Get Expert Advice on Acne

By Dr. Kristel Polder

Be Clear Bootcamp FAQ

La Roche-Posay partnered with Dr. Kristel Polder to answer your questions about acne. We’ve summarized some of the top questions answered by Dr. Polder for you here.

Oily skin due to hormones

Facebook User
I'm 34 and battle with acne. I think it's mainly because I have terribly oily skin! I would've thought that after my hysterectomy 4 years ago, that I wouldn't have acne or oily skin anymore. But now I'm in hormone replacement therapy. I still have the same problems. Can you tell me what I can do to get rid of the oil? I believe if I can solve that problem, it will cure the acne problem.

La Roche-Posay
Hi, thanks for the question! I would start with a medicated cleanser, such as the LRP Effaclar cleanser, and then tone the skin with a toner. Consider BB Blur because it absorbs oil. There are also other over-the-counter mattifying gels you could try. I would use a retinol or prescription retinoid at night, followed by a light moisturizer. The purpose of the moisturizer is to counteract some of the body's production of oil. If the skin dries too much, the body can overcompensate and overproduce oil. It sounds as if much of your oil problem may be related to hormones. There are prescription options which help oil production as well that you can discuss with your dermatologist. Lastly, oral isotretinoin also seems to have a lasting effect on oil glands/oil production, but that route is extreme and should be supervised by a board-certified dermatologist. - Dr. Polder

Brown spots and discoloration?

Facebook User
What are your recommendations for unsightly brown spots and discoloration?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, are you asking about brown spots and discoloration due to acne? I would recommend using a broad spectrum sunscreen as the key step in your daily regimen. To help cover discoloration, Effaclar BB Blur is a good choice. Glycolic Acid can also help with discoloration as it exfoliates the upper layers of skin. Effaclar Serum would be a good option. There are also peels and lasers that your dermatologist could recommend and that are efficacious to reduce discoloration. However I recommend avoiding procedures during the summertime because your skin can react and temporarily make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Also I tend to stay away from procedures for darker skin tones in the summer months as darker skin can actually react to procedures by increased discoloration. - Dr. Polder

Cystic acne vs. pimples?

Facebook User
What's the difference between cystic acne and pimples? What products would be good for this? How long would it take to clear up with La Roche-Posay products?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, Cystic lesions are different than pimples because they sit deeper into skin. Because they are deeper, they are also more painful and it takes more time to treat and reduce them. It is also harder for any treatment applied directly to the skin to penetrate deep enough to treat so for cystic acne, I would recommend an oral treatment rather than topical. For pimples however, over-the-counter acne treatments are effective. Effaclar Duo acne treatment would be a good choice to treat pimples. - Dr. Polder.

Cause of cystic acne?

Facebook User
What causes cystic acne?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, thanks for joining! Cystic acne manifests from inflammation deep within the follicle proliferated by clogged pores. In order to treat cystic acne, I recommend you visit a dermatologist for treatment. If it's an isolated cyst they may do a steroid injection into the cyst which can clear it within 24 hours. However, if it's persistent they may recommend oral therapy. - Dr. Polder.

Acne breakouts due to sugar?

Facebook User
How can I prevent/stop my acne breakouts? I love to eat a lot of cookies and cream candy bars. I don't have a lot of breakouts but sometimes they occur around my cycle.

La Roche-Posay
Hi, thank you for joining! High-sugar foods have been shown to promote acne, so changing your diet could help clear your skin. For hormonal breakouts, there are treatments that can help, but those require a prescription from your dermatologist or an OBGYN. If your breakouts are more periodic, you can also try using Effaclar DUO as a topical treatment. - Dr. Polder.

Sun sensitivity?

Facebook User
Do any of the products make me more sun sensitive?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, Prescription retinoids which are often used for acne treatment can make skin more sensitive to the sun. Similarly, retinol can also make skin more sun-sensitive. I always recommend using a broad spectrum sunscreen when under an acne treatment. Even though the Effaclar line of products doesn't contain retinol, I would recommend using a sunscreen still. Let me know if there are specific products you were wondering about. Thanks! - Dr. Polder.

