Clear skin is the pinnacle of both health and beauty -- but it's so hard to maintain the balance needed to keep those pores perfect. Luckily, there are plenty of products that can help. For every age, mood, hormone or weather fluctuation, you can change your routine. Give yourself a few weeks to see results, but if one thing fails, you're hardly out of options. Talk to your dermatologist if you have questions or need prescriptions.
Water is almost so obvious, it's not worth mentioning -- but that's why it is! Water emulsifies the makeup, residue, dirt and oil on your face, so the rest of your routine works the best it can. So, while water isn't exactly a product, it's a crucial part of helping your products work. Splash temperate water on your face for several seconds before washing, and rinse for a full minute when washing off soap or anything else.
Gentle alkaline soaps keep skin balanced and hydrated. Bar soaps with a high moisture content are good. Liquid cleansers, such as Cetaphil, go easy on your skin so other products can work without your skin becoming irritated from overloading products. Wash your face twice a day and anytime you work up a sweat.
Exfoliating is key to keeping your skin clear. Dead skin cells clog pores, leading to a dull complexion that's prone to blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. Scrubs that contain grains help your skin detach from the dead cells that get in the way of clear skin.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) is a chemical exfoliant. You can buy face washes and moisturizers containing AHA at almost all drugstores. AHA turns over the skin cells for a radiant glow and tighter pores that are less likely to clog.
Beta Hydroxy Acid
Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) is the cousin of AHA. It usually shows up in products that contain AHA, too, but you can also find it on its own in moisturizers for day or night. BHA can be good for people with sensitive skin or rosacea.
Salicylic acid cuts through oil and handles acne bacteria fast. It's available in face cleansers, moisturizers, acne masks or creams and as a spot treatment for pop-up pimples. It can leave skin red or irritated if you're new to it, so use it lightly at first.
Benzoyl peroxide kills zits fast. It can be harsh, though. Most products offer concentrations of either 2.5 or 10 percent. Go for the gentler formula. While you can find over-the-counter products, your dermatologist can prescribe it, too. Couple it with a good, light moisturizer to avoid scaliness.
Antibiotics are the realm of dermatologists, but they can help control breakouts for awhile. You'll build a tolerance to them, so start working on another routine at the same time. But these drugs can kill bacteria, slow its growth and reduce inflammation.
Retinoids are prescription vitamin-A derivatives. They unplug your pores so other medications can work quickly and effectively. Retinoids can be tough on your whole system -- doctors sometimes require that you go on birth control pills, because of the risk of birth defects on some types of retinoids -- but they clear your skin up so you look like an angel.
Sulfur stinks like rotten eggs, but it can clear your face up really well. It's available both over the counter and by prescription. Try it as a cleanser or a mask for whiteheads or blackheads.