How to Get Rid of Acne: A Step-By-Step Tutorial
To get rid of acne, you have to understand what causes it in the first place. All in all, the formation of acne pimples a pretty complicated process that even scientists and dermatologists don't fully understand. What is known though, can be summed up in a fairly simple manner - Acne bacteria (p. acnes) get trapped inside a pore (hair follicle). The bacteria then feed upon the sebum (oil) trapped inside the pore, and multiply, causing an infection. The body spots this infection, and tries to protect itself from it, leading to inflammation, which makes for a huge, red, inflamed "spot".
Using this basic information, we can come up with three to-the-point ways to combat acne.
1.) Kill the bacteria. If there's no bacteria to cause an infection, then there will be no acne.
2.) Reduce the oil on the surface of the skin. Since oil can clog pores, and gives "fuel" for the bacteria to thrive off of, less oil means less acne.
3.) Stop the pore from getting clogged in the first place. If you can keep dead skin cells from clogging up a pore, you'll reduce the number of spots.
With that said, we'll move on to the basic regimen.
Step 1 - Washing your Face
In this step, we will be trying to accomplish two goals - Removing excess oil from the surface of the skin, and killing the bacteria on the skin.
To do this, we will need a gentle, non-comedogenic, non-irritating antibacterial cleanser. These are few and far between, and I have only found one cleanser that can do the job: Noxzema "Triple Clean" Cleanser. This is a gentle cleanser that contains an antibacterial ingredient called "triclosan".
First of all, splash your face once or twice with warm water. Then, squeeze about a dime sized amount of the cleanser into your hands. Work into a rich lather, and then apply to the face, being extra careful to be gentle. There is no need to scrub or rub it hard, as this will NOT help with acne, it will only make it worse. With that said, very gently, using no pressure at all, and only the tips of your fingers, rub it onto your skin for one minute straight. This is to make sure that all of the bacteria are killed off. Then rinse the cleanser from your face, and gently pat the skin dry with a clean towel.
Step 2 - Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl Peroxide is a very common over-the-counter acne treatment product. BP works by creating an oxygen rich environment within the skin, interrupting the metabolic process of the p. acnes bacteria, causing it to die off. It is also antiinflammatory, helping to reduce redness.
Avoid anything that is 10% BP, unless it won't be staying on your skin for long. Go for 5%, or better yet, 2.5%. The two products I recommend are Neutrogena's "on-the-spot" acne treatment cream, and Stridex's BP pads. Both contain 2.5% benzoyl peroxide.
No matter which product you choose, apply it gently to your skin after cleansing.
Step 3 - Salicylic Acid
Salicylic Acid is a beta hydroxy acid - meaning it is an exfoliant, and will help your skin to shed dead skin cells faster. This prevents the dead skin cells from forming a clog inside pores, trapping bacteria and leading to a pimple.
The salicylic acid product I recommend is Clean & Clear's "advantage" acne spot treatment. It is a sort of gel, that contains 2% salicylic acid. It goes on smooth, is invisible once it has dried, and stays on all day to provide protection against acne.
After the benzoyl peroxide has dried, gently apply the salicylic acid. I use about a quarter sized amount for my face, but if your skin isn't "used to it" yet, start with less.
And that's it! You're now protecting your skin from three major causes of acne, and hopefully your skin will begin to clear up!
This regimen is meant to be done twice per day - once in the morning, and again at night. Since both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are irritating to the skin at first, don't jump right in. Your skin has to get used to the products before you can use them to their fullest extent. Be patient, and at first, only apply benzoyl peroxide, and only apply it once per day. Then work up to twice per day. Once your skin is used to that, add in the salicylic acid slowly. Eventually, you should be using quite a bit of both products. Definitely remember to wear a sunscreen if you'll be venturing out into the sun.