle, Dr. Chiu emphasizes the importance of choosing a surgical-grade steel dermaroller so the needles don’t bend or warp with repeated use. “As for size, do not exceed 0.5mm and refrain from applying too much pressure,” she warns.
6. Consider taking supplements to treat acne.
We get it, not everyone is comfortable with light therapy or using a dermaroller on your face. If you’re looking for a more natural way to address acne, Dr. Chiu recommends looking into adding more nutrients, like nicotinamide (a form of vitamin B3 found in food) and zinc, into your diet, whether through the food that you eat or through supplements. Initial studies have shown that these nutrients may help decrease inflammation and signs of acne. Dr. Chiu notes, “The effectiveness depends on the individual and certainly may not be comparable to prescription treatments, but if you have mild acne, it is something to consider.”
7. Got a pimple the day before a big event? Visine may help.
If a sizeable blemish creeps up on you out of nowhere, don’t freak out! Instead, keep calm and apply a warm compress on the area to decrease inflammation. “I also recommend Visine and a drop of over-the-counter hydrocortisone to calm any signs of redness. Repeat this on the day of the event. If the pimple is deep and cystic, see if you can visit a dermatologist, who can perform a quick cortisone shot into the pimple to knock it down before the big day,” Dr. Chiu says.
8. Tackle acne scars with brightening and exfoliating ingredients.
Even though you are proactive in treating your acne, scarring can plague your skin long after a breakout has healed. To combat the aftereffects of acne, Dr. Chiu favors brightening ingredients like vitamin C or hydroquinone to help lift post-acne hyperpigmentation, as well as tried-and-true exfoliants like retinol and hydroxy acids. “Retinol and hydroxy acids promote exfoliation of the skin, which can lift post-acne marks,” she adds.