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Adult Acne: Adding Red Light Therapy to Your Skincare Regimen Can Eliminate Acne and Heal Scars

If you suffer from adult acne, you’re probably fed up and looking to put an end to it. There’s hope. This daily regimen integrates dermatologist-recommended skincare products and red-light therapy to help eliminate acne and heal scars and rejuvenate your skin.


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What Causes Acne in Adults


If you suffer from adult acne, you’re probably fed up and looking to put an end to it. There’s hope.

I’ve had a dermatologist for my whole life, pretty much. I’ve got sensitive skin, rosacea and I’ve suffered from adult acne. Over the years I’ve tried pretty much every type of treatment that there is before landing on a regimen that works for me. If you also struggle with adult acne, you’re not alone. Adult acne is more common than you think, especially among women.


If you suffer from adult acne, it’s likely caused by one of the following factors:


  • Fluctuating hormones

  • Stress

  • Family history

  • Hair and skincare products


Rosacea can also cause acne-like symptoms. It’s important to talk to your dermatologist to understand what’s causing your acne.


Adult acne is a source of self-consciousness and scars. Unfortunately, acne scars start to become more visible as you age, because collagen and elastin production in your skin slows and the skin loses some of its natural tone and texture.


If you suffer from adult acne, you’re probably fed up and are looking to put an end to it. You may suffer from the odd breakout or maybe your acne is worse. Whatever your situation is, there’s hope.


Putting an End to Adult Acne


You can put an end to adult acne, help acne scars heal and actually rejuvenate your skin.

If your acne is bad, you should talk to a dermatologist about antibiotics or prescription medications (e.g. Accutane or medications that work on hormones). Dermatologists can also suggest topical treatments either available over-the-counter or prescription. They may also suggest procedures like laser or light therapy.


For mild to moderate acne, the combination of over-the-counter topicals, red-light therapy, and some lifestyle changes can be very effective, and can also improve overall skin health and promote rejuvenation.



Topicals


An effective anti-acne regimen should include a benzoyl peroxide (or salicylic acid) cleanser, a moisturizer, and possibly retinol.


Daily cleansing with an anti-acne topical is the base of an effective regimen for acne-prone skin. By far, the three most popular ingredients in over-the-counter topicals are benzoyl peroxide, retinol and salicylic acid. They’re popular because they can be really effective.


  • Benzoyl peroxide. Kills the bacteria that cause acne and helps remove excess oil and pore-clogging dead skin cells. More popular for acne on the face.

  • Retinol. Often associated with anti-aging, dermatologists often recommend the use of a topical retinoid in combination with benzoyl peroxide or as a standalone treatment.

  • Salicylic acid. Works best for blackheads and whiteheads and can also prevent future acne from forming. More popular for body acne.


An effective regimen should include a benzoyl peroxide (or salicylic acid) cleanser, a moisturizer, and possibly retinol. What works for someone else may not work for you, and you may need to try different combinations. Always start with low concentration, dermatologist-recommended products.


These two dermatologist-recommended, top-rated cleansers are our favorites.


  • Best Benzoyl peroxide. CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser is from the #1 dermatologist-recommended moisturizer brand for acne. This gentle 4% benzoyl peroxide face wash helps heal acne and maintain the skin’s barrier.


  • Best Salicylic acid. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash contains 2% salicylic acid, aloe, and chamomile. If benzoyl peroxide does not work for you, try this gentle top rated salicylic acid cleanser.


After nighttime cleansing, a high-quality night cream that restores moisture and reduces inflammation is a must.


  • Best Night Cream CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream tops dermatologists and skincare professionals lists because it hydrates and reduces redness and inflammation using gentle and effective ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.

You can check out our recommendations for daily moisturizers and retinols here.


You need to give any new regimen at least four weeks to show improvement. In the first two weeks, expect your skin to become irritated as the new regimen goes to work.


Red-Light Therapy


Red-light therapy is recognized as a safe, simple and inexpensive acne treatment along that has additive and synergistic effects when used in conjunction with topical treatments

Red-light therapy (RLT) works below the skin’s surface and has been shown to be effective to reduce acne-causing sebum production and inflammation. Dermatologists who studied red-light therapy for acne concluded that using red-light therapy along with topical treatments has additive and synergistic effects. They also concluded that RLT is an “effective, well-tolerated, safe, simple and inexpensive treatment option for moderate acne”.


Red-light therapy helps the skin in other ways as well. A number of studies have demonstrated the power of red-light therapy for reducing the appearance of scars. Light therapy is also effective for treating redness and acne-like breakouts associated with rosacea, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists.


Unlike traditional laser treatments and chemical peels that work by removing or injuring the top layer of the skin, because RLT works below the skin, it doesn't have the risks of complications, long recovery time, or long term negative effects.


Red-light therapy can be done in a clinic or at home. RLT is offered in some anti-aging and dermatology clinics, but the cost of regular sessions will add up quickly. Good red-light therapy devices are also available for home use. Prices range from less than $100 to $2000 or more for full-body devices. (see our recommendations here)


Lifestyle Changes


Dermatologists recommend staying out of the sun and wearing an SPF moisturizer every day.

Over the long run, sun exposure does not help with acne. According to dermatologists, being in the sun might initially help dry up surface acne and oils, but the effect is temporary. More often, exposure to the sun causes acne to flare up.


Dermatologists recommend staying out of the sun and wearing an SPF moisturizer every day. Finding a good daily SPF moisturizer for acne-prone skin is not easy.


This one really stands out from the crowd.



See our recommended daily moisturizers with SPF for all types of skin here.


The Bottom Line


Acne treatment does not work overnight. You need to give any new regimen at least four weeks to show improvement. Daily cleansing and moisturizing combined with red-light therapy and lifestyle changes can put an end to adult acne, heal acne scars, and actually rejuvenate your skin.


You should consult a dermatologist if nothing clears your acne and also before starting a new skincare regimen.



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