Everyone wants gorgeous, glowing, clear skin, but that isn’t always in the cards thanks to monthy cycles, stress, and other things out of your control. Thankfully, Dr. David Colbert, M.D., a board certified cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Colbert, M.D. Skincare and New York Dermatology Group in NYC, is here to tell you how to eradicate unsightly breakouts from head to toe.
On your scalp: “Your scalp skin is an extension of your facial skin, so if you’re noticing red bumps near your hairline or on your scalp, use an antibacterial shampoo like Selsun Blue, which has one percent selenium sulfide, to help dry up any blemishes,” Colbert says. “You can also use Neutrogena T-Gel, which has two percent natural coal tar, an anti-inflammatory that helps calm redness.”
On your face: “If the acne you have is mild (breakouts from your period or stress), use an over-the-counter two percent salicylic acid wash three times a week in tandem with a spot treatment product,” he says. “Then, you’re going to want to balance the drying effects of those products with a cleanser that’ll calm and hydrate your skin, because if you over-attack your acne with drying ingredients it will just react more, causing new breakouts. So, it’s good to use a calming cleanser on the days you don’t use the salicylic acid wash to even out your skin’s hydration levels.” Try Colbert M.D.’s Balance Purifying Cleanser, which has retinol in it, so it both helps with anti-aging and is gentle enough to be used on skin that’s prone to breaking out. Plus, it has allantoin, which is an anti-irritant, and soothing bisabolol, which naturally occurs in chamomile.
“Once you’ve washed your face, apply a gel serum with glycolic acid to gently and chemically exfoliate your pores from the inside, keeping them from becoming clogged,” Colbert says. “If your skin needs extra hydration and you don’t have bad acne, you can use an oil on top of the serum to help replenish dry skin.” (If you’re oilier or are prone to breakouts, Colbert suggests spot treating your trouble areas with a two percent benzoyl peroxide product to avoid over drying before applying a moisturizing serum.)
Next, Colbert says to chemically exfoliate your skin using a textured pad infused with lactic acid to help slough away dead skin cells and clear out your pores. That way the existing dirt and bacteria — which everyone has on their skin — has nothing to mix and brew with to create a new blemish. He recommends his Intensify Facial Discs made with tiny silk fibers, glucosamine, and lactic acid. “Use them twice a week at night on your neck, back, face, and hands, since they also help with anti-aging,” he says.
On your body: “If you just have a breakout here and there on your back, neck, chest, or buttocks, pick up a tube of Bacitracin, an OTC triple antibiotic that can help eliminate body acne.” Colbert says. “It’s also a good idea to wash your body with Hibicleanse or Dial soap — any antibacterial cleanser — twice a week if you’re prone to body acne. To help prevent future body breakouts, you can also swipe any acne-prone areas with a cleansing wipe before you workout to keep sweat from mixing with the dirt and bacteria on your skin, which can lead to more breakouts.”
If your problem persists beyond a month or two, see your dermatologist, who might prescribe you the following: a topical cream, such as Epiduo, Aczone, or Retin A, or, an oral antibiotic, like Zithromax, Doryx, Bactrim (a antibiotic sulfur pill that works well for bad acne), or Accutane, a vitamin A derivative that helps exfoliate the pores from within, so they don’t have the chance to develop acne pustules. “If you have hormonal acne,” Colbert says, “your dermatologist might also prescribe you Spironolactone, which is a diuretic that is anti-hormonal, in addition to taking birth control pills.”