Acne on my shoulders?

Facebook User
If I have acne breakouts on my shoulders, can I use the same products designed for the face?

La Roche-Posay
Yes absolutely. However be careful with Benzoyl Peroxide (which is in Effaclar Duo as in many other acne treatments) as it is known to cause bleaching on clothing. If used on the shoulders, allow a few minutes to absorb before getting dressed and ideally select white clothes and white sheets to prevent the bleaching. - Dr. Polder.

Acne and moisturizing?

Facebook User
I seem to breakout more when my skin is not properly moisturized. Why would this happen?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, thank you for joining! When you're not consistent with moisturizing your body can over-produce oil to compensate, creating a cycle that can cause blackheads and whiteheads, so following a routine is very important. In the morning you should cleanse, tone, moisturize and finish with sunscreen. At night, cleanse to remove the debris and oil from the day, then complete with a toner and moisturizer. - Dr. Polder

Acne and dry skin?

Facebook User
Hi! I was wondering, what causes acne if you have dry skin? And what is the best way to treat acne if you have dry skin?

La Roche-Posay
Hi - there are lots of factors that can lead to acne even if you have dry skin. For instance hormonal imbalance, inflammation etc... Acne is not necessarily linked to oily skin! The best way to treat acne when you have dry skin is to choose products designed to be hydrating and suitable for sensitive skin. The Effaclar Acne System is a good option as it is tested for sensitive skin, and the leave on treatment Effaclar Duo contains moisturizing agents. Adding a gentle moisturizer to your acne regimen can also be recommended. I would recommend La Roche-Posay's Toleriane moisturizers as a good option. - Dr. Polder.

Acne scars?

Facebook User
What's the best product recommended to use to get rid of acne scars on my face?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, thanks for submitting your question. When you say 'acne scars', do you mean discoloration that acne left behind or is it a depression? If it's the former, I recommend using products with retinol such as La Roche-Posay's Redermic R and adding sunscreen to your routine. If it's the latter, that will require prescription retinoid, collagen and/ or laser resurfacing or chemical peel. I hope this helps! - Dr. Polder.

Acne scars after treatment?

Facebook User
I am on my fifth month of Isotretinoin. My skin is finally clearing up but I'm left with a lot of scarring. What do you think is the best way to get rid of scars? They are mostly on my cheeks, and are mostly ice pic scars. Thanks!

La Roche-Posay
Hi, thanks for being with us today! While you're under acne prescription I would not recommend any procedure for scars as your skin may be further irritated by a procedure. However while you're under treatment, sun protection is very important so make sure to use broad spectrum sunscreen every morning. After your treatment you can consider Retinol as a good ingredient to help. La Roche-Posay carries a good sunscreen line called Anthelios. As for Retinol, you can try their Redermic R cream. About 6 months after the end your prescription treatment your dermatologist could also offer resurfacing laser or TCA peels to help reduce the appearance of scars. The technology is not perfect but it will make your skin better, just not exactly the way it used to be. Hope this helps! - Dr. Polder.

Hormonal acne and scars?

Facebook User
My skin has been breaking out since I was 16 and hasn't stopped yet. I have scarring now, and acne... is this hormonal acne? It is around my chin and neck.

La Roche-Posay
Hi, Thanks for joining! Usually acne on the chin and neck would suggest a hormonal cause. However, if you are seeing scars from acne, it is important that you visit a dermatologist because prescription medication could be required. If it's truly hormonal, your OBGYN can also prescribe you mediation that could help. - Dr. Polder.

Scars and dark spots?

Facebook User
Hi, I cannot seem to get my skin clear of breakouts and as a result I have acne scars/dark spots on my face. I have spent so much on different products and nothing seems to work. I had great skin in my teens and now as an adult it seems like I am breaking out like a teenager! Plus at my age I also have to take care of wrinkles. What AM and PM routine and what foundation would work best for my type of skin (combination)? Please help and thank you in advance!

