Acne is something that plagues a lot of us–Anna suffers from teenage acne and even I, at the ripe old age of 25, have suffered from the joys of hormonal acne. It’s a tricky thing to deal with, it’s often resistant to treatment and can flare up at a moment’s notice thanks to lack of sleep, hormones, drinking–even just every day life.

You already know dermatologist Dr. Sheetal Sapra from our post on skincare for aging skin, and he’s back to answer all of our questions about acne-prone skin. He is a dermatologist that specializes in cosmetic dermatology and is constantly seeking out new methods and technologies for treating his patients’ skin.

How do you feel about the Clarisonic?

I am definitely a big fan of the Clarisonic. Whether plagued with acne, dry skin, oily skin or even normal skin, almost everyone benefits from this addition to their cleansing regime. Many people can be impatient when it comes to getting results from their skincare; but Clarisonic is a great addition because you’re instantly going to see that glow that everyone is looking for.

What is the best way to treat teenage acne?

Acne is a hormonal genetic disease which in result plugs in the skin and an increase in the size of the oil glands. I always recommend a good cleansing regime with an active acne cleanser that isn’t going to dry out the skin. I also recommend using the cleanser with a Clarisonic. We have had excellent results in terms of better penetration of products, enhanced exfoliation and the unclogging of pores. Topical anti-acne products should be used that contain ingredients such as Vitamin A, benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid. Prescription therapies may also be suggested.

How can acne around the hairline be prevented?

A proper cleaning routine is important, which may include the use of a Clarisonic. It’s important to reduce the amount of irritation and friction on this area caused by helmets and hats. Also, try to keep your hair products off the skin along your hairline; because unless they’re non-comedogenic they could clog pores and lead to breakouts.

What is the best way to treat hormonal acne?

The first step for most females is starting on birth control pills. For both males and females, systemic antibiotics, topical therapies including effective skincare and Accutane may also be suggested.

What is the best way to treat/prevent body acne?

Body acne can be difficult to treat as it doesn’t respond to many types of treatment. Some topicals like benzoyl peroxide can be used, as well as systemic therapy, Accutane and/or antibiotics. Just like the face, a proper cleansing regime is needed for the body as well. I will often recommend the Clarisonic PRO with the body attachment to deep clean these hard to reach areas. In terms of skincare, one of the most effective products I have found is the Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque for these hard to treat areas.

In terms of prevention, try to cleanse with a gentle cleanser after sports or exercise and let the area breathe as much as possible instead of covering it with clothing.

What is the best way to treat cystic pimples?

Accutane is one of the most effective therapies for these types of breakouts.

What is the best way to remove/reduce blackheads and whiteheads?

A combination of Clarisonic and Vitamin A is one of the best treatments for clogged pores. In terms of treatment, Smoothbeam is an excellent laser to reduce these types of blemishes.

What ingredients should we be looking for in acne-fighting products?

Some of the most effective ingredients are benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and Vitamin A.

What is the best way to reduce redness?

Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial skincare products are some of the most effective products for treating redness. Whether caused by acne or rosacea, products such as the Vivier Redness Relief Kit contain Hexamidine which kill the mites on the surface of the skin that can contribute to irritation and redness. The Cynergy and VBeam lasers are extremely effective at treating redness caused by acne, scarring after the acne has cleared and rosacea.

How can oil be controlled on extremely oily skin?

Oiliness can be difficult to treat since stripping or over-drying of the skin can contribute to increased oil production. Topical skincare products such as Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Mask can be used to absorb excess oil; however, this will need to be repeated 1-3 times weekly to maintain results. A powdered salicylic acid such as Colorescience Let Me Be Clear is also a great way to keep oil at bay. In terms of treatments, Smoothbeam laser can be used to reduce the amount of sebum production.

What products do you recommend for combination skin?

Start with a gentle foaming cleanser that will absorb excess oil but not strip any areas of dryness. Secondly, most active products, especially topical antioxidants like Vitamin C can be used on both dry and oily skin so be sure to use this on the full face. Lastly, find a lightweight moisturizer with sunscreen that will moisturize the areas of dryness but not contribute to excess oil on the skin. If the areas of oiliness are particularly bothersome, a mask such as the Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Mask can be used only on the areas of concern.

What is the best way to clean your face well without stripping it of oil?

Many people like the feel of a foaming cleanser that will remove excess oil and makeup. Luckily, there are so many excellent cleansers that will foam up nicely to rid your skin of pore-clogging bacteria, without ingredients such as alcohol which may cause excessive stripping of the skin for normal/dry skinned patients. The Clarisonic is also a positive addition to any cleansing regime as it will remove dirt and bacteria without stripping the skin of natural oil. Unlike some other similar technologies, it’s gentle enough for even sensitive skin.

How often should you exfoliate?

If you’re using a manual sonic-cleansing system like Clarisonic it can be used every day for most people. I find this to be one of the best ways to give a healthy, clean, fresh, glow to the skin. Depending on your skin-type and the percentage of active ingredients, chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid or Vitamin A can be used anywhere from 2-5 days a week. If it is a safe physical exfoliant (something with round, gentle beads) it can be used approximately 1-3 times a week.

How often should you switch your products? Is it true that they should be switched every few months because your face gets used to them and they stop working?

I often recommend switching up your products seasonally to accommodate the natural changes in your skin due to the changes in the environment, especially between the summer and the winter months. Switching your products every 6 months or so ensures that your skin “remains on its toes” so to speak. I don’t feel that the products will ever stop working, but you may not see the same outstanding results you saw at the beginning.


Thanks again to the wonderful Dr. Sapra for taking the time to answer our many questions!


Image source: Vogue Italia

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