Acne treatments can be highly effective, but most don't work overnight. Here's when you can expect your products to kick in.
Whether you're 15 or 50, a breakout can ruin your day. Acne treatments can and do work, so don't allow your breakout to send you into a tailspin of hopelessness. The key is to find the treatment that works for your skin type while addressing the underlying cause of your acne.
Acne Treatments: Choosing the Right Formula for Your Needs
If you've tried acne treatments before and gotten no results, you may simply have selected the wrong product for your skin type. Before trying again, ask yourself:
- What is my skin type? Oily skin is the most vulnerable to breakouts, especially blackheads. A product that removes excess oil, such as Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser, can work wonders. If you have dry or combination skin, use a daily moisturiser and exfoliate at least twice weekly to keep flakes from blocking your pores.
- How severe is the breakout? If you have a few pimples or blackheads, try applying Dermalogica Concealing Spot Treatment to affected areas only. If you have many pimples or cystic acne, you'll need to be more diligent. Cleanse at least twice daily, exfoliate twice weekly, and apply a salicylic or glycolic acid treatment before bed. Moisturise in the morning to prevent excess dryness.
- Are lifestyle factors contributing to my breakout? It's a myth that unhealthy foods and exercise cause acne, but some lifestyle factors can worsen a breakout. If you sleep in your makeup or sunscreen, apply oily products to your skin, or pick at your breakouts, you're impeding the effectiveness of your products.
How Long Must I Wait?
The makeup you use can also play a role, so if you're having a particularly severe breakout, consider a cosmetic-free day. If that's not an option, use a skin-friendly formulation, such as Dr. Hauschka Foundation.
In general, you should expect to see an improvement in 24 to 48 hours. Your breakout should be substantially diminished in three to four days and completely gone within a week.
If you're still struggling after seven days, consider talking to a dermatologist. Your acne may be caused by a hormonal imbalance, or you might be using the wrong products.
Acne Treatments: Why Less Is Sometimes More
If your skin is red and inflamed, you've got a big event coming up, or you're sick of endlessly fighting breakouts, you might be willing to try anything—however ill-advised—to get your skin back into shape.
Some people take matters into their own hands by using multiple products. Others double up on the dose of their favourite product or apply it multiple times each day. But overzealousness is a recipe for skin mayhem.
If you use more than the recommended dosage of any product, you can dry your skin, creating a flaky mess that actually worsens the breakout. You could even suffer an allergic reaction or develop a painful rash. Stick to the directions listed on the product, and avoid using more than two to three products at a time.
What About Prescription and Systemic Acne Treatments?
If your skin doesn't respond well to the usual acne treatments, your doctor might recommend a prescription medication instead. These products typically take a bit longer to work, since they address the underlying cause of the acne.
But for people with health or skin issues that prove intractable to the usual products, prescription remedies can work wonders. Be sure to give your doctor a complete overview of your symptoms, and ask about any topical products—including medicated cosmetics—that you're using.
If you haven't seen results within a month, or if you develop new symptoms—such as itching, redness, severe sunburns, or a burning sensation—tell your doctor immediately. Sometimes it's necessary to tweak the dosage, combine your treatment with another drug, or switch to a new medication.