La Roche-Posay
Hello! Thanks for your question. AM and PM, I recommend you use a cleanser specifically formulated for oily skin or for acne. Within the La Roche-Posay Effaclar products I would recommend the Purifying Foaming Gel or the Medicated Gel Cleanser if you prefer an acne-medicated option. For foundation make sure to also choose one made specifically for oily-skin. Look for non-comedogenic formulas to avoid worsening your acne. I personally love the Effaclar BB Blur. It helps cover imperfections and is great for combination and oily skin. As for wrinkles, salicylic acid and glycolic acid are good choices for the morning - they help smooth skin and visibly reduce lines, while also helping with combination skin. Effaclar Serum could be a good option for your morning routine! Make sure to wear SPF daily too. For night I would recommend a Retinol containing product, like La Roche-Posay's Redermic R. Hope this answers your question. - Dr. Polder.

Acne marks and uneven skin tone?

Facebook User
Dr. Polder, my biggest issue is with acne marks and uneven skin tone. I have combination skin (very oily in the t-zone area). I was wondering if you have any advice on how to combat acne/dark spots and even out my skin tone. Plus, what would a good nighttime skin care routine consist of? Thank you!

La Roche-Posay
Hi! Thanks for your question. The most important step is going to be sun protection. I recommend using broad spectrum SPF30 or higher, daily. For acne and oiliness, look for products that have salicylic acid and/or glycolic acid. Within the La Roche-Posay line I would recommend AM: wash with Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser, Tone with Effaclar Clarifying Solution and protect with Anthelios AOX. PM: use the same wash, same toner and use Effaclar Serum after toning. This would be a good routine based on what you described. I would also recommend you consult your dermatologist. According to the severity of your acne and dark spots they can also recommend prescription-grade treatments. Hope this answers your question! - Dr. Polder.

Is oral isotretinoin safe?

Facebook User
Is oral isotretinoin a safe option? I hear mixed things. I have EXTREMELY oily skin and I have been battling acne for years. And what can I do to help with my acne and my pink/red spots that are left over from it?

La Roche-Posay
Hi - when under the guidance of a board certified dermatologist, prescription oral isotretinoin is a safe option. It requires monthly follow-ups with your dermatologist to conduct tests to ensure the treatment is going properly. For visible dark spots that can be left over from acne, I recommend using products with retinol such as La Roche-Posay's Redermic R and adding sunscreen to your routine. - Dr. Polder.

Androgen hormones and acne?

Facebook User
Can you provide more information on the role of androgen hormones and acne? I've read there's a correlation. Thanks!

La Roche-Posay
Hi - and thanks for your question! There is indeed a correlation between androgen hormone changes throughout life and acne, more specifically cystic acne. There are many times in a woman's life where the androgen hormone balances shift (like puberty, pregnancy, menopause etc...) that can lead to the appearance of acne. There are specific anti-androgen prescription treatments that work very well for this type of acne. I would recommend you visit your local dermatologist if you think your acne is related to hormones as the treatment requires a prescription. - Dr. Polder.

The effects of methamphetamine and acne?

Facebook User
Dr. Polder. How does methamphetamine use affect your face and what can you do to stop the breakouts and scarring?

La Roche-Posay
Hi - welcome to the chat. Methamphetamine use has been shown to be linked to many skin conditions, including acne. Many patients who are on a chronic Methamphetamine treatment, prescribed by a doctor, have difficulty adhering to a skin care regimen due to these issues. Some Methamphetamine patients have been shown to pick at the skin, so being careful not to pick at any acne lesions that develop is very important. Effaclar DUO can help while you are undergoing treatment, but if you have scarring post treatment, I would recommend seeing a doctor for laser resurfacing or a series of chemical peels. - Dr. Polder

Crohn's disease and acne?

Facebook User
I have Crohn's. My acne has gotten a lot worse. My t-zone is constantly oily and I have big pores on my nose. But the rest of my face can still get dry. I also have bags underneath my eyes and a lot of dark acne spots and red spots.

