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Summer Breakouts: A Strategy

Everybody's plagued by acne, and everybody thinks they're the only sufferer. It's by far the main reason people come into my office with a question. Men, women, old, young. Here's what I think actually helps:

1. A dermatologist. If my parents had taken me to one in eighth or ninth grade, my entire high school and college life could have been drastically improved. It's worth the money. A dermatologist can get you Accutane (harsh, and you have to sign all sorts of forms, but everyone I know who's ever gone on it has the clearest skin ever and has spent the rest of their days so grateful to not have the horrible acne they once did). Dermatologists can also prescribe Retin-A, which works for lesser cases (I fit in this category). They can give you peels, laser treatments, and injections, all of which work.

2. A regimen. I'm convinced that all the acne-guru products work to the degree they do because people get inspired and they actually cleanse and tone and treat their acne every day. The problem is, you have to keep doing it, every day, and once most people's skin clears up, they breathe a sigh of relief and think, Ah now I can quit! And a week later they're breaking out again, and they run out and buy a new regimen.

3. Compliance. I've just said this, but I mean it. Whatever you do, keep doing it, forever, long after your skin's clear. You don't cure acne; you just vigilantly, constantly, remove the bacteria that cause it. For that reason, pick a regimen with the fewest steps possible, so you're more likely to stick with it. Seventeen steps every night is a sure route to failure, not to mention wild expenditure.

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