Acne Treatment for Women

When it comes to choosing makeup, the magic word is "noncomedogenic." This means a product will not cause comedones. Every facial product-concealer, foundation, powder and the like-should carry the "noncomedogenic" label. Otherwise, you risk clogging pores.

If you have combination skin, with areas of the face that tend to be dry, you may wish to consider using a moisturizer. Be sure to select one that is not oil-based. Many moisturizers are available today for acne-prone skin, so opt for one that has blemish-control features.

Check ingredient labels on cosmetics for the following chemicals, which can aggravate acne:

  • Lanolin
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Isopropyl myristate
  • Laureth-4
  • D&C red dyes

You can test your cosmetics for oiliness by placing a small amount on a piece of regular office-quality photocopy paper. Let it sit for 24 hours. Then check the paper to see if there is a ring around the area where you placed the product. Any oils will spread, so you will be able to determine how much oil is in a given product.

You may be tempted to buy a box of pore strips-Band-Aid-style strips that are applied to the nose, where blackheads tend to accumulate. Television and magazine advertisements love to show close-ups of the "gunk" that these strips supposedly pull out of the pores when they are removed. In reality, many experts believe that pore strips are a waste of money. They cannot get to the heart of a deeply plugged pore, and you are likely removing only surface tissue. In addition, if you use them and pull too roughly, you may irritate the skin and create a new set of problems (more pimples).

Relatively new on the market are oil-blotting tissues, which are thin, translucent strips of paper-like material that soak up oil without applying any type of chemical. They are a super-quick way to soak up an oil slick, but they won't prevent excess oil production. They're meant to maintain the face during the day, and they're a good solution to over-washing.

According to Paula Begoun, author of "The Beauty Bible" (Second Edition, Beginning Press, 2002), "there is nothing miraculous about these acne treatment for women products, nor do they work all that well." The main ingredient in these strips, she says, is a hair spray-type substance that sticks to the skin. They should never be used in areas outside of the nose, chin or forehead, nor should they be applied to skin that is red, sunburned, dry or swollen. Never use them if you have been applying a topical retinoid such as Retin-A, Renova, Differin or a glycolic acid. Never use them if you take Accutane. These drugs predispose the skin to tearing and injury.

One of the most frustrating aspects for patients who are plagued by blackheads and clogged pores is what happens after extractions and blackhead removal. You are left with an empty, enlarged pore that can quickly fill up with more oil or stubbornly refuse to close up and heal. Many over-the-counter products claim they will shrink pores, but the result is, at best, temporary. There really is no surefire topical way to shrink a pore. An empty and open pore may be permanently damaged, but all is not lost. Your dermatologist can perform microdermabrasion or an AHA/BHA peel, as well as laser resurfacing, to improve your overall appearance. Once again, the results may be temporary and the pore may look smaller. But the pore may simply be too damaged to heal properly. There are cosmetic products, in both liquid and powder form, that can be used to cover up enlarged pores. Be sure to use a product that does not contain oil and that will not clog the skin. The label will specify whether it is "noncomedogenic" and appropriate for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

Begoun recommends applying a tiny drop of Milk of Magnesia-a stomach antacid-to areas affected by enlarged, open pores. Dab it onto skin, under your foundation. She says it has a "spackle" effect, similar to closing up the hole that a nail leaves in a wall. The milk of magnesia absorbs oil, temporarily fills the pore and allows your foundation to glide over your skin, creating an even surface. Begoun recommends a matte foundation.


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