La Roche-Posay
Hi, thanks for your question. I recommend using medicated cleanser and toner every day. For your morning routine, try Effaclar Mat oil-free mattifying moisturizer after a toner, and make sure you wear sunscreen. For your night routine, I recommend Effaclar Duo, which has Benzoyl Peroxide, after a toner. In regards to your dark and red spots, try Effaclar BB Blur, which visibly blurs the look of pores and covers blemishes. If you are still bothered by discoloration after 4 weeks of regimen, you should see a dermatologist for an in-depth evaluation. I hope this helps! - Dr. Polder

What makes acne worse?

Facebook User
What are the factors that can make acne worse?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, there are a lot of factors that can make acne worse. There can be a mechanical component to acne especially in athletes - for instance football players get acne under where their helmet rests. Diet can also worsen acne. Studies show that dairy or high sugar diets are linked to worsening of acne. - Dr. Polder.

Small bumps on face?

Facebook User
I have small bumps on several areas of my face. I don't think that most people notice them, but it bothers me that they are there. What can I do to reduce and/or eliminate them?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, to properly evaluate what is causing the bumps, we recommend that you visit your local board-certified dermatologist. There are many benign lesions that can be easily treated in a dermatologist office with minimal discomfort. You can find a local board-certified dermatologist by visiting aad.org - Dr. Polder.

Combination skin and brown spots?

Facebook User
I have combo skin. I have issues on my t-zone especially on the nose and under my chin, but I have dry skin on my cheeks. The nose area gets really oily and the pores get so congested that sometimes they turn into pimples. Sometimes it even turns into blackhead or whiteheads. Is there product(s) that I can use that would clear up the problem area without making my non-oily area dry? In addition, I'm starting to notice a lot of brown spots on my cheekbone area and there is a white spot near the bottom of my face - are those normal?

La Roche-Posay
Hi - for brown and white spots, this can be caused by many different factors and would need a live consultation. I recommend you consult your local dermatologist for these. For blackheads and whiteheads I would recommend using an acne-medicated cleanser daily. The best way to manage combination skin is to use different products on your cheeks and on your T-Zone. I would recommend choosing salicylic acid and/or glycolic acid for your T-Zone. This will help with large pores. Effaclar Serum from La Roche-Posay is a good option! For your cheeks choose a moisturizer formulated for oily skin. It will keep your skin hydrated while being light enough for your skin type. I would recommend Effaclar MAT. Your dermatologist can also offer a facial or a light chemical peel - this type of procedure will help reduce pore size and acne. There are newer facial techniques now available that have shown great results! - Dr. Polder.

Acne at 26?

Facebook User
I'm 26 years old and I still have acne problems. I eat healthy most of the time and I have a daily routine of cleaning and moisturizing my skin. If I spend only one night without cleaning my face before I go to bed, there it goes, acne shows up on my face by the next morning. I really don't know any more what to do. I need help.

La Roche-Posay
Hi - acne affects all age groups and we see more and more adult patients with acne. You might want to consider adding additional steps in your regimen that can help gently exfoliate like a Retinol cream or a Glycolic Acid serum. I would recommend La Roche-Posay's Redermic R for Retinol or Effaclar Serum for Glycolic Acid. These products contain ingredients that have anti-aging properties. Also I would recommend visiting your local dermatologist. There are oral prescriptions that work great for adult acne and can supplement your regimen. - Dr. Polder.

Acne at 40?

Facebook User
Hello! At my age 40 I have occasional acne and oil in the T zone of my face. Which product is right for me?

La Roche-Posay
Hi - it is not unusual for women in their 40s to get acne. I get plenty of older patients that come in for acne treatments. I recommend La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Medicated Cleanser, which contains Salicylic Acid that targets excess oil, pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. For your occasional acne breakouts, use Effaclar Duo in the morning as a spot treatment. It has Benzoyl Peroxide and micro-exfoliating Lipo-Hydroxy Acid. If you want to take an extra skincare step, try Effaclar Serum on full face at night to refine pores and smooth skin. Hope this helps! - Dr. Polder.

