The acne puzzle can be a hard one to figure out. One person’s miracle cure can exacerbate another’s breakout overnight. Thankfully, the puzzle pieces keep growing as newer solutions in the acne treatment toolbox are now available to try now. Whether it’s new FDA-approved topicals, trending devices or viral TikTok hacks, these are the latest acne fighters that are expert-approved.
There are a bevy of new prescription topical acne solutions on the market, but technically Altreno ($115) was here first. With an FDA-approval that came in 2018, it’s been gaining traction as an easy-to-tolerate topical that has the off-label side effect of providing glowy skin. “It’s a new formulation of tretinoin, which is a mainstay of professional acne treatment regimens, as well as photo aging,” says Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD. “This hydrating lotion combines tretinoin, which is a very powerful form of vitamin A, with hydrating ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid and natural collagen to improve acne and other signs of aging, while helping to keep skin properly moisturized.”
Another acne prescription drug making an impression on skin-care experts is Winlevi, which was just approved late last year. “It‘s the first acne drug with a new mechanism of action approved by the FDA since 1982,” explains Birmingham, AL dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD. It works by targeting the androgen receptor directly in the skin, he says. “The generic name is clascoterone and it is offered as a cream that inhibits the effects of hormones on oil production and inflammation. Previously, the only way to control oil production was through oral medications like spironolactone or isotretinoin.”
Also approved last year and new to the market is Twyneo, a a first-of-its-kind combination of tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide. “This is the first approved, prescription topical drug combination of benzoyl peroxide and retinoid that is microencapsulated,” says Montclair, NJ dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD. The microcapsules help stabilize the tretinoin from degradation caused by the benzoyl peroxide. “I am looking forward to this coming out and it should be fantastic for patients with skin that is a little more oily.”
Blue Light Therapy
Treating acne by targeting the bacteria that causes it— Propionibacterium acnes or P.acnes—think of blue light therapy as the deep cleaning team there to sanitize your skin. “Although it is impossible to get rid of all of the P. acnes, it is helpful to reduce their numbers to treat acne,” says Dr. Hartman. “One way to reduce P. acnes and clear up acne is with light therapy. Most commonly, dermatologists use certain red and blue wavelengths of ultraviolet light once a week or every other week. To really boost the effect of the light, sometimes it’s used in combination with a medicine called aminolevulinic acid, which sensitizes the skin and makes the light therapy more potent and effective.” Two at-home devices to try (which will provide lesser wavelengths than their in-office counterparts) are the Ominilux CLEAR ($395) light therapy mask and the Solawave Blue Light Wand ($119).
Hydrocolloid patches had a moment on TikTok last year, but they are nothing new says Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD. “It’s a standard treatment known in wound care, but these type of patches have been revamped,” she says. “Hydrocolloid is a very unique construct of an outer and inner layer to promote wound healing, the wound in this case being an inflamed acne cyst.” A covered wound will heal faster, better and with less scarring, she says. Sweet Chef’s Carrot Ginger Blemish Rescue Patch ($17) is antioxidant rich and contains salicylic acid, carrot and ginger to treat, smooth and resurface while pulling up all the excess oil and dirt you see on those viral videos.
Acne Body Washes and Mists
Acne body cleansers—and new acne-clearing mist formulations—reduce painful, unsightly body bumps by decreasing oiliness, reducing surface bacteria, and exfoliating skin. “Mild acne on the back and other parts of the body can benefit from cleansers and treatments with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid,” says Dr. Schlessinger. “For pimples on both the face and body, I recommend a simple, multitasking wash like LovelySkin LUXE Salicylic Face and Body Wash ($31). It uses 2% salicylic acid to dissolve the dirt and debris in pores, helping to prevent breakouts anywhere they pop up.”
“Some cleansers target oily skin, some target the bacteria that cause acne and some hydrate and moisturize,” adds Dr. Honet. “Others offer gentle exfoliation to help clear out clogged pores and reduce the appearance of large pores. For instance, Zitsticka Silkshake ($25) touts enhancing and restoring the microbiome and hydration of skin using antioxidants, glycerin, and omega fatty acids.”
Fading Creams and Gels
The after effects of acne breakouts are the dark spots, scars and pigmentation issues left behind when the pimple has disappeared. Dark spots appear when the skin produces too much melanin, and topical treatments that include acids, like the salicylic acid-based Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Mark Fading Gel ($68) or the tranexamic and azelaic acid-based Topicals Faded Serum for Dark Spots ($38), can help smooth post-acne skin and reduce discoloration.
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