The Next Generation of Acne-Fighting Skincare

The last thing anybody wants to wake up to is a new pimple or breakout, yet over 85 percent of adolescents and young adults suffer from acne according to a study from the Global Burden of Disease. In fact, the rising incidence of acne in late adolescence has become so prevalent that it is now deemed a global issue by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Whoa. 

Thankfully, cosmetic chemists, beauty companies, and dermatologists have been fiercely working away to find new, innovative ways to tackle acne and help us achieve clear skin for good. Read on to learn about the next generation of acne-fighting skincare products.

1) At-Home LED Light Treatments

LED, which stands for light emitting diode, therapy is a skincare treatment that harnesses different wavelengths of light to treat various skin conditions. The technology was originally developed by NASA for plant growth experiments, but scientists soon discovered that it had the potential to treat wounds as well. LEDs do not contain ultraviolet rays, so you won’t get a sunburn from it and can use it regularly. It’s also much gentler than more traditional acne treatments like chemical peels. 

In recent years, LED has become widely used by dermatologists and professional estheticians during in-office treatments for treating inflammation and acne. Thankfully, a handful of companies have developed LED devices that can be used at-home (and at a fraction of the cost.) Our favorite is Dr. Dennis Gross’s SpotLite Acne Treatment Device, an FDA-approved, tiny hand-held wand for spot-treating pesky, inflamed pimples. This device emits blue light, which penetrates beneath the skin’s surface to fight acne-causing bacteria, and red light to reduce redness and inflammation. With each treatment lasting only 3 minutes per breakout, you can fight acne while binging on your favorite Netflix show, a win-win in our book.  

Remember to always consult a doctor before trying out LED, and you should not use LED light therapy if you take Accutane or if you’re experiencing skin rashes.

2) Customized Products

It’s becoming common knowledge that oftentimes the most effective acne-fighting skincare routines are the most personalized ones. We each have a unique skin type, lifestyle, and medical history, all of which impact how our acne can best be treated.

These customized treatment plans tend to result from multiple dermatologist appointments, which unfortunately can be difficult to attain for college students, with our busy schedules, being away from home, and tight budgets.

Thankfully, Curology is here to the rescue. After taking a quiz and submitting photos, they pair you with your own dermatologist or physician assistant who personally develops an acne-fighting cream formulated with a unique mixture of ingredients based on your individual skin and acne type. Your personal provider sticks by you - you can chat with them anytime regarding your questions and concerns, and they can adjust your formula if you aren’t seeing results. With a one-month free trial and the option to include a clog-free cleanser and moisturizer with your shipment, Curology can’t be beat. 

3) Innovative Ingredients

Gone are the days of treating acne with only salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. There’s a new army of acne-fighting ingredients that are better than ever. 

Azelaic acid might sound scary, but it’s actually incredibly gentle – you can get it in concentrations up to 20% with a prescription. Used to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, redness, and rosacea (whew!), azelaic acid is an underground rockstar. It contains antibacterial properties, which makes it effective at fighting acne-causing bacteria, as well as helping to calm the skin and prevent inflammation. For over-the-counter versions, we love The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension, which contains 10% azelaic acid for less than $10. 

Niacinamide – funny name, fabulous ingredient. A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide is non-irritating compared to traditional acne treatments and can inhibit the production of oil to tackle acne at its source. It also minimizes pores, reduces blotchiness, treats hyperpigmentation (I’m looking at you post-acne dark spots), and protects against sun damage. You can find this stellar active in Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster– mix a few drops into your serum or moisturizer at night and be prepared for a flawless complexion.

Antioxidants have long been a “buzzy” word in the skincare world, but new studies reveal that they are also incredibly helpful at treating acne. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals before they cause skin damage. This is crucial because free radicals not only cause inflammation, but also increase the production of sebum, which can cause clogged pores and breakouts. Antioxidants have also been shown to have antibacterial properties, meaning they can kill the acne-causing p. acne bacteria.

The most effective forms of antioxidants include vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, resveratrol, and quercetin, and they should be incorporated into your morning skincare routine. Here at Her Campus NYU, we are obsessed with Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C Serum and Clinique’s Fresh Pressed 7-Day System with Pure Vitamin C.  

As always, patch test any new products on your inner arm for a couple days before applying them to your face and consult a doctor when adding new actives into your routine. 

Acne is most definitely an annoying and stressful skin condition, but this next generation of skincare innovations has the potential to help us all achieve a clear complexion. 

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