My sons are starting to experience acne?

Facebook User
I have two sons who are experiencing problems with acne; do you recommend your products for them? If so, which ones?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, thanks for joining! There are many types of acne, if theirs is severe they should visit a board certified dermatologist who can evaluate and recommend a treatment. However, if their acne is mild or moderate, they can start with an OTC regimen, such as the Effaclar Dermatological Kit, which cleanses, tones and treats acne. - Dr. Polder.

Back acne?

Facebook User
My daughter is 16 and she has acne mostly on her back, but a few on her face. How do you treat back acne?

La Roche-Posay
Hello. I usually recommend the same products for face and for back so an acne wash and an acne toner would be good solutions for back acne as well. I also recommend Benzoyl Peroxide treatments for the back but be aware that due to the nature of this ingredient there is a risk of bleaching on clothing or sheets - so if you use Benzoyl Peroxide, choose white clothes and sheets to avoid the potential bleaching. Within the La Roche-Posay product range the Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser and the Clarifying Solution would be a great start. If acne persists, you can also use Effaclar Duo treatment - this one has Benzoyl Peroxide. And because back acne is sometimes the sign of a more severe type of acne, make sure to take your daughter to a dermatologist for a complete diagnosis as oral medication might be necessary! - Dr. Polder.

Acne on nose and cheeks?

Facebook User
I have the worst issue with acne near my nose on my cheeks, what is the root cause of this and how do I defeat it? And also scarring, what is the best method to get rid of that?

La Roche-Posay
Hi - the nose area is a classic location for acne. This is usually where blackheads and whiteheads start and can lead to the appearance of inflammatory acne. There isn't one specific root cause - acne in general is multi-factorial: hormones, oil production, inflammation, and lifestyle are all factors that can lead to acne. Because it is multi-factorial, we always recommend using a regimen combining multiple ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid as each targets a different cause. Start with a medicated cleanser like the Effaclar Medicated Cleanser (Salicylic Acid + Lipo-Hydroxy acid). If that's not enough, I would recommend building on a full routine like the Effaclar Acne System that contains not only the cleanser but a toner and a leave-on treatment that contain complementary ingredients. As for scars, do you mean discoloration that acne left behind or is it a depression? If it's the former, I recommend using products with retinol such as La Roche-Posay's Redermic R and adding sunscreen to your routine. If it's the latter, that will require prescription retinoid or a collagen boosting procedure like laser resurfacing or chemical peel. I hope this helps! - Dr. Polder.

Are OTC's effective?

Facebook User
Are non-prescriptive or over the counter acne medications effective?

La Roche-Posay
Hi! Thank you for joining today. Over-the-counter or OTC medications are effective when used consistently, however, if after 4 to 6 weeks your condition is not getting better you should visit a board-certified dermatologist to determine if other factors can be evaluated. The main ingredients in OTC products that treat acne are Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide. - Dr. Polder.

Why use Effaclar?

Facebook User
How does Effaclar stand apart from other over-the-counter acne products?

La Roche-Posay
Effaclar Duo has some specific ingredients, such as micronized Benzoyl Peroxide and micro-exfoliating Lipo-Hydroxy Acid, which are proven to be effective on acne but are gentle on skin. - Dr. Polder.

When to use sunscreen?

Facebook User
Are you supposed to apply sunscreen (Anthelios) underneath the Effaclar BB Blur?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, Yes you can apply a sunscreen under Effaclar BB Blur. In that case choose a very light texture that absorbs quickly into skin so it's then even easier to apply Effaclar. If you use Anthelios, the Anthelios 60 Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid is a good option! - Dr. Polder.

Using Serozinc?

Facebook User
Does the SEROZINC face mist help with acne?

La Roche-Posay
Hi, I know Serozinc is used a lot in Europe for oily and acne-prone skin but I have to say this is a newer product here in the US and I have not used it yet so I am not too familiar with it! - Dr. Polder.