Acne products for sensitive skin that I will buy again in a heartbeat

I didn’t get my first pimple until I was 25. It was a rude awakening as I thought only teenagers had acne, and I had managed to get through that part of my life without even a red bump on my face. It turns out, however, that adult acne is real and the worst: my skin, overall, has become more reactive to cosmetics, dust, and pet dander as I’ve aged. To alleviate my issues, I had to develop a more thoughtful skincare routine and as part of that, I needed to find acne products for sensitive skin that didn’t irritate my face.

For me, I only break out in the days before and during my period. Dealing with hormonal acne can be tricky, as some breakouts persist while other pimples disappear within a day or two. One of the first products my dermatologist recommended to me was Persa Gel 10, which was affordable and effective, but turned out to be too strong. (It dried out my skin and I noticed dark spots appearing after the acne subsided.) The gel contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, which I think was too harsh for me (compared to my favorite La-Roche Posay treatment, which contains 5.5% benzoyl peroxide and lasts much better on my skin).

“When trying to soothe pimples and acne, low-percentage retinols, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide are great, but you have to be extremely careful not to overuse them,” says Dr. Shereene Idriss, founder of Idriss Dermatology and the #PillowtalkDerm series. . “Try to include these ingredients in just one step of your skincare routine. For example, if you’re using a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment, make sure there’s no peroxide of benzoyl in your cleanser.

Dr. Idriss also pointed out that if you have sensitive skin and are trying to treat acne, avoid harsher products and ingredients that can cause further inflammation or breakouts if not used correctly, such as high percentage retinols. If you want to use a retinol, however, she recommends starting with a low concentration like 0.25%, then increasing the percentage little by little as needed to help build your skin’s tolerance.

While I probably won’t be experimenting with the aforementioned product anytime soon — I don’t think my skin needs it yet — I’ve tested other acne products, face washes, masks, and more. I learned, little by little, that a simplified beauty routine helped me keep my skin in check every time my monthly cycle rolled around. More is not always better.

“The more products a person uses, the more likely they are to disrupt the skin’s skin barrier function, alter pH, and disrupt the skin microbiome, all of which play a role in maintaining healthy, blemish-free skin. ‘imperfections,’ says Dr. Brendan Camp, MD.

When I have pimples, I immediately do a clay mask, then apply the aforementioned La Roche-Posay product in the evening and in the morning. If the pimple looks like it’s coming to a head, I stick a patch over it overnight (or during the day, if I’m working from home). To keep my skin hydrated on a daily basis, I use my CeraVe PM moisturizer and finally, if it’s daytime, I cover myself with a mild sunscreen. (I skip applying over any makeup like concealer or foundation during my breakouts.)

Also, I try to maintain a healthy diet and do lots of ZZZs (at least eight hours a day) in the week before my period. I’ve found that going to bed at 4 a.m. on the weekends, along with drinking and late-night McDonald’s, stresses my skin and makes it more acne-prone. “Recent studies have confirmed a new variant of acne linked to stress levels with lack of sleep as the main trigger. When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol which triggers acne breakouts,” says dermatologist Dr. Azadeh Shirazi.

I know my basic routine won’t work for everyone, as each individual has their own skin issues, but I’ve stuck with these habits for the past six months. And the result? My complexion is super clear and luminous. I still get a pimple here or there every couple of months, but the red bumps usually go away after a day or two with the treatment steps I mentioned above.

To shop for the exact acne products I use on my sensitive skin—as well as dermatologist recommendations—keep scrolling. These items are now my staples, and I will happily repurchase them all in a heartbeat.

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