Topical OTC (over-the-counter) Routines for Acne

By Devi Chettiar, PA-C

When dealing with mild acne, a consistent and appropriate OTC skin care regimen can make a world of a difference.  I like to think of topical routines falling into two categories – simple (for those who want a basic, minimalistic skin care routine), and detailed (for those who are highly motivated and likely to consistently follow multiple steps).  Here is an example of each routine to try, but ultimately the type of acne you have may require prescription medication and the help of a dermatology specialist to curate the perfect routine.

Simple routine

AM:  

  1. Salicylic acid cleanser or gentle cleanser,
  2.  +/- toner or other leave-on acne treatment product (i.e. salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide spot treatment)
  3. Non-comedogenic sunscreen

PM: 

  1. Salicylic acid cleanser or gentle cleanser
  2. +/- toner
  3. Non-comedogenic moisturizer (lotion or cream)

Detailed routine

AM:  

  1. Salicylic acid cleanser or gentle cleanser
  2. +/- toner or other leave-on acne treatment product (i.e. salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide spot treatment)
  3. Non-comedogenic sunscreen with niacinamide

PM:

  1. Salicylic acid cleanser or gentle cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Adapalene 0.1% gel
  4. Non-comedogenic moisturizing cream

If you are committed to a detailed routine, make sure you aren’t forgetting products to use in the shower and after a workout. In the shower, add a benzoyl peroxide cleanser for the chest, shoulder, and back (as well as the face, if tolerable). If you are unable to shower immediately after a workout, wipe the face, chest, and back down with salicylic acid acne pads.

There are many awesome products available to help acne.  For specific recommendations on which products we recommend, please refer to our online shop and/or make an appointment to discuss options with one of our dermatology providers.


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