In terms of appearance, nothing is more demoralising than acne. Glaringly red blemishes stare out at you from the mirror, tauntingly and upsettingly. Even worse, the field of anti-acne treatments is a minefield of confusing advice, conflicting schools of thought, and the condescension of people who have never had any skin problems.
I could go on for days about all the ways that I advise people to deal with it, and the ways I dealt with it as a teenager. Literally days. But to spare you all, I won’t open the floodgates. Instead, I will talk about my two most favourite products, which are applicable both to people with persistent problems and people with occasional breakouts. If you feel a breakout on the horizon, just go through the motions of these and they will do their best to shrink, minimise, and soothe. Nothing is a miracle, but I have found that if you find something that works, try to stick to it. The more you mess around with the products you use, in this case, the worse it gets.
First of all, we have the Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion. This is an extremely liquidy suspension, essentially of sodium sulphate in alcohol and water, together with some soothing ingredients so as to not completely freak your skin out. Shake it up, dab a little onto your spots with a clean finger, and let it dry. Overnight, it can halt the progress of advancing blemishes, or shrink existing ones. The alcohol dries out the skin, the sulphur in the sodium sulphate slightly exfoliates the skin, and both have antibacterial properties. The Buffering Lotion is marketed for cystic acne, but also achieves real results with all kinds of problems, blackheads, etc.
After a spot has cleared up, and the immediate swelling and redness is gone, there is still, almost always, a slightly dark mark, caused by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Unfortunately, this mark can stay around for weeks or even months until it fades. A great way to hurry up the process is the SVR Lysalpha Cicapeel Gel. Start applying this once the core spot is gone. This clear gel, which dries to a thin film, will reduce the appearance of these dark marks more rapidly than anything else I’ve found. I couldn’t claim to know what it does on age spots, but for post-acne marks, there is a noticeable difference after only about four days, if applied nightly (don’t apply moisturiser over the top, let it do its thing).
The way it works is a combination of Gluconolactone, an exfoliating AHA which is as non-irritant as AHAs get, and Zinc, to help heal and hydrate the skin. It also contains an extract of Wild Indigo, Tephrosia Purpurea, which is known to help heal skin eruptions.