All your acne questions—answered by a skincare expert!
From why pimples exist at all (because...ugh) to how to prevent scarring, we've got the clean skin answers you need from a top expert you can trust, Dr. Hadley King, the consulting dermatologist for Acne Free.
Q: I have tons of acne, but my sister has clear skin. How is that possible?
A: As unfair as that may seem, that's how genetics work. Just as your sibling may be taller or shorter or have different eye or hair color from you, the acne-prone nature of your skin is also largely determined by genetics (and, as you know, different genes can be passed on to different siblings).
What's the best way to get rid of acne quickly?
Use acne-fighting ingredients to treat the acne and don't pick. Try treating with over-the-counter ingredients like adapalene, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. If these are not sufficient to control your acne, then see a dermatologist who can prescribe additional topical and systemic acne medications. Your dermo can also offer quick fixes like cortisone injections to decrease inflammation.
So I really can't pop my pimples?
Tempting as it is, say it with me, don't pick! Picking or squeezing a pimple increases the risk of inflammation and infection, prolongs the time to heal and increases chances of scarring and discoloration. Not a good look.
OK, I popped a zit. Does that mean it's definitely going to scar?
No, it doesn't. Trying to pop a pimple does increase the risk of scarring because it can increase inflammation, healing time and risk of infection, but it does not guarantee you'll have scarring.
Does what I eat make a difference? There's so much conflicting info online.
Acne is primarily caused by genetics and hormones. Stress and diet *can* affect hormones so they do play a part. Foods with a high glycemic index (like white bread) and dairy products may also contribute to acne in some people.
So what should you eat? Try sticking to vegetables and fruits, lean protein and healthy fats. Focus on foods that have a low glycemic index and are dairy-free—and see if this makes a difference in your breakouts.
Why do I break out when I get my period?
Peri-menstrual acne flares are common—about 60% of acne-prone women experience them. The most common pattern is for the flare to strike 7 to 10 days before the onset of your period, then subside once bleeding starts.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days—and each of these days is different hormonally. Estrogen is the dominant hormone during the first half of the cycle, and progesterone is the dominant hormone during the second half. Then, levels of both estrogen and progesterone fall to their lowest levels of the cycle as bleeding approaches.
The hormone testosterone stays at a fairly constant level throughout the cycle, so this means that relatively speaking, testosterone is higher compared to the other hormones before and after menstruation.
The mid-cycle rise in progesterone stimulates increased production of sebum, and higher relative testosterone level around menstruction also simulates more sebum production. The result is oily skin, clogged pores and inflammatory acne.
How can I feel better about my acne? I want to feel confident even without makeup.
Remember that acne is completely normal and not your fault. True beauty is on the inside and you are not defined by your acne. Feel empowered to treat and care for your acne. Although we don't have a cure for acne, we do have lots of effective treatment options to help control it. Knowing that you are doing what you can will also help boost your confidence.
What is adapelene? How is it different than other products I have tried?
Adapalene is a topical retinoid with proven efficacy and tolerability for the treatment of acne. It has been studied in numerous clinical trials that have demonstrated high efficacy and low risk of skin irriration.
Topical retinoids have a comedolytic effect, meaning that they help to prevent and treat clogged pores. This is because they increase the turnover of skin cells—and reduce the tendency of cells and keratin debris to clump together and clog up pores. They can also decrease the discoloration that can be left after a pimple. And because they increase the turnover of skin cells, this reduces the healing time for acne.
Adapalene is great for over-the-counter use because it has a decreased risk of irration compared to other prescription retinoids—and excellent efficacy for treating acne.