9 Things to Try When Acne Won’t Clear, According to Dermatologists

Tried just about every acne treatment to get rid of acne but to no avail? Don’t despair. To see clearer skin, you probably just need some changes with consistency.

The following tips from dermatologists can help you get started.


1. Remind me, what causes acne?

At the root of all acne is a clogged pore.

Acne occurs when the pores of your skin become blocked with oil, dead skin, or bacteria - such as:

  • Too much oil is produced by your follicles
  • Dead skin cells accumulate in your pores
  • Bacteria build up in your pores

The good news is over 95% of the people who have acne can treat using non-prescription products without paying big bucks to see a dermatologist or aesthetician.

Here are the best acne treatments for occasional to moderate acne:

  • Retinoids - The primary tools¹ which dermatologists use to treat breakouts.

    A derivative of vitamin A, they are well researched to promote skin renewal, reduce blemishes and boost your skin’s collagen production. Retinol is a gentle variant of retinoids ².
  • AZA - It’s a mystery why some great skincare ingredients fly under the radar.

    A great deal of research has shown that AZA can significantly diminish the appearance of skin blemishes, help fade post-acne marks and other discolorations, refine skin’s surface, and reveal a more even skin tone³.
  • Salicylic acid - This helps clear mild acne, inflammation and unclogs pores⁴. It comes OTC in lower doses, but you can also get it from a doctor.

    Avoid cleansers with this ingredient as they don't stay long enough on the skin.
  • Benzoyl peroxide - This fights P. acnes bacteria that causes pimples⁵.

    But it isn’t without its downsides. The leave-on creams and cleansing treatments can dry out sensitive skin and bleach clothing if you aren’t careful. Best to stick to formulations that have no more than 2% of it.

Consider Clear Out Clarifying Lotion. It uses pharma-grade* retinol and AZA to perpetually flush out clogs from your pores. The AZA is also very effective in flattening existing pimples.

*Pharma-grade ingredients are certified by US Pharmacopeia standards a level of purity and potency which cosmetic grade ingredients do not provide. 

See what others say about Clear Out...

Mim (@acneisntugly), a teacher from Southampton, battled hormonal cystic acne for over 6 years before she tried Clear Out

Individual results may vary

“Out of everything I’ve tried over the 6 years I’ve battle acne on and off it’s by far stood out as being one of the most effective with no side effects (after the initial “purge”). I’ve used nothing but Clearly Basics for 12 months now and it still exceeds my expectations!”


Bea (@beas.bareskin), a student from California, who has tried almost everything from prescription medication, chemical peels to a long list of brands (Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Proactiv, St. Ives, etc.) ...which didn't work, until Clear Out.

Individual results may vary

"My skin looks so good now! I've had a few of my classmates tell me my skin texture looks so nice and even now. 😊
As an acne survivor, I'll never recommend a product if it's not effective. If any of you are wondering what products I use that have been giving me positive results, it's the Clearly Basics' full lineup."


2. Give any product or treatment you are trying at least 8 weeks to work

Using a new acne product every few days may seem useful, but that approach can worsen acne. Clearing clogs needs time to work. Using a different product every few days may irritate your skin, causing new breakouts.

Try 1 or 2 products, and give them time to work. Trying too many products can stress your skin, worsening acne.

If a treatment works for you, you should notice some improvement in 4 to 6 weeks. However, for some people, it can take 2 to 3 months or longer to see clearing.

If you notice improvement, don't stop. Even when you see clearing, you'll want to keep using the product or treatment. This helps to prevent new breakouts.


98% of users saw an improvement after a bottle of Clear Out. It carries a 90-day money back guarantee so if you don’t see a noticeable results after a bottle, you will get a full refund T&Cs apply.

Note: If you have very severe acne, you'll need to visit a dermatologist. Acne products over the counter won't be able to treat very severe acne.

3. Only wash your face twice a day

Acne-prone skin is usually sensitive. Washing more than twice a day can irritate your skin, making acne worse.

