The fight against acne and breakouts is a constant struggle! There are so many remedies out there that it's hard to know which are legit. In part three of my skin tips series (check out part one on how to get that sexy glow and part two on the truth about beauty trends), I enlisted the advice of Dr. Daniel Behroozan, from the Dermatology Institute of Southern California, to guide us through how to treat mild to severe acne.

Q: What are the most common triggers of breakouts?

DR. BEHROOZAN: Acne is caused by hormonal aspects, clogged pores, and inflammation. Put those things together and you have this clinical scenario where you see pimples. Hormonal fluctuation in women during their period can make things worse. Stress can make things worse. For many years, there was a misconception that foods could make things worse. There is a subset of patients that can get acne flares with dairy-containing products. But for most people, food does not create an acne sensitivity.

Q: What is the best acne-fighting ingredient?

DB: When looking for over the counter products, you have ones that include salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, which are both excellent medications for the treatment of acne. Recently a prescription medication called Adapalene or Differin Gel became available over the counter. That is probably the most potent medication available over the counter.

Q: What's the best way to clear up acne fast?

DB: Pick up something with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide over the counter and just spot treat. You can also put a warm compress on your acne.

Q: What does a warm compress do?

DB: It can help relieve inflammation and soothe the area. Sometimes it can bring contents up to a head and release them. A warm compress can be something like a tea bag that you warm up and put gently on the area or a warm cloth. Just hold it there for a couple minutes.

Q: What's the best way to prevent acne?

DB: If you are trying to use over the counter products to minimize acne, there are simple things you can do. Wash your face with gentle cleanser twice a day. Moisturization of your skin is also very important. You have to start with those things before you start moving on to other things. When I talk about gentle moisturizers and cleansers, you can use something very simple like Cetephil, Cerave, Neutragena, and Aveno products.

Q: What’s the best way to fight redness in my skin?

DB: If you do have acne, use a sunscreen in advance. If you have red marks or brown marks, especially in ethnic skin, the sunscreen can help mitigate that more quickly.

Q: How can I prevent or minimize acne scarring?

DB:. The only way to prevent the scarring is to prevent the acne. Once you have acne scaring, really the only way to improve it is with either peels or lasers or micorneedling to improve the scar tissue.

Q: What's the best nighttime skin-care routine?

DB: Nighttime skin-care routine is moisturizer first and follow that with a cream that has a retinol or retin A in it. Retinol is found over the counter and can be irritating. Retin A is prescription and it is stronger than retinol. Use it over your moisturizer every other night. After a week or two, if it’s not irritating you, you can use it every night.


BenzoylPeroxide Wash



Dual Action Redness Relief



Behroozan Skin Care PM Retinol



CetaphilDaily Facial Moisturizer



CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion



Differin Acne Treatment Gel