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By Cynthia Bailey MD.

Testosterone can drive acne and ramp-up oil gland activity.

This means that men often struggle with acne, clogged pores and oily skin. For some men, it can be a lifelong skin problem.

The good news is that most men outgrow the acne-prone part of the skin problem after adolescence. It’s still important for men to build the right skin care routine that controls skin oil and clogged pores, and that feels good on a man’s more sebaceous skin.

Find my powerful non-prescription acne treatment skin care routines that I've developed for my male dermatology patients.

The routines are efficient, multitasking and have a light weight feel of the skin. I use targeted skin care steps to fight acne. 

Know that my Dr. Complete Skin Care Routine gets the best results and involves 4 essential skin care steps, Cleanse, Correct, Hydrate and Protect. Some products will work for more than one step. For example, medicated cleanser will both cleanse and correct, sunscreen may both hydrate and protect!

CLEANSE (with medicated cleansers you can multi-task and Correct acne too): To control acne and clogged pores be sure your skin cleanser reaches deep into your pores. 

  • Salicylic acid is the best ingredient for deep pore penetration. It is a beta hydroxy acid that has a special ability to penetrate through oil and debris in clogged pores to break up and clean away blockages. My Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser  has a full 2% salicylic acid, the highest allowed concentration of this medicated ingredient. Glycolic acid also helps break up clogged pores and blackheads.
  • Use it once or twice a day to cleanse and treat acne.
  • If you wet shave, use the Daily Foaming Facial Cleanser when you shave; alternate it with the Acne Cleanser when you don’t shave. The Daily Foaming Cleanser has the perfect foaming slide for shaving and let’s you avoid the fragrance, chemicals and potentially pore-clogging ingredients in shaving creams.
  • Use a cleanser with pyrithione zinc for Pityrosporum folliculitis type acne or if you also have facial seborrhea.
    • If you struggle with the type of acne that has itchy bright red pimples along the hairline, in the beard and the sides of the neck you may have Pityrosporum folliculitis.
    • If you have flakes and redness along your brows and nose or in your beard or mustache you may have seborrheic dermatitis along with acne.
    • Consider washing with Foaming Zinc Cleanser  (best for oily and hairy skin) or Calming Zinc ™ Soap (made in a hydrating natural soap base for sensitive skin). These two cleansers are made with a full 2% pyrithione zinc that fight the Pityrosporum yeast which plays a role in both Pityrosporum folliculitis and facial seborrhea - you cover 2 skin problems with one cleansing step.
  • If you struggle with cystic acne vulgaris wash with Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cleanser ™. This is made with the maximum allowed 10% benzoyl peroxide to fight the acne causing germ C. acnes. (FYI, the medicated benzoyl peroxide in this cleanser stays behind on your skin after rinsing and will bleach fabric.)

CORRECT: Even if you use a medicated cleanser you may want a leave-on acne product to help fight acne, and prevent acne scarring and hyperpigmentation. Acne correcting products go on freshly cleansed skin. Acne treatment products can sting, especially after you shave, so timing can be a tricky issue for men. See how your skin does.

  • If you have blackheads and clogged pores, consider my Acne Treatment Pads  with salicylic acid and glycolic acid. If your skin is less oily, consider using glycolic acid alone as a cleanser and a cream that will also hydrate your skin. Glycolic acid helps reduce the signs of skin aging while also helping unclog pores and fight blackheads. 
  • If you have acne cysts and blackheads, use my Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cream (start with 2.5% because it works as well as higher strengths and is less likely to irritate skin). Spot treat pimples or apply to acne prone regions of your skin for better control.
  • If you have both clogged pores, blackheads and cysts, use both products. You get both products along with my Acne Treatment Cleanser in my Ultimate Acne Kit. The synergy between these three product is powerful medicine to fight acne. 
  • If you have Pityrosporum folliculitis and seborrhea, apply Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy, which helps fight inflammation and seborrhea. 

At night, consider my Retinol Intensive Night Therapy. As a retinoid, retinol will help fight blackheads and acne. It also is the best ingredient to fight the signs of skin aging so it is a multi-tasking twofer! 

HYDRATE: Because skin dryness will ultimately lead to barrier weakness you want to balance skin hydration. If you have really oily skin, your oil glands may do this for you. Most men need a little help in at least the non-T-zones. Use my Daily Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin where your skin needs a hydration boost. Know that some sunscreens will also hydrate and you may find a multi-tasking product.

PROTECT: During the day you need a good broad spectrum sunscreen to prevent hyperpigmentation of acne lesions, premature skin aging and for skin health – not to mention skin cancer prevention. The number one sunscreen choice of my male patients (and my husband) is Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen. It has a very light feel on the skin and is invisible. Don’t spray it on your face. Spray it into your hands and apply it to facial skin, working it down onto beard or mustache skin. Apply it to your ears, neck and top of your head too if your hair is not super thick up there! Yep, it’s an easy and all over sunscreen for the head and neck. It’s also great for hairy arm protection. This is the ultimate “man pleasing” sunscreen at my house and in my dermatology practice! The other highly popular sunscreen for men is my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible SPF 50+ Sunscreen.

This is a dermatologist’s professional acne treatment - a Complete Skin Care Routine that gets results. It also fights premature skin aging, skin hyperpigmentation and will take good care of your skin now and for years to come.