For best results, dermatologists recommend washing your face when:

  • You wake up
  • You're ready to go to bed
  • It gets sweaty

Find a simple and gentle cleanser that will wash off the day’s grime, sweat, and pollution. If your skin is “squeaky clean” after washing your face, your cleanser may be too strong. 

If your skin tends to be dry, look for a soap-free, cream-based cleanser. For oily skin, go for a foaming cleanser more effective at reducing the oil.

4. Choose skincare products and cosmetics that don’t cause acne

Yes, you do need to moisturize, even if you have acne. Skipping this critical step may leave you plagued with rough, flaky, and red patches, which only brings more attention to your breakouts.

However, it's crucial to use skincare/cosmetic products that don't cause acne. Here's what you need to look out for.

Read the label carefully. On the package, you may see one of the following:

  • Non-comedogenic (won't clog pores)
  • Non-acnegenic
  • Oil free

If you have oily skin, consider the SH+ Matte Hydrating Serum. It breaks the vicious cycle (clogged pores -> more oil production -> more clogged pores) by properly hydrating your skin.

If you have dry, sensitive or combination skin, consider the Protective Peptide Moisturizer. It helps to repair the skin barrier that's damaged from drying acne products and medications. 

5. Follow instructions/directions

While using any Over The Counter (OTC) acne treatment can seem pretty straightforward, how much you use and how often you use it can make a huge difference.

Be sure to follow the instructions/directions!

6. Stop scrubbing your face!

If your skin feels greasy, dirty, or grimy, you may be tempted to scrub it clean. Don’t!

Scrubbing can irritate acne-prone skin, which worsens acne.

7. Resist touching, picking, and popping your acne

Popping a pimple may seem like the fastest way to clear it, but popping it can actually make things worse. We can't stress this enough.

Every time you touch, pick, or pop, you can worsen acne.

8. Wash your pillowcases, hats, and other things that touch your acne-prone skin

Dead skin cells, bacteria, and dirt will build up on these surfaces, which can clog your pores. Washing what touches your acne-prone skin can prevent this.

Changing your sheets every week and your pillowcase twice a week can make a difference.

9. Enlist a dermatologist's help

If you still have acne after trying these tips — or you have acne cysts or nodules (deep blemishes that leave scars when they clear) — you probably need to visit a dermatologist.

With today's acne treatments and a dermatologist's expertise, virtually every case of acne can be cleared. A dermatologist can tailor a treatment plan to your unique needs.

References:
1. James Leyden et al, 2017 : Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Therapy for Acne
2. Marissa Laliberte : Retinol-vs.-Retinoids
3. Paula Begoun : Everything You Need to Know About AZA for Skin
4. Kristeen Cherney, 2019 : Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl Peroxide: Which Is Better for Acne?
5. Jessica Cruel, 2019 : 12 Acne Treatments That Really Work, According to Dermatologists


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See what others have to say about Clearly Basics.

Based on 24 reviews
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Skin Type: Normal
Comments: Any ideas on how to get rid of brown skin damage
Skin defence

Marks of sun damage are still there they haven't faded much after using twice a day for 60 days. . I will continue until product is finished. I'm a bit disappointed

Skin Type: Combination

I am so happy that I stumbled upon clearly basics on instagram. I was skeptical at first but decided to give it a try and bought clear out clarifying lotion. It's been 2 months and my skin has improved a lot. I can see significant reduction in pores and acne.

Skin Type: Combination
Amazing

After years of medication and products, I decided to try clearly basics. In just 6 weeks my skin has calmed and I am now able to treat scarring.

So glad to have found these products!

Finding products that helped to control my acne without irritating my sensitive skin has always been a huge challenge. The clearly basics products have been my saviour, I can't recommend them enough ☺️

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Excellent and actually works

I am so incredibly impressed with the TLC for pore minimising - it 💯 works and has transformed my skin.

I’m in my 50’s and always had hormonal flare ups with larger pores as I age - this is a game changer and have just reordered my 3rd bottle !

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Skin Type: Sensitive / Dry
The only moisturiser I trust

I am super sensitive and this is the only moisturiser that I trust honestly incredible.

Skin Type: Combination
Amazing!

I use this product and with the clear out and it has really helped my hormonal acne.

Skin Type: Sensitive / Dry
Here one day, gone the next!

After success with Clearly Basics for my acne scars, I stocked up with all of the active acne products to prepare myself for how angry my acne would get when going off hormonal birth control. I have tried and failed twice as my acne comes back so bad that I just start taking it again. This time I have been using clearly basics without fail every day (lighten up and clear out). I have had 3 pimples start to form and I use ‘Stop Spot’ and the next day instead of a much redder, much angrier pimple with a big white head - the pimple is gone! I have been very happy with this product. I’m one month down (typically when acne gets the worst) - let’s do this!

I love that these products are gentle on my daughter skin.

This skin care routine is the o lay one that has helped clear up my daughters skin.

My daughters skin is really starting to look better!

Skin Type: Oily
So far so good

Bought this for my daughter that has struggled with acne for years. She has seen improvement and less frequent breakouts.

Best moisturizer I have found!

V
Lighten Up Redness Rescue Cream
Veronica Ilenya Ranieri
Skin Type: Sensitive / Dry
Perfect

Has changed my skin from acne pro to almost perfect 😍😍

Skin Type: Combination
Obsessed !!

Obsessed with this cleanser!! It left me feeling fresh and prevented break outs. It is incredible . Loved this product so much

My skin feels so soft after using this moisturiser!

My skin feels so soft after using this moisturiser!

Skin Type: Combination
Fresh and clean!

My face is filled with energy and feels so fresh and clean!

Skin Type: Normal
excellent item!

have been using this for years! so good for my skin :)

C
So Fresh pH Balancing Cleanser
Carmelinda Di Manno
Skin Type: Combination
Fresh Feeling

My skin feels so clean and still hydrated when I use this cleanser. It’s balancing and refreshing. My skin has responded really well to it and at times my skin can be sensitive. I highly recommend this product to anyone with relatively oily t-zone area

Skin Type: Combination
Very happy!

Love the texture, the minty scent and the lather.
I wish the bottles were a bit bigger HOWEVER they are just small enough to fly with.

Skin Type: Normal
Comments: The only thing I now need to use to keep my skin clear.
The holy grail for clearing hormonal acne.

This is the only product that I have needed to keep my skin clear since discovering it about 2 years ago, after suddenly developing cystic hormonal acne at the age of 25. I now only need to use it every second night, so it's incredibly affordable. It has also never irritated my sensitive skin and it has faded previous acne marks to truly clear my skin. After years of trying expensive supplements/products/harsh prescription creams, Clear Out was the only thing that gave me long-lasting results.

Skin Type: Oily
Clearly Basics is the only product that has helped my Adult Acne

I have always struggled with dehydrated acne prone skin. Every month like clockwork I would get a new breakout on my chin or cheek area. These included large cystic acne that by the time they came to a head would take me months to clear. With new breakouts each month this created more & more spots before the first could heal leaving more hyper pigmentation spots that never have time to clear. Clearly basics changed all that for me. It gave my skin a chance to heal and reduced the number of breakouts each month. When I do get a new breakout it resolves itself quickly with less scarring and redness. Now that the acne is under control the products are helping to eliminate the remaining hyper pigmentation spots left from years of acne. I have not been using the product for long but I will continuing relying on this product and look forward to the day I can happily look in the mirror at a smooth clear & even complexion some day soon.

Skin Type: Combination
Comments: Product consistency in terms of smoothness/coarseness/stickiness/ is sometimes a miss, don't believe it affects the result provided.
Great Combo

Have seen great improvements by using these 2 items concurrently, hard to fault and wil continue purchasing.

Individual results may vary

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